Some large employers are asking remote-working employees to come back to the office. But the growth of coworking during, and since, the Covid-19 pandemic has been well-documented.
In Chatham County, 79°West — located at Mosaic in Chatham Park — is a coworking community and meeting space. On Tuesday, May 9, it’ll host a grand opening and happy hour for those interested in exploring coworking spaces, and for entrepreneurs and employers. Free coworking spaces will be offered from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., followed by a happy hour until 7 p.m.
This week, we speak with Bobby Duke, 79°West’s community manager, about what the business offers and about the grand opening. Duke has a background in science education and education tech consulting, and has taught and designed several college-level science courses while earning his Master of Science in Marine Biology, along with developing curriculum for various organizations and working in K-12 educational settings. He also does online instruction on a variety of topics — including fantasy football, a subject on which he’s even written a book.
“Chatham County is an exceptional area that prides itself on community and providing an expansive network to its residents,” he says. “Our goal is to help create an environment — right here at 79°West — that can be just that for Chatham residents.”
Duke, his wife and their two children live in Durham.
What — and who — is 79°West?
79°West is an almost 30,000 square foot flexible workspace designed for people in all fields and in all phases of their career journey. The goal of our space is to converge mentorship and community collaboration as well as to blend work with play. While there are an abundance of different workspace options to choose from here, 79°West is more than just a physical space to work.
With an array of collaborative programming and enjoyable networking opportunities, the innovation hub can help entrepreneurs connect with new clients and help people of any profession create new paths both personally and professionally. 79°West is a community over all else. We know there are many places you can choose to work; our goal here is to not only provide you with a comfortable and inviting place to do so, but to also help you build connections for your entrepreneurial endeavors with a focus on the local Chatham community above all else.
Who is your general audience?
In short, anyone and everyone. 79°West’s main focus is building an inclusive community that focuses on helping the businesses right here in Chatham County succeed. Whether you’re an entrepreneur wanting to increase your client base, a remote worker craving community, an exciting new startup ready to jump in, or a growing nonprofit looking for more space, 79°West is the place for you.
What’s offered there, and is it only by membership? How does pricing work?
On our first floor, we offer a variety of different coworking memberships that are flexible with your work needs. Coworking memberships are tiered based on the usage of the space. These are generally month-to-month memberships, but we also offer day passes and even week passes for people wanting to “test it out” or if they are just visiting the area.
On our second floor, we have 45+ private office suites — furnished with standing desks and chairs — that span from two to 10 people in each. Private offices are individually priced depending on the size/capacity of each.
All members of 79°West, whether they are in the coworking area or a private office, have access to all of our amenities as well. Some of these include free high-speed WiFi, on-site showers/lockers, unlimited black and white printing, and locally roasted coffee and other beverages.
We also have six spacious conference rooms that are rentable for anyone as well. For non-members, the conference rooms are bookable for $50 an hour. For members, depending on your membership level, you are given a certain allotment of free hours per month to book these rooms. After that allotment is met, members receive a discounted rate of $25 an hour.
We also have an incredible list of programming and networking opportunities that are open to the public. There are also a variety of exclusive, member-only events that focus on personal and professional growth in connection with our growing community.
Along with the events we host in our event space, the 1,800 square foot event room is bookable for the public as well. Any private or public events that you need a space for — this is a perfect spot!
Last but definitely not least, we have an amazing warehouse area with monthly memberships for any kitting/receiving/storage needs for growing businesses with physical product needs as well.
What’s the status of coworking these days, and how has it changed — and how might it continue to evolve — since pre- and post-Covid?
The pandemic has completely changed the coworking model across the United States. With so many people having the option/preferring to work remotely or in a hybrid setting, personal connection has become an even more essential part of navigating our world post-pandemic. The coworking industry continues to explode as it helps strike the perfect balance of flexibility for individual and group work needs. A fresh and inviting physical environment that inspires people to leave the home office with enjoyable amenities that also helps increase productivity and foster community and collaboration are huge drivers in the evolving flexible workspace industry. The expectation is to see massive growth — up to five times as many coworking spaces nationwide — in the next 15-20 years.
What’s Innovate Carolina’s role in all this?
Innovate Carolina is one of our proud programming partners at 79°West. They offer multiple collaborative programming events each month at our space with their main focus being to help small businesses and entrepreneurs improve their success. These events are currently open to the public and free of charge. Check out their upcoming events, along with a variety of others that will be held at our space, at https://79westhub.com/events/.
Share with us about the hub grand opening coming up on May 9 — what’s the goal, and why should people attend?
We are so excited to finally open our doors to our permanent location and will be celebrating with the community on Tuesday, May 9. Anyone is welcome to stop by anytime between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for free coworking and stick around for drinks, snacks, and tours of the new space from 4 to 7 p.m. See more details and RSVP at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScCCUWrqIggixe91XvnjygEE0c_G3dD8Yq_O4AdDXDxSUb1qQ/viewform.
The goal of the grand opening celebration is to have people get a taste of what it will be like to be a part of a community that we’re building right here in Chatham that can help serve their personal and professional needs. People should attend to check out the space and enjoy some fun with others in the community!