By Ben McCarthy
Three years ago, new Cowork Waldo President Zubin Talib was grappling with the reality of Covid-19 lockdown measures around the city, and people’s hesitancy to go into and operate in shared spaces. A new era of remote work from the comfort of home seemed to be underway, leaving collaborative, shared workspaces like his in danger of becoming obsolete.
Something strange was also happening.
Clients, who were not coming into the building, continued to pay for their spaces. Talib and his wife, co-founder Talyn Good, were stunned.
“The members continued to pay during Covid because they wanted to see Cowork continue,” Talib said. “That was humbling.”
Talib and Good had only taken over Cowork Waldo from Melissa Saubers a few weeks before Covid-19 lockdown measures went into effect/ They had been members of the space in the years leading up to the pandemic.
Five years ago, Talib was driving into the midtown area every day from Raymore just to drop his kids off at school on Wornall. He’d drive back to his home, where he would run his software consulting business into the early afternoon, before heading back to Waldo to pick up his kids. The daily commute eventually drove him to research co-working spaces in the immediate area where he could get his work done and be available to his kids in the afternoon. The Kenyan native tried a few other coworking spaces in town before landing at Cowork Waldo. He loved the low cost of membership, and having all the needed office tools and amenities, but something about the space felt different, and there was a sense of community he was connecting with that intrigued him.
“There was a real heavy focus community,” Talib said. “All the members (of Cowork Waldo) know each other. There’s a camaraderie you don’t get anywhere else.”
Since Cowork Waldo ownership was transferred to them in 2020, Talib and Good have also taken steps to find new ways to help grow the coworking community model around town. Recently, they finalized a partnership with Centriq and its local campus at 92nd and State Line Road. Centriq, which provides IT Training, will house “Cowork @ Centriq,” with the aim of helping small businesses and IT students connect and collaborate in shared spaces.
“It’s an ideal environment for startups where they have access to students who are learning to code and design,” Talib said. “It’s really a great opportunity to encourage collaboration between all small businesses here in town and students ready to showcase what they can do.”
Centriq President Kevin Gawe says members will find the coworking options incredibly flexible, and will enjoy being provided with all-inclusive amenities, including: fully furnished offices with high-speed internet (2GB), receptionist and mail services, utilities and parking, and meeting/event space facilities accommodating up to 40 people. Members are not required to sign a lease, and will have hourly, daily, and monthly rates to choose from. Centriq CFO Dean Bezdek says they are excited to be bringing more local businesses into these spaces, like the recently opened Hollywood Animation Academy, which started offering classes at the building in January.
Talib and Good will help manage the space and work with everyone who signs up and becomes a member. Like members at Cowork Waldo, signups at the Centriq campus will have access to special events that the couple put on as part of their efforts to help further that sense of camaraderie in the coworking community that they discovered years ago.
“Coworking spaces really started as a community endeavor,” Talib said. “Certain coworking (companies) came along and took the focus off of that and made it into a more corporate (operation). With the pandemic over, people are coming back to work in communal areas and finding it to be very natural again.”