How The Work Factory came to be

While The Work Factory, presented yesterday, is a model for the creative class workplace, how it was established is just as representative of its role in a progressive economy. Once again, in the words of co-founder Ted Randler:

“Last year Work Magazine (Richmond, VA’s slick biz dev mag) and C3 (profiled here) held a business conference call, “What’s the Big Idea?” We brought together corporate executives, designers, academics and media folks to spend the day in seminars and sessions dealing with creativity as a driving force in commerce.

About 150 attended the boutique conference and we campused out a lot of cafes and businesses in the area to hold the events. Throughout the course of the day I met many Small Office/Home Office owners (So/Hos) who were meeting their clients at coffee shops and cafes because their homes for whatever reason weren’t conducive to business negotiations. Their main complaint about meeting in the public venues was the noise and lack of privacy.

C3 is a fabulous space for folks to gather and commune on creativity. But it wasn’t designed for daily operations or private meetings. And their focus is more on what C3’s director, Michelle Stuchell calls free agents; those freelance photographers, consultants and designers who, while entrepreneurial, are less in need of office amenities and perhaps the structure of private meeting rooms and back-office technology. The Work Factory has been designed with more of a professional services and daily operations focus.

Meanwhile Work Magazine had to find new digs. We thought why not try to create all the best aspects of these public facilities like a Starbucks, a Kinko’s and create a meeting venue that would be a destination – a fun place to do business. We looked at several locations in the area and decided on this facility because it had an old-world clubby atmosphere. We used the idea of kitschy ’40s and ’50s ‘office/factory’ imagery to deck out the rooms and it ended up with a kind of lodge feel. We have a Zen water fountain in the wi-fi lounge and you’re greeted with a flat panel tv playing cnn news. Again mixing the media, the old and new.

Our next phase is to develop the facility as a learning center for professional development and entrepreneurship. We’ll create quarterly seminars and events that will range in subjects from how to launch a business, franchising, to writing workshops and tax seminars.”

Image: Preferred conference room and workstation access for those who want to spend a little more than the basic $299-$799/mo.