Santa Clarita has a new coworking space, Steamwork Center, on Constellation Drive.
After looking at spaces all over the Santa Clarita Valley, founder Tania Mulry signed a three-year lease in July and opened the 4,000-square-foot space.
That includes a 1,800-square-foot double height space that will be converted to two floors of additional offices by next spring.
“Technology has made working remotely easy, but remote working brings with it isolation,” Mulry said. “There can come a sense of complacency when you’re not meeting people and you have an over-reliance on technology to connect with other people. It’s not good for the soul or the heart, and people can become depressed.”
Coworking spaces tend to attract work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, and people who travel frequently who end up working in relative isolation. The term was coined by computer scientist Brad Neuberg, who is credited with starting the coworking movement in San Francisco in 2005 with the idea to combine the independence of freelancing with the structure and community of an office space.
Mulry, who also owns Digital Detox, a marketing firm, and teaches at USC, contrasted the isolation many independent workers feel with the experience most people have going through high school and college. “You’re with other people, sharing ideas, working in teams. So it’s natural to want to continue that sense of human connection.”
Instead, after leaving school, many graduates find themselves living the life of a digital nomad, she said “In Santa Clarita, the places to open up your laptop if you’re a digital nomad are Starbucks, Panera, and the Corner Bakery,” Mulry said. “That’s the trifecta.”
According to research in the Harvard Business Review, workers in coworking settings reported levels of thriving that approach an average of 6 on a 7-point scale, a point higher than workers in traditional corporate settings. The research found that people who use coworking spaces see their work as meaningful, feel they have more job control, and consider themselves to be part of a community.
Today there are more than 10,000 coworking spaces around the world, generating more than $1 billion in revenue, according to the Global Coworking Unconference Conference, the largest conference series on the topic.
Mulry sees plenty of opportunity for growth in coworking. “One in three American workers work for an employer that has five or fewer employees,” she noted, “and those companies represent two-thirds of net new job creation.”
April Enriquez, owner of WordPop Public Relations, is a Steamwork member.
“My family moved from San Diego to Santa Clarita for my husband’s job,” she said. “I worked in a coworking office in San Diego for the last five years, and I’m still splitting my time between the two. By working out of Steamwork, I don’t have to commit a ton of money. And I suddenly know ten people who are on the same entrepreneurial journey that I’m on.”
Steamwork Center features training, events, and professional services, along with a conference room and office space.
Members include GameGen, Glowhouse Gaming, Optimus Computing, LMS Remote Office Services (a virtual administrative assistant), Goosehead Insurance, and Deo Valente Construction.
Jennifer Bussio, owner of Deo Valente, lives in Acton, and found that she needed office space in Santa Clarita. She holds Friday staff meetings in the space’s conference room, and has already found bookkeeping help from another coworker.
Steamwork is not the first attempt at creating a coworking space in Santa Clarita. Mulry was a member of Kreativ Cooperative Workspace on Smythe Dr. in 2011. “I was the last tenant. One Friday afternoon I got a call telling me they were closing and I had to have all my stuff out by five.”
Mulry would like to expand Steamwork’s training programming, and she’s found a model in Orangetheory Fitness, the fastest growing woman-owned business in the United States.
Founded in 2009 in Fort Lauderdale as a single club owned by Ellen Latham, Orangetheory Fitness and its heart-rate based workout grew after Latham brought Ultimate Fitness Group LLC founders Long and Jerome Kern on board. Orangetheory Fitness, which started franchising in 2010, had 26 clubs in 2012, 61 clubs in 2013, 157 clubs in 2014 and 338 clubs in 2015. Today, it has more than 800 locations.
By wearing a heart rate monitor while exercising, Orangetheory members get feedback that shows they can handle the exertion of exercise. Mulry sees value in offering an analogous service to business owners.
“It would be like a gym membership for business owners who want to work on their business, not their body,” she said. “By carefully measuring metrics, we could help businesses know how much growth they could handle. Knowing your numbers and what they mean is so important. So many small companies are one rent check away from disaster.”
Steamwork is already paying for itself, Mulry said. “I consider myself lucky to be able to live and work in the Santa Clarita Valley,” she said. “It’s an amazing place. We want to make the work part easier.”