Betsey Elbogen brews the first pot of Carrboro Coffee at the beginning of each workday at Perch Studios. After that, it’s up to one of the coworking members at the communal office to stay caffeinated. Not that any of the freelancers and entrepreneurs, telecommuters and tech designers or lawyers and folks writing their dissertations mind. Whether they’ve been a member since Perch originally opened next to Akai Hana in 2013 or have joined since Betsey took over in 2014, something keeps them coming back.
Maybe it’s the new location Perch moved to last summer. Occupying the back of the building that also houses Glasshalfull, Steel String and Fifth Season, Perch nearly tripled in size and now offers plenty of parking, office suites and a conference room. As Betsey says, the search wasn’t easy. “Nobody wants it to look like office space,” Betsey says of her requirements for the relocation. “It’s got to be cozy and industrial.” The space is more chic loft than cubicle farm thanks to the exposed brick, high ceilings, all the light streaming in and a colossal fire door separating the quiet room from the talking room.
Some members of Perch joined to have variety in their working-from-home routine while others count Perch as their everyday workspace. A member since January 2014, Lindsey Alexander says she appreciates that Perch creates a boundary between her work and downtime. “I never liked the isolation of self-employment, and Perch is a great place to share space and conversation with people in a pretty wide range of fields,” she says.
It could be all the fun parts of office culture that attracts people. Members meet up over beers during a weekly happy hour at Steel String, and their art-filled office doubles as a stop on the Second Friday ArtWalk. There are brown-bag lunch gatherings and the occasional yoga class. But really, even 9 to 5 at Perch is enjoyable. Though the members work independently, Betsey says there’s an atmosphere of encouragement. “Great things happen when all the different people connect and collaborate. You want a little community, and that’s what we have here.” CHM