One of the members working at the Mind Tank Ross coworking center near San Rafael on a Monday morning was Michael Roberts, senior executive editor of Outside magazine.
He’s one of a growing number of remotely working professionals in the North Bay and elsewhere who are opting to do their business from shared office space, rather than home or a coffee shop. A 2018 Global Coworking Survey estimates that 1.7 million people will be coworking in about 19,000 spaces worldwide. Less than one-third are a year old, and one-quarter has 150 or more members.
A major player in coworking, WeWork, is set to open the North Bay’s largest such center, 30,000 square feet, in Mill Valley late this year. Meanwhile, existing players such as Mind Tank are expanding and homegrown newcomers such as coLAB in Santa Rosa are opening.
Roberts had been working from home until his children had grown to an age where he needed a workspace elsewhere. He started out renting space in friends’ offices in Sausalito, until their new office needs parted ways with his. Then he read about the recent opening of Mind Tank, located near his San Anselmo home.
“I feel like I fit neatly in a growing category of people who are empowered, through whatever their professional situations are, to work at home but can’t, because the kids find you,” Roberts said.
He still works from home, usually after his children are asleep, but the need to focus takes him to Mind Tank three to five days a week.
Two years after launching in the San Rafael suburb of Ross, Mind Tank Work Club (mindtank.com) has opened a second location, spurred by a member that needed more space and ferry access to San Francisco, according to founder and operator Sally Newson.
“Though the coworking space itself is quite small, the building itself offers a lot,” Newson said.
Mind Tank leased about 400 square feet in an office building at 100 Larkspur Landing Circle, across Sir Francis Drake Boulevard from Golden Gate Ferry’s Larkspur terminal. It opened July 1, driven by the need of Ross member Nick Narodny to expand his startup off-market residential real estate exchange, Aalto, to have room for a half-dozen employees near the ferry terminal to accommodate hires from San Francsico, according to Newson.
Newson designed the interiors of the club spaces in Ross and Larkspur, going for a rustic and vintage look in some areas by sourcing some features like a lamp and 1920s tavern bar from architectural salvage yards and donated furniture from a club member.
The Ross club has two dedicated desks for rent, with some others potentially available. The rest of the table and bar spaces are open for coworking members to alight with their laptops for the day.
Newson operates her own marketing agency, Nunn & Associates, and a nonprofit startup, so she is working from the Ross site three to four days a week. So while the club doesn’t have an official space-reservation system to make sure there’s enough desks for all the members who want to work on a given day and at a given time, that’s not been a problem so far, Newson said.
“It’s not cubicles and stark white,” Newson said. “I call it an industrial chic look that’s conducive to working. You don’t have fluorescent lights.”
Coworking facilities in this article
Mind Tank Work Club
23 Ross Common, Suite 5, Ross, CA 94957
427 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Office Evolution Mill Valley
100 Shoreline Highway, Building B, Suite 100, Mill Valley, CA 94941
1 Belvedere Drive, Mill Valley, CA 94941