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Last night the New Tech Group, a Web and tech-centric networking group in South Florida, gathered to celebrate an anniversary and get the first look at a new working environment. Although Caffeine Spaces is a long way from an official ribbon cutting, it was clear to all in attendance that the huge space located just steps from Florida Atlantic University’s Boca Raton campus will become a place to work and forge new connections.
A co-working space is not the same as a virtual office. Virtual offices have been around for several years. The main benefit they offer is the appearence of a professional office without the full-time overhead.
With a virtual office, you have the prestige of a business address and a professional receptionist to answer and route your incoming phone calls. You use meeting and office space only when you need it. Co-working takes this idea a few steps further. This space isn’t as much about creating a professional facade as it is about having a work environment that encourages collaboration and networking. In a co-working environment, like Caffeine Spaces, there are huge open areas for people to work, gather, and communicate. According to Mark Laymon, the driving force behind Caffeine Spaces,
“We a suffering a brain drain of tech startups and entrepreneurs in South Florida. By creating a network of coworking spaces I hope to have an impact in keeping more of the talent locally. What we are creating is as close to a professional business clubhouse as possible. All the amenities of a large office are included, but none of the overhead. Becoming a coworking member is much more than renting a desk, it is joining a community of like minded individuals that want to work in a group environment, but still have the flexibility of working for themselves.”
The 11,000 square-foot facility we toured last night is just the first of several planned. The space will have a mix of hot desks, fixed desks, and executive offices to be used on a day-to-day basis. There will also be phone booths for “private calls.” To round out the needs of the technologically savvy co-workers, there will be a kitchen, several full-sized conference rooms, and a pod-casting/green-screen room.
The level of involvement among the tech community in South Florida is outstanding. Be sure to check back often for interviews with the people involved in this co-working project.