Constable: Suburban chain of shared office spaces with a BYOB lounge works for so many reasons
In January 2020, when the United States was just about to record its first case of a mysterious illness called COVID-19, Bobby Kellman and co-founders Dan and Karen Kravits launched Enclave, their new shared office space and lounge in downtown Glen Ellyn.
While many entrepreneurial efforts foundered or folded during the pandemic, Enclave has thrived, adding new locations in Arlington Heights, Downers Grove and Oak Park.
"We felt people in the suburbs needed a place to work outside the home," Kellman says. "For a short while, working from home is nice. But you need a change of scenery and a separation between professional and personal life."
A consultant for tech companies, Kellman and his wife, Katie, both worked out of their home in LaGrange before the pandemic expanded that concept to nearly every office worker.
"Every one of our members joins because they need a place to work," Kellman says.
"I have four kids and a wife who works at home. Here I can focus and get things done," says Michael Timpone, a 47-year-old marketing entrepreneur who lives in Glen Ellyn and rides his bicycle to Enclave in the summer.
"Today, I'm preparing a client presentation," Timpone says as he sits on a couch and works on his laptop connected to a larger monitor. He has office space in Chicago and Oak Brook, but he says having Enclave minutes from his home is so much easier and more comfortable than commuting to an office or even working out of his home.
"I will gain more weight at home. I will not get as much done at home," Timpone says. "There are a lot of distractions in the home. I like the feel of this place."
A typical coffee shop has the noise of espresso machines and coffee grinders, as well as loud conversations. White noise, velvet couches, office desks and chairs, and private rooms for meetings in person or online make Enclave sound very much like a typical office.
"That actually adds to the energy of the space," says Jason Tuscher, 45, a senior vice president working in the institutional investment group for Prudential Financial. Before pandemic restrictions, he was flying around the country on business trips and taking the train downtown.
"Now, I'm eight blocks away," says Tuscher, whose wife, Sarah, a real estate attorney, is also an Enclave member. They are parents to daughters Marin, 14; Isla, 12; and Sadie, 10, so things can get hectic at home.
Enclave, which has memberships starting at $95 a month at enclavecoworking.com, is open from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m., and many members take advantage of the BYOB guidelines that allow them to host clients with a drink, or simply avoid the costs and crowds of the bar scene. On nights when he and his wife have dinner plans in downtown Glen Ellyn, "we come here half an hour early just to catch up," says Tuscher, who takes advantage of the locker in the temperature-controled wine cellar. "I've got a nice bottle of wine in there, some bourbon, I think, and there's actually Twizzlers in there."
Location is the key, Kellman says.
"Something happens at your kid's school, you are five minutes away. You get a package delivered, you are five minutes away. You want to take a nap, you are five minutes away," Kellman says.
Timpone, whose home with his wife, Alissa, can get busy with active kids, Adria, 13; Mia, 10; and 7-year-old twins Camille and Michael, often starts work at Enclave by 7 a.m.
"I've done two Zoom calls already," says Timpone, who changes his location in Enclave to show off some local artists' work displayed on the walls. "Everybody on my Zoom calls is like, 'Where are you? That's so cool.'"
In addition to featuring local artists, whose work is for sale, Enclave has relationships that give members discounts at local restaurants. And sometimes, as happens in traditional offices, members forge friendships.
"There's people I golf with now that I never golfed with before," says Timpone. "For the way work has changed, this fits for me. I don't know what I'd do without it."