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We’ve gone full tilt on co-op exploration!

Exploring Cooperative Ownership

Can a coworking space be owned – and operated – by the members who use it?

Works Progress is exploring the feasibility – and desirability – of transitioning from a traditional one-owner business to a member-owned cooperative.

Marnee Chua, Co-Founder

Why are we doing this? What does it mean? Will it cost more money?

While we don’t know the answer yet to all of your questions, we have created this fact sheet as a step toward helping our members, possible future members, and our neighborhood community explore the concept.

If you read through this and have immediate ideas, concerns or questions, please email me at marnee@worksprogressseattle.com.

In addition to the FAQ below, we will try to send updates every month as the process moves through the feasibility study.

Works Progress Coworking Feasibility FAQ:

Why are you doing this?

You may be wondering why I am encouraging the idea of transitioning from owning my own business to creating a member-owned business. The truth is that I’ve always been a little bit in love with the cooperative business model. And, after six years of running Works Progress, I have begun to think more about the long-term lifespan of our community. If I don’t run it forever, who would be the next best owner?

I firmly believe that the transition to a member-owned cooperative would solve the question of long-term sustainability of our coworking community. I also think that members who also owned the space would love it even more.

Is this a done deal?

No. We have enough interested members right now to run a feasibility study and learn more about what this particular business model would look like as a co-op.

The only thing moving forward at this time is a feasibility study to learn if it’s worth doing.

Now is a great time to submit your ideas and concerns to either myself (marnee@worksprogressseattle.com) or Mary (mary@worksprogressseattle.com), who is the chair of our exploration committee.

What cooperative model(s) are you exploring?

Have you been to PCC Market or REI? We are looking into this form of consumer or member-owned cooperative (where consumers have a choice to buy into membership – or not).

This model provides the opportunity for an independent, democratic, and community-owned coworking community that anyone can join.

Member shares of the co-op would be an equity investment in Works Progress, and these would help to purchase supplies and equipment (like better chairs!), finance operations, and minimize outside debt. Owners would also support the co-op through patronage of the workspace and event space, and by participating in the co-op’s democratic processes, like voting in elections or serving on a board of directors.

Would I have to be a member-owner to use the space?

Probably not. Unless solid financial reasons change our minds, we are thinking that anyone will be able to use the space as a regular coworking member, regardless of whether or not they purchase cooperative equity ownership in the business.

Will my rates go up?

The Works Progress rates are increasing in 2019 independent of whether or not we form a cooperative, if you haven’t checked out the new pricing plan, you can find it here. If a transition to a member-owned cooperative becomes a reality, the expenses and costs of running the coworking business will be managed by a core group of member-owners, primarily the board of directors – to be elected by the community.

One of the benefits of moving to a cooperative model is usually financial, in fact, we hope that the overall result is that your prices will go down as a member-owner! That’s because owners may be eligible for a dividend at the end of the year based on their patronage of the space and the profit margin of the business that year.

How much will membership cost?

This hasn’t been decided yet and will significantly depend on the feasibility study. There are lots of models to draw on for this and the exploration committee will be researching these, as well as reviewing the business financials.

What is the expected time commitment to members?

The cooperative model does not mean that you have to become a volunteer. If you are a regular member-owner, with no volunteer commitments, we don’t anticipate that you will need to spend more time on the governance of the coworking space, other than voting in elections. Of course, we still love you more when you make coffee and take out the garbage.

In fact, your friendly Community Cultivator may be here more often, not less. Further, as the cooperative develops over time, staff positions may receive better benefits than they do currently. This will be a positive benefit for retention of our awesome staff.

If you have been voted on to the board of directors, you may expect to spend between 5-20 hours per month assisting with space governance, planning, and business management. A healthy board will be between 5-7 people. Depending on finances, board members may also be compensated an honorarium for their time spent assisting the community and will likely hold up to two-year commitments.

