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Communes for the computer age

Today, thanks to the internet and a laptop, it’s possible to work just about anywhere—and the traditional workplace is undergoing a revolution. Coworking—where individual workers share equipment, ideas and space—is seeing explosive growth around the world and here in Maine.

According to Small Business Labs, which follows trends impacting small businesses, the number of coworking members worldwide will increase from about 976,000 in 2016 to just over 3.8 million in 2020. The number of global coworking spaces is expected to grow from 11,000 to just over 26,000 by 2020.

Peloton Labs in Portland’s West End “provides the comforts of home without all the distractions of home,” says Liz Trice, Peloton’s co-founder and CEO. “Our space is set up to encourage connection. People have the freedom to work on their own projects, but with an abundance of resources and support at their fingertips.”

Founded in 2011, Peloton refers to the French term for a pack of cyclists from different teams working together to move faster than they could alone. “Workers thrive in an environment where they can reach out, collaborate and feel safe taking risks,” Trice says.

Peloton Labs has designated zones for quiet and privacy along with plenty of opportunities for interaction on the bustling first floor overlooking Congress Street. Members can take advantage of tech support, skill sharing, volunteer opportunities and workshops on a variety of subjects, from social media to financial literacy. Space is available for cooking, grabbing a nap or meditation. Rates range from a monthly $30 community membership, which includes two hours of conference room time and one day a month space access, to a $600+-a-month private office with 24/7 space access. There are a range of memberships in between to suit different needs.

Who is jumping on the coworking bandwagon in Maine? According to Trice, Peloton’s 100 or so members are evenly divided between entrepreneurs/freelancers and remote workers. They range in age from 20-something to 60-plus, although the majority are in their 30s and 40s. Peloton members represent a wide range of industries: finance, healthcare, education, nonprofits and green industries, along with writers, editors, graphic designers and technology experts.

“In Finnish, the word ‘peloton’ means fearless,” Trice says. “It takes courage to step out of the traditional workplace, and at Peloton Labs, we help individuals overcome those challenges.”

Interested in exploring coworking spaces?
There’s probably one near you.

Augusta
Ballard Business Center
6 E. Chestnut St.
www.ballardcenter.com

Bangor
CoVort
49 Main St.
www.covort.org

Bethel
The Gem Theater & Coworking Space
23 Cross St.
www.thegemtheater.com

Biddeford
ThinkTank Biddeford
40 Main St.
www.thinktankbiddeford.com

Brunswick
TechPlace
74 Orion St.
www.techplacemaine.us

Damariscotta
Buzz Maine
133 Main St.
www.buzzmaine.com

Ellsworth
Union River Center for Innovation
415 Water St.
www.unionriverinnovation.com

Gardiner
CoLab
149 Water St.
www.gardinermainstreet.org

Portland
Cloudport
63 Federal St.
www.cloudportme.com

Engine Room
41 York St.
portlandengineroom.com

Peloton Labs
795 Congress St.
www.pelotonlabsportland.com

Think Tank Coworking
533 Congress St.
www.thinktankcoworking.com

Westbrook
LocalHost Coworking
90 Bridge St., Suite 312
localhostcoworking.org

Yarmouth
ThinkTank Yarmouth
40 Lafayette St.
www.thinktankcoworking.com

Lori Douglas Clark is a journalist, poet and community volunteer who lives with her family in Readfield.

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