TRAVERSE CITY — It was the “creative space” that drew Brad and Kirsten Matson together at the 2009 Traverse City Film Festival.
These days, creating space for “creatives” is what the couple brings to the northern Michigan business community.
The Matsons are co-founders of CoWharf, which rents temporary office space at 140 E. Front St. The establishment is part of a trend of northern Michigan businesses renting out office and desk slots, often by the day, for independent, knowledge-based workers who want high-tech environments but who don't want to commit to long-term commercial leases.
“The future of work has changed," said Brad Matson. "You can work from anywhere."
Space is another business that offers office space by the day, week or month. Owner Nate Elkins said the business at 120 E. Front St. attracts locals and out-of-towners who want to "stay connected."
"Co-working offices were popping up everywhere, and not just in big cities like San Francisco or Chicago or New York," Elkins said. "They were starting to sprawl up in smaller communities too, because there are so many independent workers now. They are working out of coffee houses or working from home, but they want to be around other people. We are social animals."
The Hub at Building 50 of the Village at Grand Traverse Commons was an early leader in the field. Co-owner Cathy Nelson said the business prides itself in offering upscale office space that provide businesses immediate credibility without the burden of a long-term lease.
"There are a lot of people who could very easily work at home," Nelson said. "A lot of people try it, but some find they don’t like it. It can be difficult because of isolation, and it can be hard to keep the discipline.
"This helps distinguish your work day ... and keep your home life secure," she said.