Shared office concept opens in West Steamboat Springs | SteamboatToday.com

Shared office concept opens in West Steamboat Springs

Michael Schrantz

Julie Niemi stands inside the shared office space business, Drop-In Desk, that she recently opened in West Steamboat Springs.

— The idea of open, shared office space has proved popular in many parts of the country and has been proposed in different forms in Steamboat Springs before.

Now, Julie Niemi has taken the leap and opened co-working space Drop-In Desk in Curve Plaza in West Steamboat.

Co-working spaces are environments shared between multiple unrelated companies, employees or individuals each engaged in their own activities. In this case, Drop-In Desk is looking to provide Steamboat residents and visitors with a space that functions as an office for those who either don't need or can't afford their own private space, need a place to work outside of the home or need the benefits of an office while traveling.

Niemi said she's been opening slowly, starting informally in June and slowly building up and installing more equipment and office furnishings. Drop-In Desk works on a membership system with an all-access pass priced at $250 per month, stepping down to 10-day and five-day passes or smaller increments for the use of the conference room.

Niemi said she's installing a smart TV capable of video conference in the conference room as well as covering the walls with whiteboard paint. The rest of the space is filled with the trappings of typical offices: desks (some of which can be pushed together to form larger spaces), a copy machine, a small kitchen space and, of course, a business-class Internet connection and plenty of outlets.

All-access members have 24-hour access to the space and their own lockers in the back.

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"As I find out what the needs are in here, we'll add more specific equipment," she said.

She also is offering an errand service as part of memberships. Each membership level comes with a set number of tokens that can be exchanged for running tasks such as picking up dry cleaning, dropping off a package, etc. Additional tokens can be purchased.

Drop-In Desk also can be a good place to meet clients, she said, and she has appointment cards members can give out with a map of the location on the back.

Niemi said she had seen a need for shared working space in Steamboat but didn't know what to call it before she was introduced to the idea of co-working spaces while in Seattle.

She said she has had a couple people sign up as full members already and people have started to stop in for small tasks such as making copies.

Whether the people who stop in are familiar with co-working or not, Niemi said, the response has been positive.

While copies and video conferencing are nice, Niemi stressed that the real benefit of co-working is providing a community for workers who might otherwise be isolated in home offices or other arrangements.

People miss the social aspect of offices, she said, except at Drop-In Desk people want to be there rather than have to be there.

Niemi said she's hoping for a good mix of members from different fields, such as technology, marketing, consulting and other small-businesses. Members also might find synergies with one another through fortunate connections that might not otherwise have been made.

For people who have a business they're trying to grow, she said, it's a nice way to get some support.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz