Child care for working parents is a hard problem for everyone, so it isn’t surprising that many coworking spaces do not tackle the problem. But I’m glad to see that more and more are doing so.
This month, Sensei Cat Johnson interviewed Shazia Mustafa of Third Door coworking in the UK. Open since 2015, this is reported to be “The World’s First Coworking Space With Full Childcare” .
One reason why this is very hard is that it is really two different businesses, and you need to get both right. My general rule of thumb is to focus on being good at one thing, but that’s not an option n this case.
Mustafa reports that they designed the space from the start as “childcare with a place to work”. She comments that, “I don’t know if having a coworking space then slotting in the nursery is going to work as effectively”. I tend to agree that the childcare part is harder, and the workspace part is a lot more flexible–there are lots of ways to get the workspace right, so it is more likely that you can adapt to the childcare.
She also notes that working parents often can benefit from some psychological boost. (Moms and dads both have challenges, though not always identical or symmetric ones.) It is interesting to think of this kind of childcare+work community as an especially potent way to help both work and childrearing.
It’s hard to know if Third Door really was the first, but it certainly won’t be the last. New ones crop up every day (E.g., here, here). And locally to me, Moose International has opened an exciting new space with childcare+coworking(+food+fitness).
I would see this trend as possible a step toward a more general multi-generational, life+work spaces, and there are more of them every day. I also find some indigenous themed Canadian spaces interesting, because they include space for elders.
It seems to me that there would be advantages to having elders and kids and workers in the community. (Don’t you think having some aunties and uncles would be a real good thing?) Basically, a whole village.
Now there’s a mountain to climb.
- Catie Dixon, Working From Home Never Looked So Good, in Bisnow. 2018. https://www.bisnow.com/national/news/multifamily/a-must-have-coworking-in-apartments-isnt-quite-like-in-offices-94020
- Cat Johnson, Inside The World’s First Coworking Space With Full Childcare: A Q&A With Third Door’s Shazia Mustafa, in Allwork.Space. 2018. https://allwork.space/2018/12/inside-the-worlds-first-coworking-space-with-full-childcare-a-qa-with-third-doors-shazia-mustafa/
[For more on this, see the book “What is Coworking?“]
What is Coworking?