There will still be volunteer opportunities: Works Progress has always had at least 2 volunteer positions for members who want to help out with tours, events, advertising, and managing reception. Members who apply for these positions take on a minimum six-month commitment to working 10 hours per week in exchange for a dedicated desk. We fully anticipate that these positions, and possibly others, will continue to be part of our business model.

What are the benefits for our community and me, specifically, to become a member-owner?

Cooperatives often have benefits in addition to community, ownership, shared values, and democratic participation. As an owner, you will be supporting a successful independent business that’s rooted in your community.

What additional benefits are developed will be guided by our members – the people we serve – and the ever-changing needs of todays’ working professional.

Some examples of benefits that a cooperative could provide include:

  • Increased business assistance for members, including accounting, scheduling, and marketing;
  • Travel protection plans and special pricing on trips;
  • Annual dividend based on your patronage;
  • Member-only special offers;
  • Discounts on classes and events;
  • Increased opportunities to give back to the local community;
  • Maybe: Collective health insurance and retirement savings options.

Does Works Progress have outside debt that co-op members would be paying off?

No. Works Progress is, at this point, 100% owner invested with owner capitol provided by both original owners. 

What happens if we don’t transition to a co-op?

Nothing much will change, you will be forced to continue to endure my constant desire to move the furniture and torture you on holidays. I am committed to the long-term success of Works Progress – I hope you will be too!

I don’t need to use the coworking space, but I’m interested in supporting Works Progress as a place for small businesses to thrive and for event hosting in our neighborhood, could I purchase a membership?

At this time, we anticipate membership to be open for anyone and we hope you’ll consider joining! If you are interested in learning more and ongoing updates, please let us know at info@worksprogressseattle.com.

What is a co-op anyway?

A co-op is a business owned and operated by and for its members. Co-ops aren’t owned by a single individual or speculative investors. They are based on shared ownership by people who have a personal stake in the business and its profits. Co-ops are a powerful economic alternative, one that acknowledges our interconnectedness and leverages our shared resources. If we move forward, Works Progress may become the first legally structured cooperative coworking space in the United States!

Co-ops act to fulfill their members’ needs and put their values into action. While co-ops are for-profit, they operate to serve their members, and follow cooperative values and principles. As envisioned by the Rochdale Pioneers, who spearheaded the modern cooperative movement, co-ops should embody the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity.

As far as we know, Works Progress would become the first coworking cooperative in the United States, and part of a global movement of cooperatives. There are over 2.6 million co-ops in the world, employing 250 million workers and owned by around one billion members. Cooperation helps communities meet local needs and have more control over their resources, like food, healthcare, housing, equipment, access to markets, and their own labor. Cooperatives nurture a long-term vision for sustainable economic growth, social development and environmental responsibility. Get a global perspective on co-ops from the International Cooperative Alliance.

 

Apply now for the Community Development and Entrepreneurship Clinic

Seattle University is now accepting applications for its Community Development and Entrepreneurship Clinic. 

This no-cost program is a joint effort between the School of Law and School of Business MBA program. The students form consulting teams to work with clients in the community. This is where we need you, the entrepreneur, business owner, or CEO to consider applying to our program. All stages of business and all industries are welcome to apply. What can you expect? A team of students dedicated to helping you with key business and legal deliverables. The students are able to assist on preparing business plans, marketing plans, financial projections, developing employee policies, reviewing contracts, researching business and legal matters, etc.  The program runs from January- April 2019 and its open to the local community. Please note that not all businesses are selected so apply now and join our efforts in developing another successful program.

For an application and additional information please email Madhu Singh, madhu@foundrylawgroup.com.  The process includes a short interview with the professors of the program to provide additional information on the course and learn more about your business.

Member Highlights – Cindy Hagen

Cindy Hagen, Owner
Hagen Insurance Partners

What do I do:

I am an independent insurance agent. Currently my focus is individual and small group health insurance, as well as Medicare. I also offer vision, dental, life, and disability insurance, as well as travel insurance. Basically I offer insurance that covers you, the person. I don’t offer auto, home, or umbrella insurance – that’s just too much for my brain to handle at this time (but I can refer you to colleagues if that is what you are looking for).

