In the Suburbs: Connections, personal and entrepreneurial, important
Published 6:40 am, Monday, July 6, 2015
My good friend and colleague from Westport had a mild stroke two years ago. It left him with some mild residual problems like a weakness in one leg, but, thankfully, there was no paralysis.
We had always enjoyed getting together for breakfasts at various diners and when he was finally out of rehab and back home, he suggested that if I didn’t mind picking him up (driving was taboo for a long time) we could resume our get togethers on my convenient weekends and holidays.
He had continued living alone in a sprawling raised ranch that his parents had owned, but was on the market indefinitely. It took every bit of his energy, initially at least, to get down the steps and out to the car, but I could see how much he looked forward to just going out and connecting with friends like me and others.
Fortunately, his mind has remained sharp as a tack and he has continued to search for telemarketing work. But as he told me earlier this week, over breakfast, he looks forward to taking a break and getting connected again.
I feel very good that I’ve been able to help him with shopping, drug store errands and banking trips among other things, so our weekend breakfasts have always included an additional stop or errand. And another friend, a Westport blogger, did a piece called something like Buddy Can You Spare a Ride? The piece proved to be a bonanza and my friend had plenty of calls from interested volunteer drivers. Now he has a little network of drivers, which gives me a really good feeling because I’m not always available.
Earlier this week, our get together was a little different but certainly related to the importance of connection. My friend hopes to be working on telemarketing for a company that recently opened an entrepreneurial office facility in Westport and since the offices are close to Sherwood Diner, our favorite breakfast spot, we took a ride over.
Like the importance of my friend and I getting together regularly to have an ongoing sense of connection, these offices are designed the same way. Even though the concept of group offices for various size business owners has been around for a long time, the importance of these facilities has increased greatly since the crash of 2008. With thousands of professionals suddenly out of work and operating from their home offices, the likelihood of cabin fever triggered the need to find office space outside the home.
My friend and I spoke with the manager, since the idea of finding an occasional place, other than a diner, for meeting with my own clients, has been tempting.
What is great about these offices is their convenience and flexibility. One receptionist handles all calls. A central spot, called the Hub, is always supplied with coffee, juice and snacks. Small and large conference rooms abound and are available for one-time or occasional rentals. I liked that flexibility, as did my friend, because our needs for offices are not constant. The manager showed us a meeting space that seats about 50 people and conference and presentation rooms.
And the offices are perfectly designed for a wide range of needs. For instance, there are small offices, designed for “solo-preneurs” like my friend and me; for small businesses with up to three employees or more and for sharing with individuals who may only need a desk and a small file cabinet. Finally, there are suites for retired or part-time executives who want the feel of a larger corporate environment.
I’m actually working with another friend of mine on a pilot seminar and this space could be the perfect location — bright and cheery, plenty of parking and a place for catering.
I told the manager on our way out that this entrepreneurial office space was a great connecting spot and when he told me the space was already 60 percent occupied, I wasn’t surprised. I am definitely sold on this concept, especially since diner meetings are often too public and, on weekends, the owners of diners like to turn over tables quickly. There is no question that these entrepreneurial office facilities reinforce the overall importance of professionals being able to be with other people in related fields.
After we returned from his doctor’s appointment my friend told me that he really appreciated my taking time to see the offices. I told him I learned something also and looked forward to our next get together. There is no question in my mind that this kind of client contact is very therapeutic and productive for him.
Steven Gaynes "In the Suburbs" appears each Friday. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.