In a pricey resort town with limited developable land, space in Whistler has long come at a premium.
It’s resulted in a relative lack of so-called “third places”—a term coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg referring to places where people can connect beyond home and work—that aren’t just restaurants or bars.
Combine that with the rush of remote workers that sought natural, green spaces during the pandemic, and it’s safe to reason that Whistler could use all of the shared, communal space it can get.
Enter Coworking Whistler, the community’s newest shared office space, which officially opened last month in Village Square. Run by Whistlerites Helen Astle and Will Stewart, who both started operating their own online businesses in the pandemic, Coworking Whistler offers a range of desktop memberships for locals and visitors.
“So far, the interest has been amazing. In the first month, we’ve had visitors from over half a dozen countries and all across Canada.” said Stewart in a release “But, what’s most exciting for us is having a new space for locals to get work done, make new connections and potentially collaborate.”
The pair said the main goal of the new venture is to offer “a way for entrepreneurs, creators and remote workers to build their own balanced life while still tapping into a community of like-minded individuals—something that’s been lacking here for several years.”
Studies have shown that the main downfall of working from home for remote workers is having fewer opportunities to connect and engage with others in an office or shared workplace setting.
“One afternoon two of our members spit-balled a new idea and, in a matter of weeks, built a sauna and ice bath tracking app,” Astle said in the release. “This never would have happened if they had been working at home or from a coffee shop. It’s a perfect example of how, in today’s online world, Whistler can very quickly build things the whole world can use.”
They also view the space as a way to cater to “a new genre of traveller,” people who want to extend their vacation by adding remote work day to their trip.
“We are seeing a range of people blending their holiday with work,” Astle said. “This is a huge win for Whistler, because if someone can double the length of their stay by simply working a few hours a day, it allows that visitor to establish a stronger connection with our community and it can bring more money in to the local economy.”
Campbell Baron, co-founder of tech start-up Montra, said in the release that his company’s productivity has benefitted from having a shared office space in Whistler.
“The environment you work in has a massive impact on your productivity. As a remote-first company with most of our team out East, being able to escape to the mountains and maintain productivity is the dream,” he said. “Coworking [Whistler] helped make that possible.”
Coworking Whistler has up to 12 desks available, and membership plans range from $45 for single-day access (from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday), to $600 for a month of full access at a large desk. There is also a private office available, suitable for up to three people, which costs $1,500 for a full month’s access. There are also potential discounts available for long-term access.
The space, located at 4309 Village Stroll, contains a communal kitchen and shared washroom facilities.
Visit coworkingwhistler.com for more information.