A new virtual platform is launching in Upstate New York to unite people in shared spaces across the region. Metro Collective will promote shared spaces, provide a virtual platform to build community, hold events to provide networking opportunities and mentor others interested in opening a shared space.
As working professionals have continued to seek employment opportunities that align with their locations, lifestyles, and values in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, today’s workforce still seeks community.
In a 2021 American Psychiatric Association survey, more than 80% of people working from home reported feelings of isolation and loneliness sometimes or all the time.
Metro Collective Co-Founder Maureen Ballatori, also Founder + CEO of 29 Design Studio, recognized this trend within her own team. “Over the years, as my agency grew, we transitioned from home offices to coworking spaces and then private office spaces. But my team wants a flexible, hybrid workplace, and I want to give that to them while still keeping them connected to our culture.”
Recognizing the need for connection, workplace culture, and the power in numbers, Ballatori began to see opportunities everywhere. “I knew we could expand this concept to help the people in shared spaces get more out of their memberships in coworking spaces, incubators, and multi-use buildings.”
Ballatori isn’t the only business owner to notice the benefits. Michael Thaney, Director of the Rochester chapter of Startup Grind, is enthusiastic about the community-building capacity of Metro Collective. “Collaborating with Metro Collective on events has helped us increase our reach and attract a new audience of founders and startup supporters. Our collaboration with Metro over the last year on a Fireside Chat Series has been highly successful, pandemic notwithstanding.
As a shared space user, Maria Kast of Core Leadership Development has also grown with Metro Collective. “As a solopreneur, I wasn’t keen on a big, expensive, corporate space but renting an office in a building that is Powered by Metro Collective has given me access to a whole community that has supported my growth and business as I’ve scaled up.”
Ballatori started Metro Collective with Craig Webster, CEO of Webster Ventures. Webster is a partner in multiple enterprises, including Webster Properties, Luxury Vacation Rentals, and The Men’s Room Barber Lounge & Spa.
Together, Ballatori and Webster own Port 100 Cowork, a community coworking space with locations in the Finger Lakes (Geneva) and downtown Rochester.
As coworking and shared space solutions evolve to fit new normals and post-pandemic workspaces, there will be, as Ballatori noted, power in numbers. “As we’ve started sharing this with beta testers, we’re already seeing a lot of excitement and demand to expand into other spaces and regions of Upstate NY. I believe in the concept of ‘better together,’ and I’m so glad I live in a place where the community believes in that too. It’s one of the big reasons I know this will be successful.”
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