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Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Cooperative workspace energizes both brain and body

Posted on 08 October 2018 by Calvin

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
There’s nothing unusual outside the tidy, brick building at 635 Fairview Ave. N.—but inside, dozens of people are working in a way that is anything but ordinary.

Businesswoman Anne Hendrickson bought that building in 2017, replaced the roof, added an elevator, four bathrooms, two showers, and a full kitchen, to make her vision of a healthy workplace a reality.

The business she started last year, Work it, is a coworking space where members pay a monthly fee to use the space at any time, day or night. “What makes ours different from other coworking spaces,” Hendrickson explained, “is that members can integrate fitness into their workday. Every single piece of office furniture here, every single thing we do, is designed for slow, steady movement.”

Photo right: Anne Hendrickson, founder and owner of Work it, stood at her desk while balancing on a bosu. Her business motto is, “Work your body, boost your brain.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

There are 50 desks in the common spaces, private offices, and conference rooms at Work it. At the touch of a button, the desks can be lowered to sit at, or raised to stand at. The two-story, wheelchair-accessible facility uses specialized equipment from Lifespan Fitness and iSpace Environments, which allows the integration of fitness into otherwise sedentary work days.

Members can choose to use one of several types of wobble stools while seated, which require abdominal muscle engagement and quadriceps strength to hold steady. Hendrickson said, “These are the best office chairs ever. A person at work doesn’t have to move while seated if they don’t want to, but the option is there if they do.”

For a fitness challenge while standing, members can work on their computers while using a balance board, bosu (see photo), or treadmill.

Hendrickson is no stranger to entrepreneurship. She founded and ran Downtown Dogs (a daycare and boarding facility) in Minneapolis for ten years. In 2014, she was approached by a customer who wanted to buy her business and made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. Two years into a period of independent consulting, she found herself with no time to exercise. Worse still, because she didn’t have an office, she was always meeting clients at coffee shops and restaurants—eating food she didn’t want to eat and steadily losing touch with her body. Hendrickson realized she had traded her career for her health, and she thought, “I want to change that.”

The idea for Work it took shape over time. Hendrickson knew she had to buy a building rather than lease because the profit margin for a coworking space is just too slim. She had only two essential items on her short list of requirements for a building: natural light and free parking for members. It took her almost two years to find the building she eventually bought, which is just a short walk from the LRT and has easy access for cars and bikers too.

Memberships are available at different levels. A general membership costs $240/month. A small firm membership for up to eight people costs $400-$800/month. A private office costs $700/month. All levels of membership are on a month to month basis. Conference rooms can be rented by the general public for $40/hour. For a complete description of membership levels and amenities, visit https://co-workit.com.

Hendrickson added, “We have a very diverse group of members here. Wellstone Action is using our space for their employees for a year, while they relocate their offices. We have other non-profit members, a lot of tech people, writers, bloggers, and photographers. Dogs are welcome to come to work too. The bottom line is: you have to be able to get your work done, and not disturb anyone else in the process.”

Corporate clients seem especially drawn to the lower level, where workgroups often come for brainstorming sessions. Bike machines, free weights, open areas for stretching, moveable dry erase boards, revolving tables, and comfortable, supportive seating all lend themselves to better physical and mental health in the workplace. Hendrickson summed it up this way, “Every detail here is designed to maximize cognitive function.”

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