Puedes leer este artículo en español aquí.
Pamela Cepeda is the founder of CoFamily Coworking in Granada. She’s a Chilean-born oceanic civil engineer whose history runs parallel to that of many pioneering coworking founders: “In 2015 I had been thinking about creating a space where I could focus for at least an hour while taking care of my daughter.” Pamela decided to launch CoFamily, a space where she could combine her daughter’s upbringing with her profession. At that time there were some spaces trying out this model, such as the Third Door in London, but in Spain there were none that did it on a regular basis.
In 2016, CoFamily opened its doors with a simple concept: “We are targeting freelancers who are in a moment of their life where, because they just became parents, they do not want to make sacrifices.”
The space is for people who want to take their son or daughter to work with the knowledge that they will be taken care of in an environment full of positive stimuli. “It’s not just about having a space to leave the children, in fact that is one of the usual failures: You can’t just leave the children unattended. Because although the co-baby is ‘just’ one more service, if it doesn’t work, the rest doesn’t matter. Parents need a service that is 100% reliable so that the proposed value of space makes sense to them.”
For this reason the space has Encarni, an educator who takes care of the little ones of CoFamily every morning while the adults work on the other side of the wall. “It works similarly to a nursery school. It has a schedule and routines and although there is no education, we follow a methodology.” Pamela is very discreet when we ask her about the challenges of working with babies a few meters from parents who, in some cases, are worried about their children: “In this sense we must take into account that parents or mothers do not enter co-baby, we only allow them in briefly during periods of adaptation.”
“The educator is essential; they must be a person who builds trust. Co-baby is designed to minimize daily dynamics as far as the interaction with coworking is concerned. There is an entry and exit schedule and we establish a normal routine. In the end, it makes children happy and happy children means happy parents.”
In this model, of course, there are several tradeoffs. One of them is the seasonal nature of the service, since coworkers usually sign up and leave with school vacations. In other cases, when children grow up, coworkers sometimes return to working from home; Pamela adds that there are also cases in which parents, once their children are in school, return to space without children.
There are some details that, although not surprising, must also be taken into account. The decision process, for example, is much slower. They don’t have direct competition, but choosing such a critical service requires time and patience. Price is another factor: it can cost double that of a co-baby-free coworking service. And uniquely: “There is no trial period: anyone who joins a family coworking [space] has to have a clear idea of what they want.”
CoFamily has also seen the profile of people who want to be part of the space expand. They have even adapted their tagline to reflect those who join in order to prepare for the public service exam.
Something surprised Pamela initially. Looking at their membership history, entrepreneur mothers have been the least common group in CoFamily’s 5 years of existence.” When you have been a mother, until your child is at least two years old, you rethink your life, your values, etc. To many women, this drives them to start a business. This path needs a lot of time, and that is usually difficult when you are raising a child. I do believe gender can be a big divider because women are traditionally those who assume the upbringing, stay at home, and even give up their professional life.”
Pamela continues: “Perhaps for some mothers being an entrepreneur or a freelance and investing in co-baby is not worth it, and prefer to “wait” until their children are older? They wait to be an entrepreneur, wait to grow their business.”
This gets to the heart of one of the problems facing many coworking spaces offering childcare: There are very few resources available to working mothers, and because of that, there are in turn fewer services that can reach out to them, since they are in effect already working multiple (unpaid) jobs and don’t have the time or money to start a new business. While many spaces are free to develop more specialized niches, childcare-focused spaces generally try to appeal to people at all stages of life and across regional and professional lines.
We were curious how Pamela sees the future of Cobaby. “I think there will be a boom of this model and, like every boom, those who find a balanced way to do it will succeed. Society is rethinking many things in terms of family, co-responsibility, remote work, quality of life and although these elements are difficult to combine, our company is taking it seriously. “ And of course when some “of the big ones [coworking companies]” adopt the model then the media attention will skyrocket.
The question nobody has asked Pamela before is whether cobaby is truly profitable. “People are left with the basic and idyllic idea, and they believe that with that idea success is guaranteed. It is difficult to be profitable and we have to open many more lines of business and open the customer profile: if you want to exclusively focus on mothers and fathers you cannot survive. To create a large cobaby you would also need much more logistics, staff, and so on.”
If you aren’t already using Cobot as your coworking management software, give it a go! You’ll find that our features can help you run your coworking space more effectively and grow your community. Just sign up for a free trial or a live demo session. And if you have questions, our support team is all ears!