The owner of a new home-based startup in Guelph says she is combining two needs in the community: a coworking office space combined with supervised child minding.
A lawyer by profession, Dana Greenlaw and her husband Josh recently moved back to her hometown of Guelph after living away for 20 years. She is currently on maternity leave with a seven-month-old and a toddler and saw a need for both coworking and child minding needs in the community.
“This is my community and I am so glad to be back,” said Greenlaw. “I wanted to do something for the community and for parents.”
Coworking Parents Studio is located on the main floor of Greenlaw’s home on Edinburgh Road North near Paisley Road.
The coworking space takes up two rooms on the the main floor of the house, while the supervised child minding is done in another larger room near the back of the house. The two areas are broken up by the kitchen.
Greenlaw said the environment of being based in a house makes it comfortable for both the coworking and child minding areas.
Having the business located within the house will take some adjusting for the family of four, but Greenlaw notes many people have businesses or day cares run out of their homes.
Greenlaw has hired Mireille Martinez, a certified early childhood educator for over 20 years, to mind the children.
Because parents are expected to be on location at all times, the child minding service falls under an exception in Ontario’s Child Care and Early Years Act and does not require a license, but Greenlaw still thought it was important to hire a certified ECE.
“I wanted to be able to build a program that is good for the kids, too. I wanted to think of the parents, but I also wanted the children to enjoy coming here and having a good space,” said Greenlaw.
Martinez thinks the space will be busy once it catches on.
“It works out perfect,” said Martinez. “The coworking space in itself is an incredible idea, but with child care it’s brilliant.”
The coworking space is located in a rooms just inside the front door of the house, with a large table intended as a conference room in another adjacent room. Internet use is included and the conference room can be reserved if someone requires it for a meeting.
Greenlaw said the buffer of the kitchen between the coworking and child minding sections blocks almost all of the noise.
Doing focused work can be a challenge for people working at home while watching their kids, said Greenlaw.
“Here you come in, if you have something you can do it or three hours focused, you’re child is being taken care of — they are not interrupting you,” she said.
Users of the space pay a yearly membership fee, and then can reserve three hour blocks. The more blocks a user commits to, the less expensive it gets.
The available blocks run Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and another from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Time slots must be reserved at least 24 hours in advance to offer staff a chance to plan for the day.
A maximum of five children can be accommodated at a time in the child minding area.
Pricing starts at $50 for a three-hour block, which includes use of the coworking space and child minding, but the price lowers to as little as $35, depending on how much time is committed to.
Greenlaw hopes to attract people with diverse work experience to come and use the space.
“That’s one of the big things about coworking, is the ability to collaborate with people from different companies, different areas of business,” she said. “It’s part of the community building that is inherent in the coworking model and that I am hoping will grow here.”