Work, create in new communal business space
By Karen Iwamoto
In three years, 40 percent of the workforce will be made up of freelancers, temps (temporary workers), independent contractors and “solopreneurs,” according to Officevibe, a tech company that creates software to help measure employee satisfaction.
Those nontraditional workers will likely be putting in nontraditional hours in nontraditional office settings. Cue the rise of the “co-working” concept, also known as collaborative working environments, or shared office spaces, which serve as hubs for the self-employed.
Honolulu is home to several co-working companies, but Kou-Work, which opened in August, hopes to carve out its own unique niche in the market.
The city’s latest co-working space is a collaboration between the respective owners of The Wedding Cafe, HONBLUE and the Red-mont Real Estate Group.
“We believe this is the wave of the future,” said Lauren Williams, co-founder of The Wedding Cafe and one of the partners of Kou-Work. “There are other co-work spaces on the island — we’ve met with many of the people who run them, and we’ve learned from them. I think by nature, co-working is very community-oriented, even between the various co-working companies, and everyone has a niche. There is a place for each company to find a market and support each other.”
She added, “We’re really trying to fill a need for freelancers, entrepreneurs, startups and graphic designers. It’s really an extension of what my husband Luke and I were doing at The Wedding Cafe. For The Wedding Cafe, wedding professionals paid a membership fee and used the space to meet with clients and showcase their work.
“Over time, we found that the space we had created for couples had drawn regular people who just wanted to sit and have coffee and use the space,” Williams said.
However, it wasn’t until the Williams connected with Matt Heim of HONBLUE and Phillip Hasha of Redmont Real Estate Group that things started to come together.
“I think we all came upon the (co-working) idea independently, but it wasn’t until we found each other that things started to get moving,” Williams said. “We all bring something different to the table.”
She and her husband manage day-to-day operations, while Heim will provide printing and design services through HONBLUE. Heim also oversees the Brue Bar chain of coffeehouses, which eventually will have a location within Kou-Work, while Hasha provides the physical space for KouWork.
KouWork features 3,000 square feet of office space, or enough for roughly 150 workers. Most of it is an open format, but some of that space is set aside for cubicles, enclosed offices, a conference room and, eventually, a video/photo editing room. Space can be rented on a daily or monthly basis.
In addition to office space, Williams said she and her partners hope to foster a collaborative environment by eventually offering seminars and workshops on topics such as taxes, profit and loss statements, and expanding and hiring. She added that KouWork also plans to eventually work as a go-between, connecting various “KouWork-ers” to encourage them to team up on projects.
The daily drop-in rate at KouWork is $27 and includes Wi-Fi and access to communal office spaces between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday-Saturday. There also are all-access and resident membership options available to fit a wide range of professional needs. Amenities vary depending on which membership one chooses, but can range from coded access to black-and-white printing and a reservable meeting room to private office space and more.
All KouWork users will receive a discount on Brue Bar food and beverages purchased at the Kakaako location. The Brue Bar at KouWork is tentatively scheduled to open at the end of September.
“We know people get work done in different ways,” Williams said. “If you want to sit in the same place every day for eight hours, you could just stay in an office. But some people like to move around, have a cup of coffee, do their work on a couch, take multiple breaks. We’ve tried to create a space that accommodates all of this.”
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LOCATION: 814 Ilaniwai St., Honolulu
PARTNERS: Luke and Lauren Williams of The Wedding Cafe; Matt Heim of HONBLUE; and Phillip Hasha of Red-mont Real Estate Group
NOTEWORTHY: While the name KouWork is a play on the term “cowork,” kou also is an old Hawaiian word for Honolulu, as a gathering spot. Kou also is the name of a shady tree whose bark was favored by woodworkers. And finally, kou can mean “your,” so Kou-Work can be translated to simply mean “your work.”