Interview with Jamie Fletcher, of Industrious Office Portland
Step 1: Wow, working from home! What a luxury, whoo-hoo!
Step 2: Might be nice to see a few people during the workday, to have a network of more than me.
Step 3: Imma type “co-working space Portland” into this search engine.
Which, were you do so right now, might yield Industrious, the new co-working and private office space on Pioneer Square. With over 60 locations nationwide, the new Portland Industrious is one of the newest addition to this nation-wide network of premium workspaces.
Ristretto sat down with Jamie Fletcher, Community Manager of Industrious Portland, to talk about why people choose a co-working space, what such spaces offer, and why they are mushrooming around the city right now.
All right, give us the elevator pitch.
JF: Industrious and other co-working spaces are settling into this niche that helps small businesses prepare for a changing work environment, while also providing all of the amenities and support and community and bright light and plant life and beauty you’re getting everyday at big companies like Amazon and Google.
What makes a co-working environment attractive, to employer and employee? We have a friend who is rocket scientist. He’s been with the world’s largest aerospace company for twenty years, and when he asked to work a day a week out of the office, they were not down with it.
JF: I think everybody’s aware that the workforce is changing and what we want out of the workforce is changing… We had an entire generation that grew up on teamwork, so the office environment, the cubicle-and-desk, made a lot of sense. You needed to be able to key into your teams, you needed to be able to work together and share supplies. That was how they grew up. I’m talking about Baby Boomers.
Then you have the latchkey generation. When they got home their parents were working, and they managed themselves four to five hours a day all through school. That’s how they want to work: leave me alone, let me do it; tell me what you want me to do and I will get that done.
Now the millennial has come into the workforce; we’re in-between the two. We’re, “give me the resources to do a good job. Give me the community I need to feel supported in this job, and let me move through life more fluidly.” Co-working is really the answer for all three.
Is there something, too, to having grown-up on online, which, for its innumerable opportunities for work and connection, can leave a person with a sense of being siloed.
JF: It’s a particular person, a very, very talented person who can sit in the place where they live all day and still be productive and get things done and feel satisfied with their work. That can be very isolating and it can be very distracting. It can also be very freeing and very comfortable. Bringing all of that together in one package is really what Industrious is trying to do.
Who is the Industrious client?
JF: Our average member is generally a little bit older [than other co-working spaces], maybe 38 years old on average. Their business has been around for around five to twelve years. They’re out of that initial start-up phase and are looking for something that’s a little more elevated, a little more sophisticated. We get a lot of people who are client facing; they want to know they’ve got this great, shared workspace, and yet they’re not paying thousands and thousands trying to run their own office.
So, you’ve got a conference room if they need it?
JF: We’ve got nine conference rooms! Not to mention smaller team spaces, focus rooms, beautiful common cafe workspace, private showers, locked bike parking, and even a wellness room for nursing mothers or folks with medical needs throughout the day. The first experience is: you walk in, you step off the elevator, and you'll see your Community Manager and Operations Associate at the front desk. We know all our members’ names, we know their spouses’ names; we know if it’s a good day and we’re celebrating with champagne. When they’re having a bad day, we’re there to support them. When someone steps off the elevator, I’m there saying, ‘Hello, welcome to Industrious, who are you here to see, can I get you a coffee while you wait?’ This is the kind of elevated hospitality that we focus on.
Like an old school Mad Men-office, if maybe without a scotch at ten in the morning.
JF: Maybe not a scotch. But! We provide breakfast every single day; we work with Little T Bakery and Bowery Bagels. And then we do a snack every afternoon—and that’s not a bowl of potato chips, that’s a charcuterie tray from Providore. Twice a week we do a wine and beer service. Once a week we do a happy hour, and twelve times a month we’re doing member enrichment events. These can be lifestyle, personal, professional or social events, so we might have a retirement planner come in, and then we might have someone teach us how to macramé. Our café commons will seat about forty people, and we keep it very open for our members, so unless we are having an event, there’s always a place for you to sit. And we are going to have delicious Ristretto coffee there, 24 hours a day.
How many people can Industrious support?
JF: When we’re full we will have between 250 and 275 individuals in the space. What that’s going to look like for different businesses is hard to say. We have offices that are very large and can accommodate teams of up to ten or twelve. The all-inclusive model includes Wi-Fi, printing, all the food and beverage.
Say I’m a solo entrepreneur. What do I get?
JF: You can get all of the above. We offer eight hot-desk memberships.
JF: That means, okay, I’m a solo entrepreneur, I just need a desk to set up a few days a week. That’s a very small part of what we do, but we do welcome those people into the space as part of the community. We have 88 private offices of varying sizes. Across the country Industrious also does enterprise suites, so we work with companies like Spotify with Pinterest, to set them up when they’re moving into a new city. We’re like, “it’s hard enough to start [in] a new market, let us handle it.” [We offer space] for however many they need, up to one hundred.
Is there anything that will be specific for the Portland market?
JF: We have lots of tech and lots of outdoor companies [in Portland], and a huge creative industry. Those are really the areas where we focus as a city, but we want to build a productive, inter-dependent community across all lines. You want a graphic designer? We want you to have your graphic designer. If you’re looking for a corporate law lawyer, we want you to have a corporate law lawyer. All of these people are mixing together.
Is it arbitrary, like, “maybe I’ll see you by the water cooler,” or is it that someone comes to you and says, “Jamie, and says, I am really looking for X.”
JF: That’s the best part of my job. I get paid to help build people’s passion projects. I’m there leveraging what I know about everyone in the space, hosting these events, making these connections. That’s a big part of my role, building that network and being a resource for people.
Tell us a little about the physical space itself.
JF: It’s on Pioneer Square, on 6th and Yamhill, the Chase Building. We have the top three floors. It’s going to be the best spot in town to watch the Christmas tree lighting. We literally are sky-view of Mt. Tabor and Mt. Hood.
You’re above the competition…
JF: I don’t think we have any competition. If you're looking for a new space to work, we're a great place to check. I'm invested in making sure you find the right fit.
Cool. Anything else you want to tell us?
JF: What I think the important thing to say about Industrious is, we are hospitality first, in everything that we do, and that we really care about relationships and professionalism. We are not blasting neon over the space; the only place you are going to see the word “Industrious” is behind my desk. Other than that, we put logos on the doors; our design is created to help the individual businesses shine. We work really hard to make sure the space is conducive in every single way to building a great day at work; that's the mission. That's why were excited and proud to be here!