Childcare Coworking Spaces

On-site childcare coworking spaces is perhaps the Holy Grail for working parents. Startups, freelancers, and corporate coworkers alike dream of easier, shorter commutes without multiple stops, and of environments in which mom or dad can work productively while their kids can play and learn safely and happily––all under one roof.

The model, however, remains elusive, and few childcare coworking spaces have yet to implement programs with successful longevity. To do so requires the precarious juggling act of obtaining the right space, solidifying the precise offerings, and navigating a labyrinth of regulations. On the Everything Coworking Podcast, for example, Diane Rothschild, former President and CEO of NextSpace and Chief Mom of NextKids, discusses the challenges to and necessities for operating a successful coworking space with on-site childcare. For reference, NextSpace was established in 2008 and currently has nine locations in the Bay and Chicagoland areas. NextKids was open for three years at the Potrero Hill location but recently closed.

CoWork CoPlay in Arlington, VA

CoWork CoPlay in Arlington, VA

Rothschild notes that on top of the right timing, the right partners, the right building structure, the right childcare philosophy,etc., cost remains one of the greatest impediments to thriving childcare coworking spaces. She notes that in most ways, these programs are similar to schools, and that the average school takes three years to break even after opening. The attractive attributes that childcare programs share with schools (all-day programs, highly qualified and trained teachers, etc.) take a great deal of startup capital and require long-term investment to see profit. Additionally, workspace zoning laws as well as well as childcare regulations creates myriad legal hoops to jump through––which also necessitates time, patience, and money. Finally, she stresses that because childcare coworking spaces are so new, they require carefully fine-tuned marketing. Many people (falsely) believe, for example, that on-site childcare will create a noisy and distracting coworking space, which is almost never the case, and must be dispelled through proper representation.

Nido in Durham, NC

Nido in Durham, NC

NextKids isn't the first program to face struggles.  The Village (previously Collide Coworking) in Chicago, Illinois, has been working on this concept for years to provide infant care, childcare, and Christian childcare alongside coworking space. Ellie's Coworking + Childcare (AKA Women's Business Incubator) in Seattle, Washington is still attempting to launch. That said, the high demand for the ideal professional setting complete with childcare is driving the market for these programs and plenty of them are running and thriving. Nido (Coworking + Childcare) in Durham, North Carolina, boasts a bright, quite workspace and a traditional Montessori classroom for children. Brooklyn Explorers Academy in Brooklyn, New York was established in 2006, has served 874 families, and is complete with a universal pre-K program, a preschool, summer camps, and family getaways on top of a Chic workspace. CoWork CoPlay in Arlington, Virginia is now fully operational since the Spring and includes childcare for non coworking members. And Women's Plaza, set to open this year in Portland, Oregon, provides a unique model of coworking and childcare that centers around feminine empowerment.

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