Fitness-Centered, Rentable Spaces

April 14, 2008
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KENTWOOD — A study done by Arizona-based The Work Design Collaborative LLC for WIRED West Michigan has resulted in The Collective, health clubs that offer office space rentable by the hour, week, month or year.

The study, “Knowledge Workers and Economic Development,” examined the use of remote work centers that provide office space for knowledge-based workers, who Gerry Barnaby, vice president and director of marketing for The Collective, described as “people who don’t have the head-down, manufacturing aspect.”

Remote work centers cut down on commutes and save employers money by reducing their building costs. The study revealed that an employer could save $4,000 per year per employee by not needing such a large building.

Barnaby believes that “there’s a lot of synergy that can be achieved when you have residential, retail, restaurants, workouts, work-and-learn. You throw them all together and you have almost a village waiting to happen.”

And that’s what The Collective is looking to do. Each location will offer office space, meeting rooms and full gym service. Currently, The Collective is fully functional at its Kentwood location, with another set to go up in the Eastowne Development in Norton Shores, and a third with office space available in Zeeland.

The Kentwood location in the former Steelcase gym has been renovated into nine offices, conference rooms, presentation spaces and wireless, high-definition projection rooms. It offers the capability of holding seminars for more than 40 people. There are also two rooms dedicated to art and music — and a coffee shop.

In addition to office-related spaces, The Collective offers a full fitness facility, including a large climbing wall, a pool and racquetball courts, and spinning, aerobics and gravity classes. It will also host continuing education classes on topics such as how to get the most out of cell phones and BlackBerrys, and instructional courses on using Windows and Mac-based computers.

The idea for The Collective was spawned by Bob Dykstra, president of The Collective and Main Street Development, who, Barnaby said, believes that the workplace of the future will not be the corporate hub. Barnaby reiterates that as corporations try to become more “agile,” one of the first things to address is downsizing the corporate footprint. And because of technology, more and more workers are being moved off-site.

The Work Design Collaborative study concluded that in the coming years, 40 percent of work will be done at the office, 30 percent at a home office, and the remaining 30 percent at a “third place,” such as hotel lobbies, restaurants or coffee shops “where you have to talk over the cappuccino machine,” said Barnaby.

Privacy is one advantage that The Collective has over coffee houses, Barnaby said.

“People still need to have a space to get work done in,” he said.

A remote work center offers tenants copy machines and shipping services, and provides an office address, if needed. Members pay an annual fee of $150, plus $35 per month. This includes discounts on classes and preference on room rentals. In addition, members can put a hold on their membership at any time at no extra cost. The low-cost membership fees coincide with the company’s “pay as you go” theory.

Dykstra and Barnaby hope to have 10 facilities located throughout West Michigan in “bedroom communities,” which would keep money for gas and food and so forth in those communities. The other advantage, Barnaby said, is in creating a more centered lifestyle for workers.

“We think that what’s missing in people’s lives is a wholeness. It’s ‘race to work, race around to try and get everything done, and then get home exhausted with no real time for yourself.’”

The study done for WIRED (Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development) West Michigan showed the average worker could save 16 hours of commuting time and roughly $200 in annual transportation costs, and would produce about two tons less carbon dioxide by working close to home.

Barnaby expects knowledge-based workers will be responsible for renting most of The Collective’s office space. Sixty percent will be from human resource companies, with the rest being entrepreneurs and start-up companies, he said.

The Collective’s first expansion will be in Norton Shores’ Eastowne Development. That facility will serve as the model for future sites, Barnaby said. Dykstra and Barnaby plan on continuing expansion across the country, but not as a franchise. The idea, Barnaby said, is to sell the business plan and manuals and then advise.

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