The coffee shop and cubicle alternative

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Cove members work at the newest location on 14th Street, N.W. Photo by Ian Zelaya
cove members work at the newest location on 14th Street, N.W. Photo by Ian Zelaya

Everyone has a preferred way to work, and just about all people want a place where they can be most productive and comfortable. District resident Adam Segal had experience working from home and at the beehive of a big corporation, and wasn’t particularly productive at either.

So when Segal launched his start-up last September, he patterned it after his own work style: a relaxed setting where he could be surrounded by others. He named it “cove,” and it is part of a growing trend of urban work hubs.

At its two District locations, cove offers a trendy work environment with desks, Wi-Fi, printers, conference rooms, phone booths and, maybe most importantly, complimentary coffee. The first location opened in DuPont Circle; the second launched last month on 14th Street, N.W.

An alternative to the couch, coffee shop and cubicle, cove is part of a rising trend of urban work hubs. Last year there were more than 2,000 such spaces worldwide, up 250 percent compared to two years ago, according to the Harvard Business Review.

“Here you can be productive and you have company and community when you want it,” Segal says. “The thought process behind [cove] was really about providing great flexibility but also having the community and productive environment that can make you get things done.”

Segal, who attended the Harvard Kennedy School and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, says he wrote the business plan for cove in graduate school and had been working on it for over a year.

There are three monthly plans that provide certain amounts of desk and conference room hours at either location. Members, who call themselves “covers,” can see how busy locations are by checking their phone or computer before dropping by. They can check in and out of that location using a QR code on their phone.

Segal says that not all cove members are self-employed or working remotely. Some have day jobs and just come in to read the morning paper, stop by at night to practice a new skill set, or meet up with colleagues to work on a new project or start-up.

“There’s no consistency, and that’s what’s consistent,” Segal says. “It gives teams, who are coming from their different companies and trying to start their own thing, a place to do it and feel comfortable.”

Segal, a member of cove himself, likes the sense of community and neighborhood focus cove encourages. Both locations have happy hours and a monthly bagel day. He says he would like to see more neighborhood locations popping up around the District.

“It’s really about how we can use the space to facilitate you being able to define how you work and be productive, but then also how we bring everyone together,” he says. “The community has grown faster than I anticipated. It’s awesome to watch and be a part of.”

For more information about cove, go to cove.is.

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Follow Ian @IanDavidZelaya 

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