By: Adam Mawer
In July 2015, I sat in the living room of my Yonge and Eglinton area apartment, working on a piece of content for a client – a media kit. Working for a start up that was beginning to gain momentum, I understood that everything I produced could significantly help or hinder the company. Seeing the growth made me excited but one thing constantly ate away at me:
I was tired of being at home.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I typically enjoy the work that I do. My displeasure was not due to work. I mean, sure, sometimes work got on my nerves, but that happens to all of us. But, at the end of the day, I was sick and tired of working from home. After several long months of rotating between my bedroom desk, my living room, and local coffee shops, I knew I had to get out of there. Your home is a place where you go to escape work – it should not be a place where you feel trapped like Donald Trump in a geography contest.
So, I had two options:
- Quit and leave behind a growing company with a bright future.
- Find an awesome place where I could work that has enthusiastic people and a welcoming culture.
Enter Workhaus Market.
I stumbled across Workhaus Market while researching co-working spaces in Toronto. Of course, at the time, it was the ONLY Workhaus location.
After receiving a tour with our Director, I immediately knew this was somewhere I wanted to work. From the bright loft spaces and unique view of the St. Lawrence Market to the brick walls and open-concept lounge space, who could say no? Plus, I was told there would be beer.
But, over two years later, I can now say that it wasn’t the space that won me over. It wasn’t even the free beer (although, I can’t say that didn’t help), lunch and learns ($15 sandwiches for free, people), fitness classes (because who wouldn’t want to walk up 15 flights of stairs at the Adelaide Club after a boxing class?), entrepreneurial workshops (pro tip: if Kamal is teaching, just go), marina parties (spoiler: there is exercise involved but the food and view are worth it), or Christmas parties (celebrate the magic of the season with the magic of several alcoholic drinks).
It was the people.
Arguably, Workhaus Market had the best culture from any Workhaus location. Now, not to show off, but when former members come back to weekly socials to visit with friends they made at Workhaus, there’s something special there. When a long-time member moves to another country and wants to come back for our social events, there’s something special there. When a company finally receives funding to expand their team to a new office but invites members to visit them, there’s something special there.
Something about Workhaus Market is just special. It’s hard to put your finger on it, but perhaps it can be traced back to hilarious nights on the patio with your team or other members. Or, maybe, it was the long conversations between new and weathered members in the kitchen. But, it could have easily been just getting off the elevator and chilling at the front desk with whomever wanted to chat.
So, that’s what makes the closure of Workhaus Market rather bittersweet. While we mourn the loss of the physical space, that’s not what makes us sad. It’s not the architecture, or the way the light pours in through the windows in the morning, or the lack of a reliable and structurally sound elevator. It’s the loss of the space that held our memories. It’s almost as if leaving a home rich in such a lived-in history causes our memories to spill out everywhere, and we feel like we’ve spun out of orbit, scrambling to collect them.
But we must remember that we have lost the space, not the memories. We just need to establish a new place to hold them. Luckily, Workhaus has three: Temperance, 350 Bay, and Commerce Court.
With Commerce Court coming online in September, it becomes the biggest Workhaus space complex and provides an incredible space for dozens and dozens of teams. With PATH access, state of the art A/V equipment, multiple meeting rooms, a large kitchen, and multiple breakout spaces, it is truly the place to be for those interested in co-working in Toronto.
It is also the biggest opportunity to create something special, establish new memories, and carry on the legacy of Workhaus Market. It won’t happen overnight, but a little bit can go a long way towards creating an incredible culture.
So, next time you’re waiting for your food to heat up in the kitchen, get off your phone and introduce yourself – nobody will bite (Adrian might but he’s getting the professional help he sorely needs). If there’s a weekly social, don’t put your head down and make a beeline towards the elevators – stay for a drink, say hello, and talk to your fellow members. You may even make a valuable connection that you can leverage for your business – I have seen it happen many times!
To close out this eulogy, in the spirt of a good friend, I want to buy you all a (virtual) shot of whisky. I’d like for you to please raise it up and say a quick “Cheers!” to Workhaus Market with your neighbours.
Now, let’s move on to bigger and better things.
Note: Please do not ask me to buy you an actual shot of whisky.