For several years I have been advocating for coworking spaces to incorporate child care. It’s the mountain we have to climb, I have said. This is a difficult thing because you have to be good at two businesses, which generally means finding the right partners. And both businesses are pretty low profit, so you aren’t likely to get rich.
This month the Global Coworking Unconference Conferences (GCUC) blog reports on some of the Coworking Spaces that are offering child care.
“In every facebook group, forum, contact form and unconference- Coworking and childcare comes up. While most of us agree that it is needed and the next step in the “co” niche movement- there is a real lack of information around it.” (From )
In three installments (so far), they talk with the operators of five coworking spaces about what they do and the challenges they face [1,2,3]. It’s a small sample, but there is interesting information. These spaces are rare, and in many cases are pioneering this challenging service.
All of the responses indicate that they are responding to their own experiences as working parents (mostly moms). Coworking is largely worker driven, and is simple and cheap enough that it is possible to experiment. So, working moms are able to try out solutions to their own challenges.
Reflecting this spirit of experimentation, it is very striking that there doesn’t seem to be “one right way” to set things up. In this limited sample, we see the kids’ space:
- In a corner room of the main floor
- In a separate building (a church)
- On the ground floor of the house, workers on second floor
- In another part of the community center
- In the garage next to the house
Some of the spaces want to staff the child care cooperatively, i.e., by the workers. But most hire professional caregivers, or contract with a professional child care operation. This is expensive, especially compared to the relatively low staff costs for a coworking space, and that is a challenge for all of them.
I’ll note that one operation is located in a community center, which has child care. And another is located in a church, and does child care at a second church. I think these are very natural alliances, even without the child care.
Actually, I’ve been rather surprised at how few church-based coworking spaces seem to exist. That seems like a really natural win-win: there is a ready made community, the church has facilities (including child care), and probably has space available on workdays (and would welcome the income). Of course, there probably shouldn’t be wild, all night keggers in the church basement, so I guess that might be a minus for some workers.
Finally, I’ll point to one interesting coworking operation that was not interviewed for the GCUC series (at least not yet). Our local town has the Lodgic Everyday Community, with “offices, coworking space, drop-in childcare, and all-day dining options”.
This operation was built from the beginning as multiple businesses, including child care from the get go. In other words, none of the components is a slapped on after thought.
The most interesting thing about this space is that this is not the product of entrepreneurial moms, seeing a need. It is, in fact, an initiative of the non-profit Moose Lodges, who aim to serve working families and earn income to support their children’s charity activities. So this is yet another variation on the theme: a twenty first century service organization.
It will be interesting to see how their efforts play out, and if they replicated the operation in other places.
- Global Coworking Unconference Conferences, Child Care & Coworking part 1, in GCUC Blog. 2019. https://gcuc.co/child-care-coworking-part-1/
- Global Coworking Unconference Conferences, Child Care & Coworking part 2, in GCUC Blog. 2019. https://gcuc.co/child-care-coworking-part-2/
- Global Coworking Unconference Conferences, Child Care & Coworking part 3, in GCUC Blog. 2019. https://gcuc.co/child-care-coworking-part-3/