Outlier Plan Coworks from the Heart of Waterfront Toronto

Mahtot Gebresselassie of Outlier Plan, a boutique urban planning firm, has written a very interesting article about coworking and why they chose The Rostie Group as their coworking solution…

Outlier Plan Coworks from the Heart of Waterfront Toronto – Mahtot Gebresselassie

What is coworking? Coworking space as we know it now was first introduced in 2005 in San Francisco even though the concept existed in different forms since the 90s. Fast forward to 2013; there were about 2500 co-working spaces worldwide. DeskMag reported that in 2013, an average of 4.5 coworking spaces opened every day around the world. There is a growing community of this new office culture in Canada, too. But first things first: Is it “co-working” or “coworking”? Well, Coworking Canada (yes, there is such an association) prefers “coworking”, without the dash in between. We like it without the dash, too. Coworking Canada also defines the culture as follows:

Coworking is about making the personal choice to work alongside other people instead of in isolation. For some, coworking is all about the accelerated serendipity that comes from individuals intermixing in person as opposed to online. For others it’s the motivation and accountability gained from working within a set of peers. And sometimes it’s just a reason to put on some pants and get out of the house in the morning. 

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Source: The Toronto Star

There are about 100 coworking offices in Canada with a membership of 4,100 people and with over 20 of these offices located in Toronto. They offer a range of packages from flexible desks, to dedicated desks, to private offices. There are associations that provide support too; there is a Coworking Toronto and a Coworking Ontario and a Coworking Canada. In fact, Coworking Ontario became the first in the world to offer health insurance for members of coworking spaces in the province.

Why do we want to talk about coworking? When we decided to start our consulting firm Outlier Planning, Research, and Facilitation, it was to be in the Water Park building at 20 Bay Street with the Rostie Group, on the 11th floor. It was the right fit for us. We like to work in downtown, it is convenient for our preferred modes of transportation, we like nice office spaces, and the waterfront is just a few minutes walking distance – two minutes to be exact. We also are not tied down by lease; we can stay or move on as our demand changes in just a month’s notice. Rent and cost for office facilities are reasonable. To rent an individual conventional office space on Bay Street would have been unaffordable – in fact, unthinkable – for a start-up company like ours. Even though we are disciplined enough to work from our kitchen tables, we figured we wouldn’t be as effective as having an office to go to every morning. That is why we love coworking and talking about it!


Guest waiting area

Our coworking experience has been enjoyable so far. We share an office space with multiple professionals and we run into many others in the shared kitchen and in the corridors. They come from different professions and different cities in and around the GTA. We meet cool people from different industries whom we would not have been able to in our regular day to day work. Meet some of them below.

Brice Roberts: Brice works for himself; he has his own firm, Valih Consulting, which specializes in financial software development with subsidiaries in Quebec and New York State. In the past he worked with alternative working arrangements such as Informaticiens Reunis in Quebec and the Freelancers’ Union in New York to get cheap medical insurance and other benefits. That informed his decision to “use new concepts of shared spaces” and go for coworking as he puts it. Before coming to the Rostie Group’s space, he was with another similar facility. He didn’t like the environment and the service. He says it lacked “human touch”. That is what he found at this coworking space. For him the smiles he gets during his day, the quality of the space, which is full of flowers, and sunlight through a window make a difference. That is why he plans to stay as long as he can.

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A view from coworking space

Brule Nanton: Works for Clarity Hosting Solutions, a data hosting (in the cloud) solutions provider. Coworking at the Rostie Group is beneficial in that the office is in close proximity to one of their Data Centers in the GTA (downtown at 151 Front Street). It is important to have 24hr access to the office space, and part of their coworking package allows them to book rooms for client and staff meetings. The quality of the space and the reasonable rent are two other reason why this coworking office works for Clarity Hosted Solutions. Brule says he enjoys coworking here because of the interaction with other fellow coworkers. For the company, this arrangement is permanent as they need to be close to their downtown Data Center as their other office that they maintain at the Data Center in Markham.

Heather Spiegel works for Promeus Inc., a recruiting firm that works with executives for the public sector, specifically health and education. It is a boutique firm therefore it is convenient for them to share space in a coworking office instead of renting an entire suite. Heather says that they are happy here at the Rostie Group for a number of reasons: it is convenient both for staff and the candidates they interview as the location is close to the subway and the highway; the space is beautiful with lots of light; the staff is approachable, accommodating, and responsible with confidential material. Just like us at Outlier Plan, they like the fact that they can interact with professionals from other industries. In fact, Heather and our urban planner Mahtot “co-eat” lunch every once in a while!

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One of the meeting rooms

Victoria Syme: is a marketing and communications consultant with boutique marketing agency, Harmony. Prior to her coworking with us, she was at the company’s store front office at another location. When the company expanded, they needed more space and more facilities. They found that the Rostie Group was the perfect choice for them. Harmony coproduces the Redpath Waterfront Festival and proximity to the Waterfront was important. The fact that the Rostie Group was involved with the Waterfront community was another reason for their choice. Victoria says that she doesn’t want to work from home. She says she is young, social and enjoys meeting people, something she wouldn’t have been able to do had she worked from home. The fact that there are great facilities here at the Rostie Group including the meeting rooms make her coworking preferable to working from home or a retail space.

After we talked to the above cool people, we decided to evaluate the Toronto Star’s Profile of a Coworker. Below is the comparison.

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Feel free to browse the Outlier Plan website and view the complete article here.