As the concept of coworking continues to float closer to the mainstream, and coworking spaces are quickly beginning to dot the Worcester business landscape, along comes a new entry in the city that wants to bring a little more work and little less “co-” to the situation.
Clearly Coworking on Grove Street offers a wide range of office space — including offices, open desk areas, conference rooms and training areas — but in a standalone building, with private work areas and a focus on established professionals with varying needs.
“There’s a tremendous amount of small businesses in Worcester and surrounding towns that work out of their home or on the road and they really don’t have a professional space to conduct their business,” Robert DelMastro, a Clark University graduate and owner/founder of Clearly Coworking, said.
“My office offers them an alternative to make them look professional and have a comfortable and affordable place to work.”
By definition, a coworking space is a shared working environment utilized by separate organizations and individuals. DelMastro hopes to make his coworking space a community of small businesses.
“It’s the professional community that separates us,” said DelMastro of city competitors like Running Start on Prescott Street. “We offer private space that people can call their own. Small businesses utilize the space as if it was their own office. The only time they would run into someone from another business is when they’re in the common areas, like the kitchen to get a cup of coffee.
“The environment here is a very comfortable and pleasant environment for people. It’s an alternative to working from home because home has all of the distractions that drive you away from being very productive and successful,” DelMastro said.
Clearly Coworking provides the parking, kitchen, office furniture, mailing address, printer, fax machine, Wi-Fi and utilities for customers renting office space.
Gene Amato, owner of Capital Biz Solutions, which, like Clearly Coworking, was founded in September 2015, has been renting space at Clearly Coworking for nearly six months now. Amato met DelMastro at a Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce event.
“It’s a terrific space. It’s clean, quiet, there’s plenty of light here, and it’s comfortable. There’s a lot of thought that went into this and you can notice it the more frequently you visit here,” Amato said.
“I’d encourage anyone to try it out. He [DelMastro] is very flexible in how he’s marketing it from a price standpoint,” Amato said.
Clearly Coworking has several different rate structures, from $5 to $25 per hour; $25 to $90 per day, and monthly membership rates ranging from $520 to $900 per month.
DelMastro has 40 active business customers, he said, but only 15 percent to 20 percent of the space being utilized. Most customers, he said, only use an office space once a week or once every couple of weeks.
“Worcester isn’t all that knowledgeable yet on what coworking is. If I put an ad out on Facebook for coworking, most people glaze over it because they don’t know what it is,” DelMastro said.
According to DelMastro, the one reason he gets the most often when people rent office space from him is because there’s no place in Worcester to host meetings.
“A lot of my foot traffic is for my four conference rooms. They’ve gotten tremendous reception from the local business community. It’s a nice professional place to actually hold a meeting,” DelMastro said.
Greg Aldrich, a business adviser for AdviCoach, a provider of small-business coaching, said he uses Clearly Coworking as an alternative to meeting at a restaurant or coffee shop.
“I’ve had the opportunity to use the space at Clearly Coworking for presentations to small groups as large as eight. The space is delightful for that purpose,” Aldrich said in an email.
Cleary Coworking will soon be home to two new Worcester businesses, DelMastro said. Due to both businesses not being incorporated yet, they chose not to have their name in print.
“Their space is their own space. They have a lock and key. They do share the common area with everyone. When you step out of your office here to grab a coffee or something, you do get to meet other people, and that makes it an enjoyable place to work,” DelMastro said.
DelMastro is currently the only full-time employee of his six-month-old business, but he does have two part-time assistants who work the lobby’s front desk.
Four years ago, DelMastro started Clearly Works, Inc., a business technology consulting company based in his home in Holden, and found himself in a predicament: He didn’t have enough space in his home to meet face-to-face with his clients.
DelMastro, who is originally from West Hartford, Connecticut, lives with his wife, Anne, of Worcester, and his sons Andrew, a college student, and Peter, a high school student in Worcester. He admits that due to the nature of his business and the importance of consulting in person, he was hurting his own business by working from home.
When he found out about coworking spaces after hearing a presentation in Boston, DelMastro searched for a coworking environment near Holden. However, he couldn’t find a space that met his professional requirements. That experience sparked DelMastro to start his own coworking business.
“I didn’t find any place where I could bring a client and feel comfortable with the professionalism of the environment. I also couldn’t see myself working each day in any of these other places. So, like any entrepreneur, I decided to solve my dilemma by starting my own coworking space,” DelMastro writes on Clearly Coworking’s bio page.
Located at 474 Grove St. in the former Caswell-King Funeral Home, which merged with another local funeral home two years ago, Clearly Coworking is open 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. There are a number of nearby amenities — coffee shops, gyms, eateries — attractive to professionals.
“This place is ideal. It’s so centrally located that you can get anywhere from here and the highway is right up the street,” Amato said.
Amato, who uses both a private office and open space, said, “[DelMastro] is very friendly. He’s a great marketer of his product. I hope to see that this place really starts to take off. [DelMastro] has had a lot of foot traffic very recently, which is great.”
According to DelMastro, his plan for the future is to have multiple Clearly Coworking locations around New England. “I envision being in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, etc., and being able to pinpoint the communities where there are a significant concentration of small businesses,” he said.
This article was originally published in the March 6, 2016 edition of the Sun.
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