OfficeXpats: Where Entrepreneurs go to Share Space in a Collegial Environment

Dave Kragen may be the quintessential co-working space participant. An author of Sci-Fi novels and memoirs, the somewhat shy and introverted writer discovered OfficeXpats in 2012 and has never looked back.

Not only is he a long-time member of the co-working facility, he’s also an Ambassador, working the front desk, assisting other members, and generally helping to keep the place running smoothly.

What’s more, he’s the point person for Bainbridge Business Connection (BBC), a group of single office, home office island and off-island small business people who have been meeting weekly at OfficeXpats for years. (They are now doing so via Zoom teleconferencing due to the Covid-19 Pandemic).

“I was sort of wallowing away in my home office, working on my books, when I heard about OfficeXpats,” says Kragen. “For me (co-working) has been about helpful and serendipitous networking with (other) members and visitors, making new co-working friends, and sharing business ideas, as well as attending a variety of events.”

OfficeXpats (, located on the second floor of The Pavilion shopping center in Downtown Winslow, is one of at least four co-working and conference centers operating on the Kitsap Peninsula, and is the oldest of the bunch.

Each of these centers offers similar amenities: 24/7 access, high-speed Internet, dedicated desks, conference services, event spaces, and professional development workshops and events.

Typically, the clientele ranges from serious entrepreneurs like Kragen to employees of companies working remotely to independent business people, as well as representatives of fledgling non-profits looking to grow and expand their networks.

“A lot of people want to be part of something,” says Jason Omen, co-founder with his wife, Leslie Schneider, of OfficeXpats. “I love hearing about members doing work for each other and seeing the happy accidents (with other members) that help their businesses.”

Omen and Schneider, who each work separate part-time IT and software consulting gigs from their desks at OfficeXpats, started their co-working place in 2011 with a desire to help entrepreneurs and small business people like themselves launch their businesses and have a collegial atmosphere in which to do so.

“It’s a physical place to share resources,” says Schneider, who splits her time from the office, working as a Bainbridge Island City Council person. “By sharing space (and talking with each other), you get these accidental relationships that form.”

Kragen agrees. “Since getting involved with OfficeXpats, I’ve learned that co-working is much more than just a convenient in-town office space away from home… I have found that by the end of each month I’ve made enough new contacts or gotten enough new work that my monthly dues pay for itself. And, I’ve also realized that I work more efficiently, am less distracted, and am more disciplined and focused on those days that I work at OfficeXpats then when I work out of my home.”

OfficeXpats has about 80-plus members, who are charged by the hour to rent a desk in membership packages that range from $45 a month for 10 hours at the facility, up to $395 a month for a “resident” with a reserved desk.

Members can also reserve several small meeting rooms and a larger event conference room, and have 24-hour, seven-day access to the space using a combination on a keypad that lets them in whenever they want. A non-member can “drop in” for $35 a day, and the fee includes one-hour access to conference rooms.

“We’re one of the few, if any, (co-working sites) that offers hourly rates,” Schneider says. “That’s rare in our business.”

“It’s all automated,” adds Omen. “It’s a good deal for members.” Typically, a member logs into OfficeXpats’ network and his or her hours of usage are calculated automatically, so there’s no fuss or muss over monthly billing.

Unlike some businesses, OfficeXpats managed to survive the dark days of the Pandemic when it decided to reopen its doors during the summer of 2020. Schneider and Omen made their space safe by steadfastly adhering to health agency recommendations: constantly decontaminating the place, installing air purifiers, and HEPA filters in the HVAC system, doing routine temperature checks of members and visitors, installing touch-less water faucets in the kitchen, sanitizing surfaces and requiring mask-wearing at all times.

“When COVID hit, OfficeXpats became my safe haven for going outside during the plague,” Kragen recalls. “Other than necessary trips to the supermarket, drugstore, etc., OfficeXpats was a sanctuary for me.”

The momentum has carried forward. Omen says the company has witnessed a 10 to 12 percent bump in business during the current summer months, owing much of that growth to a handful of new members, plus “a whole bunch of folks” visiting family or friends that signed up for a month or so.

Thanks to some concessions made by landlord John Eisenhauer, OfficeXpats has recently added almost 50 percent more space to its current 2,000 square foot layout. It hopes to use the additional space for enclosed and semi-private offices as well as for additional cubicles.

Omen is also mulling plans to possibly enclose part of an outside deck and some vacated locker rooms from a former gym at The Pavilion to add even more space. “People are asking for it,” he says.

Indeed, the on-going Pandemic and the emerging Delta Variant are causing workers and companies to be more cautious about returning to high rise buildings and big offices and that’s an advantage for co-working spaces like OfficeXpats.

“We learned a lot coming out of Covid,” says Schneider. “Co-working is going to be more important than ever. “It’s a much better known (and understood) concept now. People love to remote work, but not everyone wants to work from home.”

Last month, OfficeXpats celebrated International Co-Working Day with a picnic on their outside deck. On September 23rd, they hope to celebrate their 10th anniversary as part of the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce’s first planned in-person After Hours event.

“From our original vision, the community we’ve built is amazing,” says Schneider, with a smile across her face. “When we celebrated our anniversary last year online, we had (former members) show up from Japan. It’s a family here… You have this shared office here anytime you want. There’s something (about that, that) people appreciate once they get it.”







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