Featured Workplace Operator: Carol Digiovanni of onFlume in Chico, CA
Carol is both the co-founder and community manager of OnFlume. She spent some time with us, and we learned what brought her to own her very own space and what things have been helpful along the way.
Hi Carol. We’d love to hear the origin story of your space.
My husband and I own a block of commercial buildings in downtown Chico, California. Opening a coworking center was something we had talked about in the past and even started looking into. There were so many aspects to consider but we never found the time to do the proper research. That was until the pandemic hit in 2020. It became a silver lining for us, providing the opportunity to figure out just how we could tackle opening our own space.
During the research phase, I looked up coworking management software and came across Deskworks. Once communication was initiated with them, everything started to click! We were able to tap into the knowledge of their team members and it snowballed from there. We initially were looking into using one of our spaces that’s about 3000 sq ft., but they sort of steered us away from this smaller option. With this input in mind, we ended up choosing our current space, which is about 5000 sq.ft., and I think that’s our sweet spot.
With that decision out of the way, we then spent all of 2021 preparing the space. We booked consulting time with Barbara at Deskworks and received suggestions for floor plans and other details necessary for a good coworking environment. Gathering all the goods, such as materials, supplies, furniture, etc, proved to be a challenge during the pandemic due to the supply chain. Despite that, we were able to open our doors at the end of October 2021.
What’s your community like?
We use our tagline “Professional Coworking” to give a sense of all the different flavors of what a coworking environment offers. Our community is not a loud hustle-bustle place. It actually tends to be a very peaceful space. All of our private offices are taken at the moment, and it’s a complete variety of people. For example, we have a fellow who works for Meta who shows up early and works the day away. A group of folks has an office for their start-up – always busy on the phone. Three clinicians in Behavioral Health meet in the next office, using our center as their home base before heading into the field.
We have Dedicated Desk members as well, one of whom is a Real Estate Developer turned Politician, who is now running for City Council. We’ve got a gentleman who needed a place for his LLC and a gal that comes in for her side hustle after her day job as a teacher. Many attorneys send their clients here to do video depositions. And there are a few non-profit groups using the conference room. That’s some of our mix at the moment!
What’s unique about your space?
Chico has a small-town vibe, although it’s actually a small city. We’re one of two coworking spaces. The other space in town is a beautiful multi-level building. But what we have at ours is a much quieter atmosphere. We’re also downtown but located near the edge which provides ample free parking. It’s definitely a perk to not have to feed the meter! We have fiber wifi, and we’re a total Mom & Pop – me and my husband! The design is really nice with pleasing colors and we enjoy the big kitchen and cafe. Overall, it’s a relaxed and peaceful ambiance with a great group of people. Right now I’m talking to you from my big desktop MAC and, when we first set things up, we secured it to my desk with a heavy cable and lock. Now I’m looking at it and can’t help but chuckle. It doesn’t seem necessary anymore because everyone here is just so nice.
Has Deskworks helped you grow or improve your space? How?
I’m on the Everything Coworking Facebook Group, and people are often asking other coworking managers “What platform do you use?”. I’ve had a chance to hear from other space operators about their issues. But, with Deskworks, it’s just so flexible! And I love the customer support. When I have a question I can always reach the support team.
We use Network Check-in and Deskworks manages it for us remotely. It’s fantastic! In one instance, they were able to set up a VLAN for a title company that was using the team space in our center. They were so helpful and offered solutions that worked out beautifully. I don’t know how we would have figured that part out on our own, frankly.
What’s your favorite Deskworks feature?
That’s a great question, and there are several. One, I like that I can see it from my iPad in the morning before I’m even out of bed. I get an email at the start of each day that includes “Today’s Reservations” in the space. This is really nice because, once in a while, I find myself saying, “Oh, I almost forgot!”. I also love the dashboard. I’ve discovered that you can enlarge the Access Code of the day by clicking on the double arrow symbol in the widget. I just print it rather than having to handwrite it each day.
Deskworks isn’t hard to use. It’s intuitive, and when I can’t figure something out, there’s always a way to get an answer. I oftentimes am able to say yes to our members when they have a specific request, and that’s due to the flexibility of Deskworks and the support that comes with it! For example, someone came in asking for an office pod for two weeks but we didn’t have that increment set up. We only had them available on a monthly basis. I said, “Yes! We can do that. I’ll call you back with the cost.” Then I emailed support at Deskworks, and they helped me set it up. I love that flexibility!
What did I miss? What else should I know about your space and community?
How could I forget? We’re dog friendly. My little dog comes with me every day. Another member has a couple of French Bulldogs that are hilarious. It’s always fun to have them around!