Favorite Books:

This is so hard to answer as I always have 2-3 books going at any one time. I tend to veer towards mysteries, sci-fi/fantasy, and YA, with a bit of historical fiction on the side. Still Life by Louise Penny, Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, and The Alice Network by Kate Quinn (WWII female spies!) have been recent favorites.

Insider Tips on Health Insurance:

Open Enrollment is coming soon! If you purchase your own health insurance or have Medicare, open enrollment for 2019 is coming up soon! I don’t think there are going to be many big changes in 2019 – I think companies are hesitant to introduce new plans or tweak benefits until they know what is going to happen with the Affordable Care Act. I can guarantee that rates will go up, as they always do. Rates are still being approved, but companies requested rate hikes from 6-30%. Medicare rates tend to be a bit more stable, so I don’t expect huge increases in that market.

If you purchased your insurance on the WAHealthPlanFinder then Open Enrollment is November 1 – December 15. If you have a Medicare plan, your open enrollment is October 15 – December 7. If you have coverage through your employer, your open enrollment may be this fall, but it could be other times throughout the year (check with your HR department). Did you know that you don’t have to pay an agent to help you navigate the insanity? I am paid on commission by the insurance companies, and if you don’t have an agent the company will happily keep that commission payment for themselves.

What do you do?

So what do I actually do? I help you navigate the choices that are available to you – I am licensed with the companies that sell individual insurance in WA, and am familiar with their products, benefits and networks. I can assist with the application process, help you figure out if you qualify for tax credits to subsidize your premiums, and figure out if your doctors and prescriptions are covered by the insurance company. If none of the plans meet all of your needs, I can help you decide what your best option is (Although sometimes I feel like I help people pick the best of the worst.). Once you have a policy, I can be your advocate with the insurance company if you have problems with bills, claims, or other issues. I can also deal with the WAHealthPlanFinder on your behalf – I know the website can be frustrating, but I use it daily and can remove most of that burden from you.

Why I cowork and what I love about WP:

I worked at home for 6-7 years, and spent a lot of time in my car driving to meet clients.  I also got to know local coffee shops better than I wanted to!  The thing about health and life insurance is that folks often want to meet in person, but they don’t want you to see their messy living room, and a coffee shop may feel too public a space to talk about their needs.  I was also finding that I was easily distracted at home.   One day I fell down an internet rabbit hole and read an article by a working mom – she wrote about her coworking space, and how it helped her work more effectively.  I figured that there had to be some similar options in Seattle, and lo and behold, Works Progress was just a mile away!  I did 2 days a week for the first month I was at WP, and loved it.  I jumped to a full time fixed desk and haven’t looked back.  Even though we are all doing our own thing, it’s a bit of silent encouragement every time I walk in the door.  WP is in a great location, the conference rooms are a huge benefit, and I really enjoy the people here.

Member Highlight – Lewis Lin

Lewis C. Lin is an author, entrepreneur, tech executive, and public speaker.

What do you do?

I’m CEO of two companies: PeopleMaven and Impact Interview. If Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey can run two companies at once, I can too!

PeopleMaven allows you to save, share, and discover amazing people from talented software engineers to homeopathic doctors.

Impact Interview provides interview coaching services for job seekers.

What are a few interesting points about you​?

Dream job: Subway Sandwich Artist

TV show I’m currently watching: Westworld Season 2

What I eat for breakfast: Cupcakes

Favorite drink: The Taro Cocktail that Paul Made 2 Years Ago

You’ll find me saying: “Awesome” or “Dude”

I’m also a proud owner of two rescue piñatas, Larry & Sergey. Inches away from a grisly beheading in 2017, you’ll now find them in our office. Come by and say hello. They love treats!

What are a few interesting points about your work​?

