The Network Hub, the Vancouver co-working company that provides casual workspace, virtual offices and services for workers and entrepreneurs needing short-term facilities, is setting up shop in Whistler.
The company, which offers two floors of workspace to 300 clients at its downtown Vancouver location and has another office in New Westminster set up with the local municipality, will be established at the resort in the next few weeks.
People will soon be able to book work time at its Creekside location through The Network Hub website, said company co-founder Jay Catalan.
He said they were contacted by Dan Harmon of Creekside-based Select Contracts earlier this year to see if they could work together. Harmon's company had already been informally sharing excess space in their offices with Whistler freelancers and they saw a business opportunity.
"They approached us a few months back and said that we could refer their space if we had any members who might be travelling to Whistler," said Catalan.
"We took a look at what was going on with Whistler and coincidentally within a week or two of the call somebody formed a coworking meet-up group in Whistler and we were, like, 'Hmm! That's interesting!' and we took more of a look."
Catalan said interest was expressed from Facebook groups and individuals, including their current members, "talking about how nice it would be to have Whistler co-working space, either in Whistler or Squamish. So we took a look at what the space would be like and we talked to other people in Select Contracts and could really see the potential in it. We visited and thought it looked very promising."
Now it is just a matter of getting the Whistler location integrated into the website, though people can already book a desk, meeting room, purchase passes that can be used at the three locations or set up a virtual service online.
"At the moment, everything is a bit more manual but once we have everything set up anyone can go to the website and sign up for Whistler and Whistler passes," Catalan said. "We also have a multi-location pass, and this allows someone to access the facilities to downtown Vancouver, to New West and to Whistler."
One of Network Hub's regular clients, videographer David Vandas, lives in New Westminster, has meetings in Vancouver and often films in Whistler.
"He said it's perfect," Catalan said.
There can be potential international users, too.
"What makes Whistler a little more unique for us than our other spaces is that a lot of people do travel to Whistler and an advantage of being a member of the Network Hub is that we are part of the Coworking Visa — which allows you to travel and gain access to other co-working spaces around the world," Catalan said.
"It basically lets you stay from one to three days in other coworking spaces that are part of the program. We actually have a member that left for Amsterdam last week and he has a few spaces there that he can work at while travelling, we already connected him," Catalan said.
He could see the attraction for travellers wanting to co-work in Vancouver and Whistler from Europe or Asia and the reverse, too. It doesn't hurt that the Whistler office is 150 metres from the Creekside chairlift.
Initially, there will be 10 to 15 work spaces, with the location growing "organically."
"I believe a lot of people working in Whistler travel quite frequently, so this would be good for them as well," Catalan said.
Harmon said there is already one client working from the Select Contracts office. The Whistler- and Dubai-based company provides consultancy and management service to the leisure and entertainment industry and has room to take in other workers, he explained.
"We've had four or five people in contact in the last week, people who have worked here for the last few years in the service industry and have come up with a business idea themselves," Harmon said. "They want to work with someone else, they want to use the education they got in the past and they found themselves a niche and they need that kind of flexibility that we can offer. Others just want an address or just a couple of days a month."
There's very little point for someone to be paying for their office space if they are going to be spending 15 or 20 days a month working out in the mountains or onsite at an events space, he said.
Georgia Hybner works for Dell as a remote program manager supporting projects in Asia, which means her work hours coincide with the time zones in that part of the world. She joined the new workspace at the beginning of October.
"I was working from home for 16 months, but I have a small place. When I heard about the office space I went down to check it out. It's such a nice environment, there's lots of space, it's really bright and it's close to the gondola. For me, it's a no brainer to work from there," she said.