The new Haddon Avenue coworking space positions itself as a flexible office environment that’s as walkable as any storefront in downtown Collingswood.
By Matt Skoufalos | February 16, 2022
As much as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic opened the eyes of traditional businesses to the value and opportunities presented by working from home, after two years of cloistered operations, people may be looking for a shift.
“I had someone the other day who said they need to get out of their ‘cloffice,'” that is, a “closet office,” said Maudi Silver-Mallemat, owner of the Hub:868 coworking space in Collingswood.
“We’ve made it work for two years, but we want to get out of it,” Silver-Mallemat said.
“The way we were working before wasn’t healthy for everybody, but the way of working from home wasn’t ideal either.”
After nearly two years of work, from concept to execution, Hub:868 opened its doors for the first time this week.
Its name, which doubles as its Haddon Avenue address, reflects Silver-Mallemat’s intentions to create a gathering place for professionals of all stripes who aren’t interested in going back to the traditional office environment, nor in working from home until retirement.
She believes a local coworking space can offer a best-of-both-worlds experience: a distraction-free environment that’s close enough to home to conveniently handle family business, but purpose-built for getting things done.
“You don’t have to battle your spouse for conference-call time, or sit next to your pile of laundry all day while your dog looks at you, asking for a walk,” she said.
In seeking to deliver flexible office space with a purpose-built environment for productivity, Hub:868 offers the best aspects of the workplace without the hierarchical management structure, gray cubicle dividers, or buzzing fluorescent lights of a corporate workplace.
Members can access individual desks, collaborative conference tables, and private offices along with amenities like a comfortable lounge, private phone booth for priority calls, and soundproof conference room for teleconferencing, podcasting, and sensitive meetings.
With an abundance of electrical outlets, USB hubs, and monitor mounts, members can work anywhere in the building that they like. High-speed Wi-Fi service is available throughout, as are secure, hardwired connections via multiple data ports in every room.
Early adopters have ranged in specialty from insurance brokers, to graphic designers, to media and marketing professionals; Silver-Mallemat said she’s fielded the most interest from people whose work has migrated from in-person to remote assignments, or from a company headquarters to a home office.
“Most of the people who’ve come by have been really local people, and they’re really excited about the potential to walk [to work],” she said.
“We want to serve everybody. Anybody whose job is transportable, we want to provide a space for them to get out of their house.
“Working from home is great, but it’s not always the most productive or efficient space,” Silver-Mallemat said, “and we need to be able to leave work and be present for home.
“I think coworking provides a really nice medium,” she said.
“You don’t have that commute, but you still have enough opportunity to shift your mindset.”
Full-time memberships offer unlimited access to the workspace during weekday hours, plus four complimentary hours of small conference room access at $220 per month.
Part-time memberships allow members 12 days per month, plus discounted access to onsite meeting rooms for $185 per month.
For those who need less consistent access, a day pass is $29.
Anyone joining as a full- or part-time member through February 2022 will get a $20 per month discount off those rates for the lifetime of that membership.
Hub:868 also has one dedicated, three-person suite with bathroom and private entrance available for rent at $950 per month, including Wi-Fi and all utilities.
All Hub:868 members also have access to an internal member network that allows colleagues with incompatible work schedules to connect within the context of the coworking environment.
“If we have a graphic designer who’s always working in the morning, and someone else working at night, their paths may never cross in the building,” Silver-Mallemat said. “But they can start networking within the app even if they never see each other in the space.”
One of its biggest planned innovations—an entire storefront dedicated to childcare services for its members—will be slower in rolling out, however. Silver-Mallemat said she’s taking a wait-and-see approach to the pandemic, and will revisit her initial plans after the summer.
“We’re going to see the young ones who don’t have a vaccine yet, and I don’t want to take any risks with anybody’s kids,” she said.
“This is a place where people want to come to get work done so their kids can have fun with engaging teachers.”
In the meantime, the storefront could be used as overflow for a larger team of five to 10 people, or dedicated space for coworkers who want after-hours access.
Similarly, the kitchen commissary in the rear of the building will be delayed by about half a year as the space is outfitted and equipped. With separate bathroom, entrances, and exits, Silver-Mallemat wants its members to feel as much a part of the shared workspace as the other coworkers, and to benefit from its social connections to help build their business.
“We’re really focused on building a community,” she said. “We do not want this to be a sterile work environment.
“We want this to be a place where people want to come and be able to get out of their house to do some work,” Silver-Mallemat said; “a space where it’s engaging, it’s fun, it’s different every day, and people are happy being here.”
Hub:868 is located at 868 Haddon Avenue in Collingswood. For more information, call 856-595-9166 or visit hub868.com.
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