Business: Co-working office spaces are networking opportunities


By Kate Bradshaw | Almanac Staff Writer

It seems that everyone has a different idea for how to use the comparatively expansive square-footage in Menlo Park's M-2 area east of U.S. 101, whether it's indoor badminton courts at Synergy Badminton Club, wine and car storage at AutoVino, or a preschool with an indoor playground at Casa dei Bambini, which closed earlier this year.

"Spaces," a 30,000-square-foot "co-working" office rental facility that opened in July at 101 Jefferson Drive in Menlo Park, has added its take to the mix.

Co-working spaces are areas where self-employed and work-from-home-types, or, young startup companies, can work and network with each other.

Other co-working spaces in Menlo Park are The Pad at 1370 Willow Road and BootUp World at 68 Willow Road.

The interior of Spaces is split into two areas, with an 8,000 square-foot "business club" area mostly on the first floor, and 23,000 square feet of office space for rent on the first and second floors.

Private office rent starts at $600 a month.

The business club is an open co-working area, where people who pay $250 a month for a membership can work and collaborate at desks, cafe tables, couches and booths, as well as in meeting rooms. That area has a cafe with a full-time barista and a gaming lounge where people can play video games.

"We all have a different way of working," said Luna Duarte, area manager for the Amsterdam-based company, also called Spaces, which says it has 10 such co-working facilities around the world.

The atmosphere of the "business club" seems to be tailored to the mobile worker, who can work from his or her laptop on the go. The decor is modern with a distinct techy-artsy-warehouse vibe, with art and posters on the walls, words written in bold lettering and table centerpieces with decorative games on them, such as a polished wood Connect Four set and a Jenga tower centerpiece.

"We're not a frathouse," said Ms. Duarte, who described the intended atmosphere as sophisticated but not stuffy.

Office rental space, by contrast, is more austere, visible through plexiglass walls. The offices come with desks and file lockers and can be decorated as tenants wish, Ms. Duarte said.

Two workers who moved into one of the new offices were Neil Butani and Bob Perreault of ESQ Business Services, a company that manages ATMs. They said they liked the location because of its easy access to Bayfront Expressway.

Meeting rooms are available for rent, said Stephen Farley, CEO of Regus, North America, an office space rental agency that operates Spaces.

The Menlo Park facility is Spaces' first West Coast location. The company says it plans to add nine facilities this year, including in San Francisco at 95 Third St. and in San Jose at 3031 Tisch Way.

"Obviously, Menlo Park is a huge up-and-coming place," said Ms. Duarte when asked why the company picked Menlo Park.

So far, the site has about 12 businesses renting offices, with about 20 to 25 people working there, she said. The site has 400 desks available for rent, according to the Spaces website.

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