The Commons: A Workspace for the Community of the Curious

Erynn Lyster and her brother Zach are helping re-invent the way people work in Calgary – it’s called ‘co-working’. The concept of co-working seeks to provide a relaxed, productive and collaborative workspace with the entrepreneur and freelancer in mind. Working as your own boss can be an extremely rewarding experience but it doesn’t come without its share of challenges. Unconventional hours, lack of workspace and lack of colleagues are all things that can be an issue when setting out to work independently.

The Commons is the workspace that Erynn and Zach run out of the Ramsey Design Centre for the work crowd that Erynn refers to as the “community of the curious.” It’s a space to use for not only working, but also networking and socializing. This trend has already taken off in Europe and the US and is quickly gaining traction in Canada.

As Erynn explains, “In Canada, we not only have a growing number of people choosing to work for themselves, but larger, traditional companies are also embracing a new way to do work that includes having remote staff who appreciate still having an office environment in which to work. It just makes sense for so many different types of people. People often see Calgary as “just” an oil and gas town, but it is one of the fastest-growing markets for entrepreneurs, specifically in the creative fields. We are proud of our legacy of being one of the first to bring co-working to Calgary and are excited to be a part of developing and evolving the idea into the future.” 

When developing The Commons, Zach and Erynn explored several different options of how to best use the space. The original concept was to cater specifically to designers and photographers who would share very similar needs, but after careful deliberation the pair decided the space would be better utilized by accommodating a diverse group of people. The intention behind this choice was to help expose members to new ideas, knowledge and business opportunities. 

Despite the incredible diversity at The Commons, members collectively enjoy the eclectic space and the sense of community. The Commons current roster of members ranges from graphic designers to software developers to architects to caterers, copywriters, app developers, marketers (social and traditional), sales people and real estate developers. Members have also included accountants, personal coaches, film directors, PhD students and oil and gas consultants. 

If this sounds like something you’re interested in, you’re in luck. The Commons space is expanding and will have more space to offer to members next month. The new space will be specifically designed to function as a stylish office space during the day (think unique desks, comfy couches, private booths) and be converted to a hip event space during the evenings and weekends. The existing space is for both full and part-time members who have access 24/7. The new space will be for part-time members who work a more traditional schedule of 8-5 Monday to Friday, and then in the evenings and weekends that space opens up for anything from corporate cocktail parties to company and product launches, art shows, seminars, birthday and soirees – there is even a wedding booked for this summer.

So how did sibling duo open The Commons? Zach attended both Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary where he took kinesiology with the intention of pursuing a career in sport psychology. However, along the way, he ended up starting his own renovation and development company, which led to him pursuing a real estate license and a career in mortgage investment. 

Erynn also attended the University of Calgary and completed her degree at Simon Fraser University. During her last two semesters in school, she discovered her passion for art and design, which led her to complete a degree in humanities with a minor in publishing. After graduating from SFU, Erynn spent several years working in Jamaica with a non-profit women’s organization. During her tenure, Erynn completed her web design certificate. When she finally returned home, she opened up her own design company called Urban Motif Design. 

Returning from Jamaica a decade later, Erynn found that working for herself was somewhat isolating. When Erynn found out about a co-working space in the Ramsey Design Centre (Cowork YYC), she jumped on it. It was only a matter of time before she went from renting a desk to managing the space and then eventually taking ownership with Zach. 

If you are currently looking for office space that is lively, productive and engaging, then you should seriously consider checking out The Commons. For more information on the services and membership options available, click here.

#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)

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