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Susan King Glosby and Nora FitzGerald: Women-Owned WorkAway Solutions

Susan King Glosby and Nora FitzGerald were interviewed about WorkAway Solutions on May 31, 2018 by Sajid Islam.

Background

Susan and Nora knew each other as friends.  They depended on one another to take care of each other’s children and support one another’s work.  They would occasionally cowork at each other’s houses but primarily worked from home. However, one day in June of 2017, the two went to a cafe for a change of scenery.  There, they spent $40 on food which is crazy! Right then, Susan and Nora decided they needed a coworking space.

With everything going on in their lives, if they did not pull the trigger now, the idea would disappear.  It was a very quick decision but the two knew they wanted to embark on the journey together. Within the span of seven months, they opened their very own space.  Their timeline went something like: forming the idea in June, planning in July, finding a space in August, signing a lease in September, building out in October, and opening WorkAway Solutions early November.  

Finding a Space and Lease

Susan did not engage a real estate agent to help negotiate a commercial lease until after she found a space.  She was looking for somewhere warm and inviting. Many of the office buildings in the area are old, closed-in, 70s medical buildings with very small windows.  However, their unit has windows on both which really opens up the space and provides plenty of natural light.

One of the women who worked in the real estate office had worked from a coworking space before and vouched for their idea.  Overtime, the cultivation of culture within their space was pleasing to the real estate office. WorkAway has helped bring new people into the building.  Now, they are talking about an expansion for other parts of the building which are currently vacant.

Marketing

WorkAway is located in the suburbs and people do not typically think of looking for a coworking space in the suburbs.  However, there are a lot of people in the area that work from home. It is reaching out and finding people who would be interested in the community they are trying to build that has been difficult.

They also host a variety of events to reach different demographics.  Facebook has been helpful with getting involved in community groups. There are a lot of local groups where people share information.  Susan and Nora will go on those groups and post about promotions they are having.

Their marketing approach is very grassroots.  One marketing tool they have found to be very effective is going to coffeeshops.  There, they look at who is working and give them a day pass for WorkAway which allows them to check out the space without any commitment.

Design and Software

Susan and Nora found themselves to be very luck as far as the physical space goes.  The conference room and office space were already built in so no work had to be done there.  However, they got a phone booth built in and opened up the kitchen. Most of their efforts went towards deciding what their style would be —  mid-century modern.

Since they opened their space in such short time, they chose Nexudus because they have a templated website.  They did not have to spend the money or time to build their own. Unfortunately, now they are wanting more in terms of capability, plug-in, etc.  On the other hand, most people are not finding WorkAway through their site. They search on Google first where they have pictures, reviews, and other content that gives a good first impression.

Community and Culture

As two women founders, there was some pressure to be a space solely for women.  However, they felt that did not align with their vision. Instead, they are proud to be women owned but not women space.  In fact, their founding members consisted of men which was not what they expected, but welcomed nonetheless.

WorkAway is working on creating a collaborative community that contains diverse experiences among members.  This goal has had some organic cultivation already. Members will ask each other questions and work together on content.  Susan and Nora find joy in facilitating these interactions and creating meaningful connections. Their vision has been to host one networking event per month to allow people to get to know each other.  WorkAway wants to share the ideas of others for a peer-to-peer learning environment.

Watch the full interview below!

 


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