Coworkly draws a new generation of entrepreneurs to Vanier

Montreal Road space to mark International Coworking Day on Aug. 9

From startup founders to freelancers to federal bureaucrats, professionals across the National Capital Region are embracing coworking – a popular trend that’s attracted and nurtured a new cohort of professionals in Vanier.

Working alongside other individuals engaged in different projects and initiatives gives remote workers and the self-employed the option to escape their kitchen table or a noisy coffee shop for ample, open space as well as high-speed internet, coffee and a community of like-minded professionals.

 

“I was frustrated to see so much of the space of the building was vacant,” Arar says. “I changed real estate agents four times only to realize it was not the agent: People did not want to come to Vanier. I decided to turn the space into a beautiful coworking space to attract them to Vanier.”



Vanier is home to one of the city’s growing coworking spaces. Coworkly is located at 261 Montreal Rd. inside an office building that was formerly home to several medical clinics and organizations. It was only after Ottawa entrepreneur Maher Arar purchased the building several years ago and kept coming up short on leasing out the office space he decided to do something different.

“I was frustrated to see so much of the space of the building was vacant,” Arar says. “I changed real estate agents four times only to realize it was not the agent: People did not want to come to Vanier. I decided to turn the space into a beautiful coworking space to attract them to Vanier.”

Coworkly opened its doors in April 2018 and welcomed its first tenants to a facility that features exposed ceilings, open and comfortable workspaces, glass-walled meeting rooms and free coffee and tea.

In addition to the physical space, Arar also organizes free weekly lunch-and-learn information sessions and provides indoor bike storage and showers for tenants.

There are also phone booths and a quiet room for naps, meditation and yoga.

But it’s not just the amenities that are proving popular with Coworkly users. Tenants say being surrounded by talented, like-minded individuals has helped build their businesses.

SparkPath founder JP Michel says that, in hindsight, he regrets having worked for so long at home and in coffee shops. The online work-ready resource company now leases office space at Coworkly.

“I’ve helped several people with their businesses, and several people have helped me,” Michel says. “I’ve hired members for different jobs, and I have received help or advice from several people who are more experienced than I am in certain areas.”

International Coworking Day

The coworking movement is often said to have started in 2005 in San Francisco by software engineer Brad Neuberg.

“I was confused because I had both worked for myself and worked at a job and was unhappy because I couldn’t seem to combine all the things I wanted at the same time: the freedom and independence of working for myself along with the structure and community of working with others,” Neuberg wrote on his blog, Coding in Paradise.

Fast-forward 14 years later and his idea is now a global phenomenon celebrated annually with International Coworking Day, which will be held on Aug. 9.

To celebrate here in Vanier, Arar said Coworkly will offer the community complimentary coworking inside for the day. Additionally, the company will set up two coworking tables outside the building in the green space across from Coworkly.

“Coworking is being and working with like-minded individuals who support each other,” Arar says. “It helps people escape social isolation at home and the noise and unreliable internet at coffee shops. Coworking helps entrepreneurs, remote workers, and freelancers be more productive.”

He adds that Vanier proved to be an ideal neighbourhood in which to launch Coworkly, given its proximity to downtown Ottawa, large concentration of young professionals and a multitude of restaurants and unique shops in the immediate vicinity.

“What makes me happy is that people from all walks of life joined Coworkly,” Arar says. “We have a sense of community. We are like one family. We take care of each other.”