Satellite Workplaces: Pioneering Suburban Coworking Since 2009

Suburban coworking is having a moment, and for good reason. The world has embraced remote work, distributed teams can work from anywhere, and the need for coworking and flex office space beyond city centers is quickly growing.

The importance of suburban coworking is nothing new to Satellite Deskworks founder Barbara Sprenger, who launched her own coworking brand, Satellite Workplaces, in 2009 in Felton, California.

Sprenger opened her first Satellite location long before coworking was mainstream and “flex” was the talk of the commercial real estate world. The business was born of a need for local coworking as well as Sprenger’s vision to reduce the environmental and cultural impact of people commuting to an office every day.

“We were coming from an environmental focus of reducing commutes and the resultant CO2 emissions,” she says, “and from the larger community perspective of fostering vibrant town cores and helping parents to be closer to their kids during the working day.”

Open coworking space at Satellite Workplaces Santa Monica

A Growing Vision

Sprenger’s brand and vision has now grown to seven locations across California. There are Satellite locations in Sunnyvale, Campbell, Santa Monica, Gilroy, Santa Cruz, Los Gatos and the original Felton location. Satellite Deskworks workspace management software, which was designed and built to manage the Satellite spaces easily, efficiently and professionally, now powers 150-plus spaces around the world.

To share more about the Satellite Workplaces story and community, we chatted with Sprenger and community managers Ann Mejia in Sunnyvale, Aaron Caponigro in Santa Monica and Mia Marino in Felton. Here are the highlights of our conversation.

What is the Satellite community like? What type of professionals are generally attracted to the space?

Barbara Sprenger: The Satellite really attracts a broad range of professionals. We’re particularly proud of the fact that we’re 50/50 men and women and our members range in age from about 20 to 80. The similar thread that runs through our membership is a connection to the community they live in.

Ann Mejia: Our Satellite community is down-to-earth. Most professionals here are startup collaborators, young parents in need of quiet work space, and remote workers with headquarters in San Francisco. The Caltrain station is right downstairs if they need to go to HQ.

Aaron Caponigro: We have a pretty diverse crew in Santa Monica. I have press people, accountants, tech startups, small businesses and some Hollywood creatives. We’re a block from the beach so we have film crews come in pretty regularly to shoot in front of our big mural, or in a conference room, or on our balcony.

Reception at Satellite Workplaces Felton

What makes Satellite Workplaces special?

BS: In each of our centers, we’re truly a part of the larger community. We’ve always focused on being sure we can offer the broad mix of membership types and use plans that a diverse group of people needs. We have plans for drop-in space, buckets of hours to use just what you need without a monthly commitment, workstations, offices, and event space for whatever type of event you want to hold, whether Monday Night Meditation, a large seminar or Old Movie Night.

AM: The proximity to the train station and Murphy Avenue, with cafes, restaurants and bars is attractive. Having just one community manager is a way for members to meet one another in almost every situation. Community is truly built here.

Open coworking space at Satellite Workplaces Sunnyvale

How have you pivoted during COVID?

BS: We’ve worked really hard to be sure our spaces are safe. We’ve installed hospital-grade filters in the HVAC system, bought portable HEPA filter units, installed self-sterilizing sleeves for high touch areas, and we require masking and distancing. We also regularly communicate with members so they know what we’re doing. And we’ve had no reported cases!

Mia Marino: We did what we could to keep a lot of members on-board right away. The nature of business changed because people were no longer meeting in person, so we started doing more mail service. People weren’t using the meeting spaces but they still wanted a business address.

AC: We have more professionals doing virtual work. We have engineers, legal services, artists and a lot of people who teach seminars and create other educational products. Whether they’re teachers or people with their own businesses, there are more people teaching virtually in the space.

Lobby and mailboxes at Satellite Workplaces Los Gatos

What’s your favorite Deskworks feature?

BS: It has to be Network Check-in. I can see exactly who’s in the center from anywhere, it automatically tracks people’s usage so they are properly billed—again automatically. It lets non-members self-service their own day passes, and it ensures people’s guests aren’t camping at the center.

MM: The clickable floor plan was helpful when I was starting out because I didn’t know who was in what private offices. When I was delivering mail or even just when someone would come up to pay a bill, I could easily find them on the map. I knew where people sat, but I didn’t yet know their name. It was really nice to be able to click the floorplan and see. Deskworks has everything you need. And if it doesn’t, Barbara will find a way to add it.

AM: The flexibility to quickly and easily change and update information.

AC: The main feature for me is that Deskworks is just intuitive and user friendly. If I’ve done something once, I’ll remember how to do it because the menu options are straightforward and right there.

Open coworking space at Satellite Workplaces Campbell

Looking Ahead

For Sprenger, the future is bright for coworking, the Satellite Workplaces, and Deskworks.

The rise in visibility for suburban, rural and small town coworking confirms what Sprenger has known for more than a decade: there’s a need for coworking near where people live—and that need will only grow.

Open coworking space at Satellite Workplaces Los Gatos

At Satellite Deskworks, we’re committed to supporting and growing a robust coworking and flexspace community. If you have workspace management questions, request a free 15-minute consultation at satellitedeskworks.com/consult. Our experienced and talented team has been running coworking spaces for over a decade and we’re eager to share our insights. We’re here to help.

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