The future of work: Shared spaces abound in C’ville

James Barton of Studio IX and Vault Virginia says coworking spaces help fulfill the needs of the modern worker. Photo: Stephen Barling James Barton of Studio IX and Vault Virginia says coworking spaces help fulfill the needs of the modern worker. Photo: Stephen Barling

Throughout modern history, certain movements have changed how we work—the Industrial Revolution, the birth of the personal computer, and more recently, the arrival of social media. These transformations have also changed where we work (and even when we want to work).

Are you an anti-9-to-5-er who likes working for yourself? An entrepreneur who isn’t ready to commit to an office lease? Or maybe you’re a side hustler, freelancer, or teleworker who likes the flexibility of working wherever you want, but still craves connection and collaboration?

Then coworking has probably crossed your mind. And Charlottesville—as small of a city as it is—is replete with shared work environments and options to suit various work needs and styles.

Studio IX, co-founded in 2014 by Natalie and James Barton in a former textile factory on Second Street, was one of the first co-working spaces to hit the scene.

“In the modern digital renaissance, information technology has created new industries and new options for organizing ourselves,” James Barton says. Out were factories and corporate offices, he adds, and in were home offices and coffee shops. Then coworking spaces came along to fill in the gaps, “allowing people to share resources and, more importantly, experience connection as well as personal and professional growth through daily engagement with communities of peers.”

At Studio IX, you can grab a $30 day pass, or choose from a menu of four different memberships, including $800 to $1,500 monthly private office options. Workers gain access to such amenities as high-speed internet, soundproof booths for private calls, conference rooms available for booking, all the freshly roasted coffee you can guzzle, and a light-infused industrial work space.

Five years later, recognizing the trend was still on the rise, Barton founded his second coworking endeavor, Vault Virginia, in a former bank building on the Downtown Mall. At the multi-floor, 25,000 square foot Vault, day passes are $50, while on the high end, private office memberships run up to $700 to $2,500 per month, with various options in between.

“Studio IX and Vault Virginia are both focused on creating ideal work experiences for our members,” Barton says. “Beyond the essential furnished, open workspaces and private offices, there are shared kitchens, meeting rooms, multi-purposed gallery spaces, event spaces—and in development, functional ‘labs’ for various kinds of creative production.”

Barton says Studio IX and Vault Virginia members tend to be freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small teams, or those who work remotely for larger organizations.

While it doesn’t bill itself as a coworking space, Common House, a Downtown Mall social club and gathering space, is also a place where members can break out their laptops and work communally.

“Often freelancers and entrepreneurs [and so on] are working from home or hopping anonymously between coffee shops,” says Derek Sieg, Common House co-founder. “Membership to Common House compliments the freedom you get from a freelancing [or] self-employed job with a full slate of curated programming and social opportunities that can lead to a friendship or collaborator or some well-timed inspiration,” he says.

If you are looking for something a tad homey-er, The Farm House in the 10th and Page neighborhood offers co-working studio space to artists, entrepreneurs, and community leaders.

Next on the horizon: hedge fund CEO Jaffray Woodriff’s tech incubator, the Center of Developing Entrepreneurs, now under construction at the west end of the Downtown Mall. CODE will have co-working space on two floors of its multi-story structure. “It will have it’s own little sanctuary [and] it’s own entrance,” says Andrew Boninti, president of CSH Development, which is building CODE for Woodriff. But you’ll have to wait a bit longer to get in there—construction of CODE is estimated to be completed in spring 2021.

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