A new way to work remotely — and catch some sun — opened in the heart of downtown Wednesday.
Downtown Winnipeg BIZ launched a free-to-use outdoor office next to the Capital Grill and Bar at 275 Broadway Wednesday. Named RE: Workspace, the simple setup is already catching the interest of people still working remotely and passersby, said Pamela Hardman, director of marketing, engagement and communications for Downtown BIZ.
"We wanted to provide an outdoor option for folks who maybe want to explore different ways to work from home or practice remote working," she said. "We wanted to give them a reason to come downtown and do that again."
Walk-ins are welcome, but spots to work can be pre-booked online. The space is fitted with communal tables, free WiFi, power outlets, chalkboards and whiteboards.
On Wednesday, people stopped to check out the space throughout the day. Orange-clad downtown ambassadors were on site answering questions and sanitizing tables. Masks are encouraged and physical distancing is recommended.
Hardman said the space was designed for people who may feel unsafe returning to typical indoor workplaces.
"I think people are really craving that face-to-face time, and the RE: Workspace gives people an outdoor option, so maybe if they’re still a little bit hesitant, they can meet someone outside and there’s an extra layer of safety," she said.
Hardman said Downtown BIZ is also hoping to attract students, noting the nearby University of Winnipeg has returned to in-person classes.
The space will remain open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until the weather gets too cold to work outdoors.
Nicole Gornik, owner of dance studio Royal Dance Conservatory, was among the visitors to the space Wednesday afternoon. She spent her time prepping fall dance programming, catching up on emails and making phone calls.
"I didn’t even realize it was the first day — I saw a post on Downtown BIZ on Instagram just mentioning it, and my friend had an appointment downtown today so I’m just waiting to pick her up, so I figured I’d come check out the space as I have some work to do," she said. "It just kind of all worked out perfectly."
The experience was a good one for Gornik.
"I think it’s been great. This place has been really great to just kind of walk into and get checked in, it’s cool to have my little bubble of a workspace," she said.
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.