By Grace Swanson
Commuting to and from Seattle can be stressful — especially since the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that more than 1,000 people move to Seattle each week, increasing the number of drivers on the road.
Seattle is ranked as the fourth most congested city in the United States by TomTom, a navigation system company.
According to the report, drivers spend 40 minutes sitting in traffic on an average workday, which equates to 152 hours per year. This is in addition to the time it takes to drive to their destination.
Soon a co-works consortium will be available to commuters in Langley, Washington, which will provide access to a number of shared office spaces around town. Whidbey Island is located in the Puget Sound, 1-2 hours north of Seattle.
Three existing Langley businesses, the South Whidbey Commons, Fine Balance Imaging & Printing, and Whidbey Telecom’s BiG GiG Langley Center will form the consortium and share resources as part of a joint-membership program. More details about the membership program will be provided at a later date.
“The Whidbey Co-works Consortium is a group of nooks, spaces, business locations, and coffee shops who are dedicated to helping people live and work successfully on South Whidbey,” said Whidbey Telecom co-CEO George Henny. “We believe in providing them a comfortable and welcoming place to experience exceptional co-work services.”
Tom Trimbath, a South Whidbey Island resident, is optimistic about the consortium. As someone who works multiple jobs at one time, he is a frequent user of co-work spaces and believes they’ll be valuable to the community.
More dollars will stay local if people choose to stay and work on Whidbey Island instead of commuting to the mainland. This could be beneficial to the economy.
“If someone is working in Langley instead of working in Pioneer Square then they’re shopping in Langley,” Trimbath said.
In return, shorter commute times would benefit a commuter’s wellbeing. Making a 10-20 minute commute to Langley instead of a 1-3 hour commute off-island would free up time that is normally spent sitting in traffic.
Whidbey Telecom’s Gigabit internet, known as the BiG GiG, will be available in the South Whidbey Commons, Fine Balance Imaging & Printing, and the BiG GiG Langley Center. This internet can reach speeds of up to 10 Gigabits, which is up to 100 times faster than the current internet.
“We have the potential to have better internet access than the Seattle co-work spaces,” Trimbath said.
The co-work spaces in the South Whidbey Commons, BiG GiG Langley Center, and Fine Balance Imaging will each offer a variety of features:
The co-work space at the South Whidbey Commons, a non-profit coffee shop, bookstore, and barista training center, will be accessible 24/7 and provides workers with lockers, a bike rack, a bathroom, desks, and Gigabit internet. Working at the Commons also has the benefit of being in close proximity to coffee and food.
South Whidbey Commons co-president Cathy Rooks says being part of the co-works consortium fits with the Common’s mission of providing “a place for people of all ages to gather, learn, and grow.” The office spaces can bring working people together in Langley, providing networking opportunities.
“We are hoping the consortium will create opportunities for networking,” Rooks said. “That’s really what the Commons is about — networking and being part of a community. The coworking space is just a natural addition for us.”
Fine Balance Imaging, a print, supplies, and decor shop, will offer desks, a digital touch-screen whiteboard, a private meeting space, and a wide variety of printing services.
Joe Menth, Fine Balance Imaging & Printing owner, said that each coworking space offers unique amenities that differ from the other spaces in the consortium.
“Joining the consortium was a no-brainer,” said Menth. “It’s really a cooperative effort of incorporating spaces that happen to have amenities that the other spaces in the consortium don’t have.”
The co-works space in the BiG GiG Langley Center is divided into two office spaces and a conference room. Workers will have access to additional monitors, snacks, desks, a fridge, lockers, scanners, Gigabit internet, and a printer.
Henny believes the collaboration of the three businesses in providing work spaces to people on Whidbey Island will be beneficial to the community. Eventually co-work spaces will also be available at MAKE Whidbey Market in Clinton and the WiFire Coffee Bar in Freeland.
“Working together is a better approach because a community works best when it works together,” he said.
The co-works spaces are open today, but the BiG GiG Langley Center, Fine Balance Imaging & Printing, and the South Whidbey Commons are still finalizing the details of the consortium.