Co-working concept comes to Whitefish

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  • Drew Fortner, owner of Basecamp Coworking in downtown Whitefish on Oct 31. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

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    Detail of the kitchen space at Basecamp Coworking in downtown Whitefish on Wednesday, October 31.(Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

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    Interior of Basecamp Coworking in Whitefish.

  • Drew Fortner, owner of Basecamp Coworking in downtown Whitefish on Oct 31. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

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    Detail of the kitchen space at Basecamp Coworking in downtown Whitefish on Wednesday, October 31.(Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

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    Interior of Basecamp Coworking in Whitefish.

Maintaining separation and balance between home life and work life while being around other workers in a professional environment was something Drew Fortner valued. That concept is the crux of a new business in Whitefish.

Fortner is the owner of Basecamp Coworking, which recently opened at 300 E. Second St., Unit 2. He used inspiration from the co-working places he had used before from Denver, Colorado to Prague, Czech Republic, to establish the shared working space.

The idea to open Basecamp Coworking actually came out of Fortner’s own attempt to find a local co-working setup to run his other business, an online travel agency.

“Honestly, I was waiting for someone to start one,” he said.

He wanted to work remotely, but not from home.

“We were working and still talking about work at dinner,” he said referring to his wife, who also works for the travel agency. “The lines were blurred between what’s home and what’s work. That’s kind of why I wanted to find a dedicated office space where I could be focused and get work done, but leave it behind at the end of the day.”

The co-working concept is office space shared by professionals who usually work for different employers. At Basecamp, current members have jobs in software engineering, data science, artificial intelligence analytics, writing, and sales and marketing, for example. It caters to people who work remotely, are freelancers, self-employed, independent contractors, or are visitors to the area and need to put in a full day of work. People have the flexibility in purchasing day passes, weeklong packages, or monthly memberships.

Member and software engineer Billy Mitsakos works remotely for a company in Oakland, California. He echoed Fortner’s views in what he likes about the co-working concept versus working from home.

“Getting out of the house, but more importantly getting home from work,” Mitsakos said, noting that working and living in the same building, “got really old.”

Mitsakos said he also enjoys occasional banter with other members.

The camaraderie of working among other professionals is another reason why some workers turn to co-working spaces. Although the members aren’t co-workers in the sense that the same company employs them, the co-working concept strives to create a similar sense of community, according to Fortner.

Basecamp Coworking offers private and semi-private offices in addition to desk space in an open layout.

“We have 25 desks right now,” he said, giving a tour of the space, which is located upstairs from Loula’s Cafe in the historic Masonic Temple building.

The private and semi-private offices have assigned seating for people who want dedicated space to leave equipment and supplies. The open layout has what Fortner called “hot desk seating,” where workers can sit where they want at long tables, or across from another person if their work entails collaboration. There are lockers for secure storage.

“A lot of these concepts came from seeing best practices from other co-working places — keep it open as possible, kind of create the atmosphere of collaboration so that it’s not too compartmentalized,” he said.

Walking over toward a common area, another Basecamp member walked by with a four-legged friend.

“Oh yeah, we’re dog-friendly,” he added.

A separate conference room and a private room to make phone calls are also available.

“Basically, it’s the kind of space where anyone that’s using the open seating still needs to take calls from time to time, or sensitive calls,” Fortner said.

Amenities include a kitchen with an automatic espresso machine and a coffee maker.

Memberships range in price starting at $25 for a day pass. Month-long memberships are $200 for the hot-desk seating, $325 for dedicated desks and $600 for a private office.

“What we’re really trying to build is kind of the community of re-occurring members because I think that’s ultimately what’s going to be special about the space — the members who are going to be part of it,” he said.

For more information visit basecampwhitefish.com, call 558-2567, or email info@whitefishbasecamp.com.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

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