I spend my work day reading about fascinating people, featured on PeopleMaven.

My favorite discovery so far: Hedy Lamarr. Lamarr was a 1940s Hollywood starlet AND invented radio guidance technology for World War II torpedoes. Her invention is now the foundation of AirPods and other Bluetooth devices today.

Why not have it all?

Why do you cowork​?

Compared with working at home or a coffee shop, it has the following benefits:

Fewer distractions

Professional environment for client-facing companies

Amenities including reception, delivery, kitchen facilities

What you love about Works Progress​?

Community is the first thing that comes to mind. Marnee and Mary do an incredible job in finding the nicest members. They also nurture members with an endless array of events from monthly lunches, holiday white elephant parties, and Star Wars movie nights.

Seattle Collaborative Space Alliance – Public Statement

Pleased to share the following statement from the Seattle Coworking Community and proud to be part of this strong and diverse community of individuals: 

Coworking Seattle Calls for Action:

We seek the immediate reunification of families, humane and ethical treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers, and call for action to properly document and take care of all immigrant children in our custody.

As members of the Seattle coworking industry, who have built businesses on the values of Community, Openness, Collaboration, Diversity, Sustainability, and Accessibility, we jointly and strongly condemn the inhumane treatment of immigrant children evidenced by the United States Department of Justice in the past two months. We also strongly condemn the practice of separating children from their families and persecuting asylum seekers.

We believe that innocent children should not be separated from their parents. We believe the “Zero Tolerance” directive issued by Attorney General Jeff Sessions is cruel, immoral and outrageous and demand a plan for the safe and immediate reunification of families, timely processing of asylum seekers, and the fair and ethical treatment of all immigrants, legal or otherwise.

As a nation of immigrants, we demand and expect better, and call on our community to do the same.

Member Highlight – Sherry Bosse Lueders

Sherry Bosse Lueders – Of Counsel Attorney with Stacey L. Romberg, Attorney at Law

What do you do?

I’m a lawyer! I provide legal advice to clients regarding business law, estate planning, and probate.

What are a few interesting points about you​?

​I have an awesome rescue dog, Emily, who is not as into coworking as I am, sadly; she prefers her home office. I’m originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin, but I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for almost 20 years. I worked as a web developer before I went to law school. I like to ride my bike, jog around Ballad, and cross-country ski.

In addition to my work advising clients in estate planning, probate, and business law matters, I’m a fisheries policy geek and I most recently collaborated on research investigating litigation over catch share fishery management.  I have an undergraduate degree in fiction writing, and I remain a voracious reader. I love to talk about books!

What are a few interesting points about your work​?

Stacey Romberg started her law firm in 1999 as a virtual firm, and it remains a virtual firm. We all work from home offices. My work includes advising new businesses regarding entity formation, working with businesses to create “template” contracts, reviewing and negotiating commercial leases, and advising clients regarding the purchase or sale of a business. I also draft wills and trusts and other estate planning documents, as well as represent clients in both routine and complex probates. My first client as an attorney was a woman farmer pursing a discrimination claim against the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We met in a Works Progress conference room.

Why do you cowork​?

I cowork because I like the community, the flexibility of having an office outside my home when I need one, and a welcoming, professional space to meet with clients.

While my home office is my main office, you’ll find me at a “sit here” desk at Works Progress in between meetings with clients, when school is not in session and my son takes over my office for art projects, or when I just need a change of scenery so that I can focus on a writing project away from distractions (I’m a procrastibaker).

What you love about Works Progress​?

I love that I can join a debate about the best technique to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to preserve its structural integrity, that I can get a cup of darn good coffee while I work, that there are yoga ball chairs, and that I can feel like I’m part of the community, even if I don’t cowork every day.

I was an early Works Progress member when my son was a toddler, and I was starting a solo law practice. I needed a space where I could go and get work done.

After a brief hiatus from coworking, I was so excited to return to Works Progress when our firm was looking for a space to meet with clients that was in the neighborhood and that fit the personality of a virtual law firm. Bland conference rooms are not our style!

