New to Hopkins’ Mainstreet is The Commons, a coworking office space remote workers, freelancers and entrepreneurs can choose as an alternative to working at home, in coffeeshops or at the library.

Members can pick a spot at one of the many seating options, from community tables to comfy armchairs, plus use a shared kitchen with free coffee and a dishwasher, a meeting room, secure wi-fi and helpful receptionist. There are also membership options for designated desks and private offices.

This is the third location for sisters and co-owners Peggy Stefan and Tammy Magney. They first opened in Excelsior in 2012, then in Minnetonka in 2013. Members can work at any location.

It all began six years ago when Stefan, a life coach, and Magney, an architect, both needed space to conduct their businesses and meet with clients. They looked at becoming members at coworking spaces in Minneapolis, but decided against it because of the traffic and commute. They realized shortly thereafter that there was an unfulfilled demand for coworking spaces in the west metro.

“We wanted to work closer to where we lived. Going downtown from Excelsior wasn’t very appealing, and even today, there really aren’t, on this west side of town, any other coworking places,” Stefan said.

Thus, they opened their own. What sets The Commons apart is its “more funky and more laidback” vibe, according to Stefan.

“The lane we run in is: We’re locally owned. We’re on the west side. You can work where you live. We aren’t in strip malls or great big corporate office buildings. We’re on Mainstreet in Hopkins, we’re on Lake Street in Excelsior,” Stefan said.

The Commons, and the coworking industry, is growing as more and more companies forgo office space. The benefits of coworking include socialization, productivity and professionalism, according to Stefan.

There is no typical member. A wide range of employees—writers, techies, real estate agents, lawyers, salespeople—become coworkers.

“You have all these coworkers, but no office politics,” Stefan said.

What these diverse coworkers have in common is being local.

“The common thing, if you could put one thing on it, is they live within a few miles of The Commons. They’re local. No one comes from far to come to work at The Commons. It’s about being in their community, interacting with their neighbors,” Stefan said.

Working together at a coworking space can combat the loneliness that often comes with working from home.

“The thought of being at home all day working was very isolating to both of us and not something we wanted to do,” Stefan recalled. “And we knew that there are other people out there who felt the same way.”

Friendships can form between members, who often partake in happy hours and potlucks.

“Members just like being around the energy of other people … They get a ton out of it. They get sort of a tribe to be part of, kind of a posse. They make amazing friendships,” Stefan said.

Beyond that, social connections can naturally lead to professional networking.

“They make incredible contacts. They all have opportunities to do business together,” Stefan said.

Adam Bevis, the young COO of Hopkins-based Youth Zone Fitness, has been coworking at The Commons for about a year. The two-person company has no leased office spaces.

“Everyone’s connected. It’s like a built-in network,” Bevis said. Beyond networking, he mentioned that one of the benefits is simply “having a space to go to.”

Coworking can also create a divide between a professional and personal life that can overlap when working from home and hinder productivity.

“Members are much more productive. They’re in a place with other professionals. You’re there to work. All of us are guilty, when we do work at home, we’re distracted by whatever—vacuuming, the dishwasher. Laundry becomes very interesting when you’re trying to meet a deadline. And you’re never away from work then,” Stefan said.

The “coworker” rate, in which one picks a spot to work in the common area, costs $200 per month. A designated, semi-private desk costs $390 per month. A private office costs $470 to 900 per month. Non-members can co-work by the hour for $5 or for the day at $30.

The Commons will host an open house 4-6 p.m. Thursday, May 31, at its new location, 915 Mainstreet.

Copyright © 2018 at Sun Newspapers/APG Media of East Central Minnesota. Digital dissemination of this content without prior written consent is a violation of federal law and may be subject to legal action.

I am a reporter for the Sun Sailor, covering Minnetonka, Excelsior, Shorewood, Tonka Bay, Deephaven, Greenwood, Woodland and the Hopkins School District.

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