If you don’t already know Flock, you might know its building. It’s tough to miss.

The building, located at 2611 1st Ave S., was originally built in 1929 for the Despatch Laundry Company, complete with a big, distinctive green copper dome out front. It was used for a variety of purposes over the years, most recently to sell rugs before being converted into a co-working space where people could collectively split an office space and the amenities that came along with it.

Co-working spaces started popping up in the mid 2000s. The concept was popularized when software companies took off and then boosted again after the real estate market’s collapse in the late 2000s, creating abundant, cheap office space. Like many industries, co-working contracted during the pandemic. But as the pandemic has created more remote work opportunities and fewer five-days-a-week-in-the-office jobs, Flock feels like the moment of transformation we’re living in is one its well-positioned to meet.

Flock originally opened under previous management in 2016. Brandon Wtizel, who owns Quinn Design, bought the business in 2018 and renovated the interior. Flock is LGBTQ-owned and operated, a fact that the team says has been a strong selling point for new members.

Throughout the pandemic, remote work has expanded, and more flexible arrangements have normalized. “Working from home and remote work have become closer to a more typical situation,” said Emma Steiler, Flock’s director of community engagement.

Flock offers a variety of memberships to fit individual worker needs.  Its packages start at $150 per month for 10 days of building access and go all the way up to 24/7 access. You can even rent a conference room or space for a single day.

One of Flock’s unique conference rooms

You can see the future vision of urban, white-collar work in both the physical space that Witzel created and the clientele. There’s a podcast studio, communal kitchen, and sunny patio out back. The space is only a block from Eat Street. There’s great access to transit, located right off 26th Street and Nicollet Ave. S. Flock is on a street with a dedicated bike lane, and the Midtown Greenway is only a few blocks away.

Flock’s original mission was to cater to creatives. Today, it also houses five non-profits, including Ethiopia Reads, Green Card Voices, the Twin Cities Media Alliance, Queer Space Collective, and Fair Food Network. The combination of creatives, media people, non-profits, and other workers has created a multi-disciplinary collection of workplaces.  Organizations at Flock have collaborated to help solve problems that the others have.  

Scott Wolf, director of operations at Ethiopia Reads called out the makeup of the members as a key point that he finds incredibly valuable. “The mix of people fits really great because a lot of non-profit work has a creative element, so the symbiotic relationship and creative energy that happens is really cool,” Wolf said. “You have a random conversation with someone and realize how much you have in common with someone who happens to work in marketing for a totally different industry.”

Flock has held group sessions called “Big Brain,” where members of the space gather to talk about their ideas with one another. Wolf identified these sessions as a critical benefit of his membership, as the space allows for people with creative brains working at disparate organizations to help pitch-in on ideas that the others have. This can be critical for organizations that only have a couple full-time staff members. Flock also has held fund-raisers and offered its space for mentorship meetings after-hours to their members.

Flock members chat at a “Big Brain” session

Eventually, Flock hopes to expand and open more locations. But for now, their location in Whittier might offer a glimpse of what the future of work for many people might look like.