Co-working space in East Grand Rapids has cottage atmosphere, no long-term contracts

They call it a "work cottage" even though it's in an urban environment close to restaurants, coffee shops and right next door to Jersey Junction, a premier ice cream establishment. The warm, friendly environment of East Grand Rapids' 654 Croswell attracts business folk of all kinds who are looking for a place to get serious work done outside the office.

The 1,800-square-foot space operated and outfitted by Steelcase provides a large common work area with café-style seating in the middle of the house, three meeting rooms, plus smaller areas called the den, the study and the porch.

Amenities include a kitchen with coffee, tea and soft drinks, video conference capabilities with Skype and other technologies, lockers, comfy couches and a fireplace, and a room set aside for a phone call area so as not to disturb others.

For $100 a month on a month-by-month basis, or $10 a half-day and $20 a full day, users can drop in and don't need to sign a long-term contract. The cottage is open 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, with fingerprint access available for those who need 24/7 access.

"We are not designed from a work perspective where it would be a permanent office space with your own desk," says John Malnor, VP of Steelcase's growth initiatives. "That's partly because we totally reconfigure the public space for events."

Those events might be conferences, but might just as easily be art events because the space is also an art gallery.

"We saw this trend of co-working and it's kind of a natural fit for Steelcase to learn how work is changing," Malnor says.

"Historically, it's only recently that we separated work from life," says Laate Olukotun, experience designer with Steelcase. "That was during the industrial revolution. Co-working and telecommuting lets us return to something that's closing that work-life gap."

Source: John Malnor and Laate Olukotun, Steelcase and 654 Croswell

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at [email protected].