Bring Your Kids to Work (Every) Day
A family-friendly coworking space in Presque Isle gives entrepreneurial parents more flexibility
When Lillie Lavado was looking for office space in Presque Isle for her web and user-experience design business, she wanted more than high-speed internet and a convenient location. She wanted a dedicated play space so she could work with her children nearby instead of in daycare. Realizing she likely wasn’t the only parent in this situation, she decided find a location for more than just her office: it would also house a family-friendly coworking space.
Lavado opened Hardscrabble Solutions in downtown Presque Isle in June 2017 as a way to help entrepreneurs and remote workers who don’t want to or can’t pay for childcare. “I think what I’m trying to do is find solutions for the dilemma we’ve found as women in the workforce,” she says. Although many of the members are women, fathers use the space as well. Hardscrabble Solutions appears to be the only coworking space in Aroostook County, and it may be the only family- friendly one in the state. Parents use one area of the office space, which is set up with desks and couches, and kids are in a separate play area. “We know where they are; we have that access,” Lavado says. To entertain kids while their parents work, Lavado has helped develop different programs, including classes in coding, music, and art, which take place on-site as well as local community organizations. The coworking space is available at hourly, daily, and monthly rates and can also be rented for private events at night and on weekends.
Most workplaces aren’t set up to accommodate parents, Lavado says. Adults have to balance working and putting their children first, which leaves many parents in a bind. “There are very few places in Aroostook County that understand this model,” she says. “It’s flexible and unconventional. That’s the point.” Without being experimental, she says, it won’t be possible to make progress toward more inclusive and accommodating workplaces.