Tuesday, January 22, 2019
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A Day at NABI Commons Chelsey Tattrie
daniellemohr_nabicommons_coworkingI’ve been meaning to spend a day at Commons since I attended the Grand Opening Ceremony back in June. As a freelance writer – recently turned business owner – Commons is an enticing solution to problems I’ve been having all year. Focusing, getting help with questions, finding a comfortable work space with the tools I need (and without the high price tag): I was seeking all of these qualities for my business operations. Commons certainly delivered. 

I went on a Friday, and Commons was looking very quiet, but that made the atmosphere comfortable and casual. Right away, Alyssa Tintinaglia, NABI’s Manager of Operations, introduced me to Ken Douglas. Ken is the Western Canadian Leader of R&D and Government Incentives at Grant Thornton. He is also one of several business coaches who volunteers weekly at Commons. Each week, he helps entrepreneurs at Commons with their questions about research and development grants, and other government incentives they might qualify for. He was interested in whether I had any experience with technical writing (I do), and we exchanged some information and conversation. As it turns out, he grew up very near to where I did. Small world! 

Later in the afternoon, Kara Huaca of AWE (Alberta Women Entrepreneurs) was on hand to answer questions and provide some insight into AWE programs and initiatives (read more about AWE in this blog post). I was astounded by the ready availability of the mentors. When you’re just starting out in business, having professionals right there to answer questions as you encounter them is indescribably valuable. Best of all, there’s a great variety in their fields, so you can get help with different aspects of your business, all in one place. 

You can find the full Commons coaching schedule here.

Of course, even without the added benefits of coaching, the Commons space itself was a major problem-solver for my home-based business. The ambience is just right for a work environment; open and sunny, with lots of space and everything you need, all in one place. The stand-up/sit-down desks are great for restless people (are there any entrepreneurs who aren’t?) Plus, the chairs themselves are very comfortable; I sat for three hours and didn’t feel cramped once I got up. 

Commons is also equipped with a kitchen for any lunches and snacks you might want to bring, a separate phone room for those important calls, a boardroom you can book in case you need to meet with clients, whiteboards for scribbles, desktop plugins for your laptop, and a great Wi-Fi connection. 

But there was one thing that stood out to me more than anything else at Commons. The open and welcoming environment when I walked in was an absolute relief. I’ll admit, I had some serious reservations about sharing a working space with other people. I’m an extreme introvert, recluse, hermit- whatever you want to call me. However, I’ve also discovered I just can’t work from home every day. There are infinite distractions, it becomes lonely and tiresome, and sometimes it’s just impossible to “get in the zone.” 

As someone who frequents a variety of coffee shops, libraries, and other venues in an attempt to focus and get down to business, I know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to sharing space with other people. There are a few gems out there where the atmosphere is comfortable and conducive to working, but of course, even ideal spaces like that are unpredictable at best. You never know when a big group is going to come in to your quiet cafe for a noisy get-together, or when they’ll be hosting a children’s event at the library. Sharing space with people is complicated because people aren’t necessarily doing what you’re doing. 

That’s what’s so great about NABI Commons. Everyone in the room is there to work, but there’s a young and energetic vibe to it all. You can take time for a few breaks for conversation, coaching, or snacks, but you aren’t constantly warring with noise from other people when you really need to buckle down and focus. 

I came prepped with earphones just in case, because I like to listen to music while I work, but Alyssa had some background music playing on one of the big screens in the room. She checked in with me multiple times to make sure I was comfortable with the background noise, and we changed the playlist up a few times throughout the day. It was stress-free and laid back, and, the ultimate measure of success: I got more work done than I had all week! 

So, what’s my final review? 

Give it a try! If you’re an entrepreneur or small/new business owner, and you’re frustrated with working from home (and I know you are!) I would highly recommend Commons. Even if you aren’t interested in the extremely well-priced monthly package, using it as a drop-in space occasionally will at least give you a new setting on those days your home office just won’t cut it. 

I also recommend phoning ahead to find out what the business coaching schedule looks like. Finding out who will be there and when means you’ll have your most pressing questions answered by a professional in the field. It’s limitless advice from experts, and you’d be crazy not to take it!

If you have any questions about Commons, or you want to learn more, contact NABI at 780-460-1000.

Written by Danielle Mohr
Fine Point Writing & Editing 

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