Member Highlight – Sondra Kornblatt

Sondra Kornblatt, Founder Restful Insomnia

Sondra KornblattRestful Insomnia

What you do​?

I help people who have trouble sleeping move into deep rest. Deep rest reduces the stress of insomnia, renews for more energy the next day, and opens the door to sleep as well. I teach Restful Insomnia techniques through individual coaching; online and in-person training; and video, including a series on insomnia from current events.​

What are a few interesting points about you​?

​I own Sadie, the BEST dog in the world (no kidding, ask anyone at WP), I love free-form dance, and I just got back from Australia watching my daughter’s USA team win the world championship in Ultimate Frisbee.

What are a few interesting points about your work​?

I love helping people realize they have options to renew when they can’t sleep — that they don’t have to suffer, take meds, or just get up. It’s amazing to see how it transforms their nights and days.

Why do you cowork​?

I started coworking when my youngest daughter left for college— I’d have been alone day and night (other than Sadie) if I worked at home, since my husband died about 10 years ago. But now, I can’t imagine working any where else. I have coworkers — yes they have different jobs and companies and industries! — than I do, but we share weekend adventures, struggles, and successes.

What you love about Works Progress​?

How high can I speak the praises of Marnee? She’s created a community, and not just for show. It’s what she values, and she really wants us to thrive as a community and individuals. From the amusing names of the meeting rooms (I love the Shrieking Shack telephone room) to member lunches and happy hours, to commitment to be as eco-friendly as possible, I DO work at home. But my work home is WorksProgress.

Member Highlight – Yutaka Tamura – Executive Director of nXu

Yutaka Tamura, Executive Director at nXu

Member Highlight

Yutaka Tamura – Executive Director of nXu

What are some interesting points about you?What do you do?

Akin to the Boy and Girl Scouts that help youth navigate the wilderness, nXu cultivates a sense of purpose in high school age youth, helping them develop their inner compass as well as the skills necessary to navigate the 21st century wilderness.  As an emerging youth-driven network, we bring together racially and socioeconomically diverse cohorts of high schoolers from different school types for unconventional, immersive, city-based purpose explorations fueled by a volunteer team of coaches. nXu participants take advantage of their home city—from parks and museums to companies and nonprofits—as a foundational resource to understand themselves, build their community, broaden their perspectives, and, most importantly, develop a sense of purpose.

I’m founder of Excel Academy Charter Schools and served for several years as the Chief Operating Officer of Relay Graduate School of Education.  I spent the first several years of my career as a management consultant at The Parthenon Group. I earned my B.A., magna cum laude, from Amherst College, and earned my MAT with distinction from Relay Graduate School of Education.

Why do you cowork?

Given my team is dispersed nationally, coworking allows me to have a sense of community.  It also allows me to work flexibly.

What you love about Works Progress?

The warm, non-corporate vibe.

We’re hiring!

Works Progress is seeking a motivated individual to work part-time as our mail services account coordinator. This position will include the management, maintenance, and growth of our current business mail, virtual business, and Registered Agent account services. In addition, the position may assist with office reception and other duties as assigned.

The position is $15/hour and will average 5-10 hours per week. This position may grow with the right person. Preferred hours are between 4pm-6pm Monday through Friday, but are flexible and may vary.

For more information, please send an email inquiry.

Meet a Member Monday

While it’s still technically Monday, we’d like to introduce you to Cindy Hagen, our very own in-house health insurance expert! A life long Seattleite, she is the daughter of a retired independent insurance agent, and has grown up around the business. She has been her own boss since 2007, since buying out her father’s business, Hagen Insurance Partners. In her time off, you will find her reading a good book, shuttling her kids to their activities, going to a Mariner game, or waiting for the next Doctor Who episode to be released. With so many independents around the office, it’s great to have Cindy as a resource for our health insurance questions! #meetamemebermonday