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Creating a Unique Coworking Space

By: Modular Robotics

At 6-foot-7, Facilities Manager Mitch Kremm is used to being asked to change the light bulbs. He’s also had to tackle a slightly unusual challenge — turning a former post office into a coworking space for three Boulder robotics companies.

Modular Robotics moved into the empty postal facility in 2015, initially using it as an assembly plant. But as the demand for Cubelets grew, the space became a full-time office and shipping warehouse.

“Our space was full of workbenches and equipment from the early days of manufacturing at Modular Robotics, so it started as a project to inventory those items and organize them all to open up some breathing room for our operations team. As we sold off the equipment to some up-and-coming tech companies in the Boulder area, the idea of bringing in some tenants started to float around,” said Kremm. “What if our office turned into a cool tech hub where multiple companies share work space and network?”

Of course, it’s simple to have an idea, but the execution, well, that’s another matter.

He continued, “Organizing our mounds of equipment wasn’t easy. It took plenty of elbow grease.”

Robotic Materials, a start-up that manufactures cutting edge robotic hands, set up shop in October of 2017 and has continued to grow. This April, the Boulder satellite office of Plus One Robotics came on board, which had a few unexpected hiccups, said Kremm.

“I didn’t anticipate how popular our public areas would be for impromptu meetings and conferences. Our building is an old post office that has many little couch nooks…and there are plans to build a smaller meeting area soon. We’ve also had to step-up ordering of coffee and snacks for our kitchen. Every good worker needs plenty of coffee and candy!”

The building only has one formal conference room, which led to a few accidental meeting overlaps. Fortunately, Kremm was able to figure out a few technological solutions to ease the way. “The Joan scheduling screen has been a good addition for organizing meetings in our conference room. Finding a shared online calendar tool for companies running on separate platforms is difficult, so we decided to keep it simple and add the touchscreen for checking availability and reserving time slots.”

Of course, not all introductions go so smoothly.

“We often have one or two office dogs in the building, and a new employee with one of our tenants brought his dog in a few weeks ago. It wasn’t the warmest welcome by our two pooches, but the dogs have since divided the office into territories in a much more efficient way than we ever could.”

So, what advice does he have for others managing a co-working space?

“Getting every employee quickly on board with building rules and making sure they’re comfortable using all the office has to offer is very important. I would also recommend having a meet-and-greet in the office or a happy hour get-together for introductions. We also have a name board up with Polaroids of every employee. It’s nice to recognize everyone that you share an office with.”

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