When work-at-home mom Alyssa Turner Cairns couldn't find a space in her community where she could work outside of the walls of own her home, she created one! We caught up with her to discuss how this space provides both community, collaboration, and inspiration to remote workers and professionals (who also happen to be moms!)
Congratulations on your new business! Tell me about momHIVE. Who are your ideal clients, and how can they benefit from working at momHIVE?
momHIVE is a coworking and community center who supports the professional success of ambitious women. We focus on supporting moms who work from home- as we provide daily on-site childcare for 4 hours each morning. Working here (instead of at their own dining table!) ensures they are focused and productive, not distracted by children or household duties, and supported by a community of like-minded women.
What made you want to open a coworking space for moms?
I needed it! In January of this year, I was planning ways to scale my online interior design business, and just couldn’t pick up speed because working in my house (with my kids and work-at-home husband) was NOT a recipe for success for me. I started talking to my local friends, and discovered the stresses of working while mom-ing were actually impacting lots of us! We were all craving a space to focus on our careers, while still having the flexibility of a remote career.
Prior to opening a coworking space, what was your career like? Did you work in a traditional job or were you a remote worker yourself?
My background is in higher education —student affairs — and I worked in the community college system for almost 4 years before we moved from Chicago to Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Here, I started an online interior design business while staying home with my two small children, but it never grew to be more than a side business. I wanted the flexibility of being home for my family, but the fulfillment and challenge (and income!) of a career.
What is a typical day in the life look like for you?
I’m up by 5:45am to start the morning routine, get the kids up and off to school, and open the doors to momHIVE by 8:30am. We check-in members with little ones in tinyHIVE (our childcare program) starting at 9am, and then everyone gets to work! We are a community of women, so chatting and connecting is part of the workday, but we also have huge to-do lists, so time at momHIVE is used productively and strategically to help everyone reach their goals.
I wrap up my time at the office to pick up my daughter from 2nd grade at 3:30, then we work on homework and tackle some household chores until it’s time to get my 3.5 year-old son at 5:30! Then it’s the “gauntlet” of dinner, bath time, story time, and bed.
My husband and I love cooking shows when we’re not binging the show of the moment (we just got caught up with The Good Place from the beginning!), and a quick glance at my planner before lights out. It’s a busy weekly routine, but I’m loving it!
What do your customers like about working remotely?
Our community was previously working from home, and struggled with feelings of isolation, overwhelm, and exhaustion. At momHIVE, they’re building some of the routine and community back into their lives that they have missed out on since leaving careers/traditional office-style jobs when they had children.
Why is a coworking space a smart workplace for remote workers?
Working from home is NOT the most efficient or productive place for many people to focus on work. There are always distractions present, and these are even more challenging for moms of small children! A coworking space provides community, office resources (like fast wifi, printing, and bottomless coffee) to make your work time a little more convenient, and the added boost of focus that comes from working side by side with other ambitious professionals.
I’m always curious about where people work, since everyone’s ideal workspace is so different from another person’s. What does your workspace look like?
Our space is intentionally light, bright, feminine, and welcoming. We are located in a converted home from the 1920’s, so there is lots of character and home-y touches.
What would you say to remote workers who were curious about joining a coworking space, but haven’t used one before?
Almost all coworking spaces will offer a tour, a free first day, or an easy “drop-in” rate for you to test it out. We all have our own feel, and our own intentional style of community that we attract. Keep looking until you find a space that feels like the best day at the office you’ve ever had! (A few tips: bring headphones, your charge cord, and low expectations. Let the culture of the space lead your experience there
Where do you see yourself and MomHive in five years?
We see ourselves opening additional locations in other neighborhoods that attract working moms. We want to open a co-ed space to support work from home dads, as well as spouses who operate family businesses together while caring for small children. Finally, we’re dreaming of contributing to the movement to eliminate the glass ceiling and gender wage gap by creating maternity leave on-ramp programs for local corporate clients to support executive level mothers when they add to their families.
What is your best advice for other remote workers?
Find a community! Just because you can work at home all the time, doesn't mean you have to!
Create a weekly schedule that actually works for you- be sensitive to your preferences and set yourself up for success daily by designing where and how you work. Leave your house, find like-minded people to surround yourself with, and see how much success you can achieve when you all strive together. If you can’t find that community— build it!
Looking for more advice on working remotely? Check out our newest book, 30 Hacks for Productive Remote Workers, part workbook and part guide that will help you work smarter, not harder. Oh, and did we mention that it was written by remote workers for remote workers? This advice is tried and tested, and we know it will help you maximize your productivity.
Images provided by Alyssa Cairns
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