Address: 351 Paseo Nuevo, 2nd Floor
Many of us spend more waking hours at work each week than at home. Be it the front of a classroom, the back of a restaurant, inside a shop, or out in the field, the atmosphere of our workplace shapes our days and is a major component of our lives.
These days, fewer people have traditional nine-to-five jobs in stereotypical offices. Entrepreneurs, creatives, and start-ups have reinvented the concepts of work and workspace. If you count yourself part of this gig economy but plugging in at a coffee shop or working from home doesn’t quite cut it, there’s a new co-working option in downtown Santa Barbara. After more than a year of expansion and remodeling, Workzones is celebrating its grand reopening this week.
I’ve been to Workzones a number of times in the past for events and meetings, so when I went last week to check it out, I didn’t think I’d be all that impressed. Let’s just say I had a slight case of “been there, done that.” But boy, was I wrong.
Located upstairs in Paseo Nuevo, right across from the movie theater, the second-floor space is high tech, classy, and welcoming. It’s also ginormous. At almost 15,000 square feet, it has a vastly enlarged footprint and contains a multitude of types of space.
There are private desks and offices, various-sized conference and meeting rooms, team tables, boardrooms, “phone booths” for private conversations, and open co-working spaces. There’s communal space with large shared tables, work bars, and lounge seating. All of this is located in a bright, high-ceilinged space with plenty of windows to let the sunshine in.
The afternoon that I was there was quiet yet still felt lively, bustling with an undercurrent of positive energy. A few people were working individually in the big open room, their fingers flying over the keyboards of their laptops.
Fast Wi-Fi and a plethora of outlets means that anyone can show up, plug in, and get to work. Everyone in the community can access Workzones, as space is available by the hour, day, or week, all on a drop-in basis. Workzones memberships are also available and include additional perks and discounts. There are scheduled events and special offerings, plus I’m told that the kitchen has a bottomless supply of Peet’s coffee.
I peeked into offices as I walked down the hallways, noting whiteboards filled with ideas and multiple monitors gracing individual workstations. Some of the spaces looked much more settled, evidence that some members use Workzones’ space on a longer, more enduring basis.
With conference room names such as Presidio, Rincon, and Sands Beach, the local vibe is strong at Workzones. Founded six years ago in Santa Barbara by Kirk Peacock, Pam Tanase, Lisa Riolo, and Mike Franco, the company plans to expand nationwide by offering franchise territories now that they’ve completed the expansion of their Santa Barbara space.
Tanase explained that their goal in starting Workzones was to provide “flexible office space solutions in a creative setting to help fuel great ideas and business growth.” When asked what makes Workzones different from other co-working options, she noted the professional atmosphere, the sense of community, and the location in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara.
Of course there are stand-up desks at Workzones, along with smart boards and other state-of-the art amenities. I’m told that there are also a wellness room and a video production service. Members can access the space 24/7 and choose options such as private lockers and mail services. There’s also a concierge on duty at the front desk, answering phone calls and escorting guests into the depths of the space. With all of the high-tech touches, it’s still nice to be greeted by a real, live, friendly person.
One of the selling points of Workzones is the distraction-free environment. I couldn’t help thinking, however, that it’s perfect to be surrounded by the shops, restaurants, and nightlife of Paseo Nuevo and State Street for times when one does need a bite or some entertainment. After all, what’s work if not the time we spend in between distractions?
Workzones’ grand reopening celebration is Thursday, September 26, 5-7 p.m. RSVP is requested at (805) 966-3722 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more, visit workzones.com.