The Cowork Space run by Silicon Couloir is growing to meet increased demand for remote and hybrid workers in Jackson Hole. The entrepreneurship nonprofit said their membership increased by 30% in 2021, and manager of the Cowork Space Michael Adams said there’s a good reason why: Employees tend to be on average 20% more productive in designated work areas compared to when they stay at home.
“If you’re already here, you’ve been here for a while and maybe, out of COVID, you’ve decided that you cannot stand working from your home anymore,” Adams said. “We’re here to receive you and give you the infrastructure and support that you need to get your job done.”
A standard membership at the Cowork Space costs $225 a month, and a private desk space in downtown Jackson comes with internet access, phone booths and networking opportunities. Spots are also available for those looking for just a place to work for a day—maybe those on a ski vacation—but most payments are taken by the month.
The Cowork Space’s business model isn’t unlike those of private companies, but Silicon Couloir Executive Director Gary Trauner said there’s potential for nonprofits like his to be more sustainable in the remote workspace because they’re not just trying to be landlords–an issue he said helped contribute to the highly publicized crash of WeWork.
“On a long-term basis, it can be a really difficult model. We’re not in it for that sort of long-term, big-time profit. We do want the space to pay for itself because I think, you know, we need to be viable. But we’re not looking to necessarily make money in this space,” he said.
Instead, Trauner said the goal of Silicon Couloir is to foster a local culture of entrepreneurship, and to provide the tools for folks in town who want to start a business but don’t have the space, know-how or educational support.
“It’s community aligned,” Trauner said. “It’s really important to us that we do that.”
Adams said he’s only seen desk prices at the Cowork Space rise once in three years and that he doesn’t expect major increases in order to maintain the current customer base. He also said that if other private companies were to move in and start competing with Silicon Couloir, it would be a “win-win” situation.
“It doesn’t help us to be the only or the primary dog in the yard,” he said.
Adams also said he understands the negative reputation that sometimes sticks to full-time remote employees as Jackson’s housing crunch intensifies, but he argues that the Cowork Space is simply responding to nationwide trends.
“I think the community would be better off if instead of looking at incoming people as part of the problem, make themselves more viable and be the salesperson that gets hired for that job,” Adams said.
The manager also pointed to people using the Cowork Space as a jumping-off point to start their own business as a reason to keep models like his alive. 60% of the space’s 329 users in 2021 were sustaining monthly or desk members, and several local nonprofits have partnered with Silicon Couloir to utilize the hybrid office’s services.
For Trauner, creating a sustainable remote work environment contributes to his organization’s overall mission.
“If we do want to maintain that thriving middle class, what steps are we willing to take in order to ameliorate the changes [in] the free market?” Trauner said.
Meanwhile, the Cowork Space recently expanded within its building at 140 East Broadway, and Trauner said he’s always on the lookout for more real estate where Silicon Couloir could build new locations, including in both Teton and Star valleys.