Donna Riordan (left) and Sarah Cooper.

Orcas Island’s first coworking business: 376

With its expansive windows, comfortable furniture and quiet atmosphere, 376 is a place for freelance writers, entrepreneurs and telecommuters to finish projects and share ideas.

Based on the coworking model of a shared work environment, the business has high speed internet, desks and conference rooms available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“It’s the rage in cities these days,” said Sarah Cooper, who launched 376 in early May with her business partner Donna Riordan.

Both women are familiar with working from home offices – Cooper as a conference management consultant and Riordan as science public policy consultant. They say that by 2020 it is estimated that 40 percent of the working population will be conducting business virtually.

“This generation is coming along who can live where they work,” Cooper said.

Located at 596 Main Street in the building that formerly housed Orcas Net, the business offers wifi and ethernet, workstations and desks (semi-private and private), quiet zones, a private booth for phone calls, computer monitors, a printer, copier, scanner and fax, conference rooms, an HD wall-mounted projector and videoconferencing. The building is backed up with a diesel generator that kicks on when the power goes out. It also has mail drop-off and package delivery, 22 on-site parking spaces, online subscriptions to news sources like the New York Times, a full kitchen, a lounge and a covered deck. 376 offers both long-term memberships and drop-in rates, and is staffed during regular business hours. It is intended to be as flexible as possible to meet a variety of needs for locals, visitors, start-up companies and nonprofits.

The two friends began seriously talking about opening a co-working business last December. They held focus groups with islanders to gauge interest for the project, and spent several months restructuring the building’s interior.

“There are people working here in all kinds of strange places – the back of the post office, the library parking lot,” Riordan said. “There is also the need of wanting to be part of a community and not feeling isolated. We wanted to create an environment for that to organically emerge.”

For more information about 376, email info@376group.com.