The booming co-working industry, launched to accommodate the increasing number of entrepreneurs and corporate employees who work remotely, is now tailoring itself for women by offering workspaces with female-focused networking and career seminars.
Increasingly, these workspaces, as well as those that cater to all working parents, are also offering child care, a service still lacking in many of America’s workplaces.
The trendy, all-female co-working space and social club in Manhattan is expanding in April with a 10,000-square-foot space in Washington, D.C. The company has 2,000 members in two New York City locations and applications from about 13,000 people. Co-founder Audrey Gelman said that about half of the members are freelancers or entrepreneurs; others hold more traditional jobs.
Like most female-oriented co-working spaces, the Wing offers professional help through salary-negotiation training and meetups for women from different industries. It hosts programs on nutrition and wellness, the anxiety of infertility and other “modern struggles that come along with being a woman in 2018,” Gelman said.
Many of the Wing’s members are new mothers, and the business is looking “very closely” at offering child care, said Gelman, whose co-founder, Lauren Kassan, just had a baby. “We are experiencing, for the first time, all the challenges that working moms face,” she said.
It’s a co-working space with child care in Vienna, Va. Workers can lease a private office for a year or rent a conference room by the hour so they can meet with a prospective client somewhere other than Starbucks or a toy-cluttered living room. However, it limits child care to a total of three hours per day. That way, the owners say, they fall under the same regulations as child-care centers at gyms, with fewer standards to meet.
Nonmembers pay a drop-in fee of $26 per 90-minute session, which owner Nicole Dash says is competitive with the cost of hiring a babysitter.
- Rise Collaborative Workspace is for female entrepreneurs in St. Louis.
- At Quilt, members take turns hosting workshops or co-working sessions in their homes in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City.
- Hera Hub advertises a “professional, productive, spalike environment” for women in Washington, D.C.
- Hatch is a new co-working space, which is likely to open in Washington, D.C. in the fall. It will have full-day, licensed child care. Co-founders Kelsey Lents and JP Coakley are charging $2,100 a month for full-time child care, about $250 more than the average cost for infant care at a child-care center in the District. Half-time child care will cost $1,200 a month. For parents, monthly costs start at $300 a month for a shared desk.
Just 7 percent of traditional employers provide child care at or near the workplace, and 5 percent offer backup care when their employees’ child-care arrangements fall through, according to a 2016 national study of employers released by the Society for Human Resource Management.
Co-working spaces can provide some promising solutions, experts say, but their impact is likely to be limited to those in professional jobs.
“By leaving this problem to the market, the market is rewarding those at the top, and not paying enough attention to millions of other workers who need this,” said Heather Boushey, director and chief economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.
Still, Steve King, a partner at Emergent Research, which tracks the co-working industry, says that the model has started to take off in the past year.