This is my interview with Lisa Duncan, co-founder of Duncan+Coleverria, Inc., which created of Flipside Workspace.
What is Flipside Workspace?
Flipside Workspace is a virtual work environment that mimics the experience of working in a physical office space.
When did it launch?
We moved our office (Duncan+Coleverria, Inc.) into Flipside in 2011 and began using the space ourselves. We quietly opened the doors in 2012 when we got our first paying customers.
Who developed it?
Flipside Workspace™ was created by Duncan+Coleverria, Inc. We hired a 3D development team to realize our vision and collaborated with solopreneurs from around the globe to accomplish what you see today.
Why did you create Flipside?
Flipside Workspace™ was one of those creations that came out of pure necessity. At the time, my business partner and I were solopreneurs, working as independent marketing consultants. We were collaborating on a potential job when we started talking about the pros and cons of working on one’s own.
When we thought about the negatives: the isolation, feelings of re-inventing the wheel, wearing ALL hats (IT, HR, Accounting), lack of professional meeting spaces, we both thought, “This is crazy! With all the technology that exists today, there has to be a better way.”
We sketched out our “ideal way to work from home,” and Flipside Workspace was born.
How does it differ from other virtual spaces?
Flipside Workspace is unique in that it has been designed from a user’s perspective, rather than as a “technical advancement.” We took our own experience of working for all sizes of businesses: from small, one-office firms, to large international firms, to working independently. We incorporated our observations of collaboration and productivity from each of these very different environments and put them into one place. The result is the ability for Flipside Workspace to effortlessly scale for any size business, from co-sharing space to private enterprise space, and maintain the same level of collaboration and productivity as in real life.
Most collaboration tools and virtual spaces available today are designed for “one-off” meeting use and require time to set up, such as arranging a conference-call meeting, a virtual meeting, or a video conference. While these tools serve a much-needed purpose for the teleworker and solopreneur, they are “active” collaborations that require time to schedule and arrange. What we’ve built allows for passive collaboration and increased opportunity for cooperation.
Who uses Flipside?
Members of Flipside Workspace include: solopreneurs; businesses that have their own teleworking programs; and businesses with project teams that are geographically dispersed.
How are solopreneurs using Flipside?
This has been an exciting trend to watch grow, and as a former solopreneur, a trend that is near and dear to my heart. Solopreneurs are using it not just as a place to meet with their teams or clients, but also as a place to build their business. We are working with some solopreneurs now on developing training or educational sessions to run in our conference room. This is huge for solopreneurs who have limited travel and marketing budgets. Now they can open up their courses to a much broader audience and share their expertise without having to limit themselves geographically.
What benefits would a solopreneur derive from using it?
Aside from the ability to interact and network with other businesses, one of the biggest benefits a solopreneur has to using Flipside Workspace is it gives them a place to “hang their professional hat.” It gives a solopreneur the ability to have online perpetual presence to its team, its clients, and its customers. It’s a professional place to work that’s in between working in an office, and working out of Starbucks.
The ease with which one can say “Let’s meet in Flipside” versus “let me set up a conference call, what time are you available? O.K., here’s the number…the password” is an added perk.
Having worked in the space for nearly 2 years now, I will say an unexpected benefit that I’ve received from Flipside Workspace is that psychological shift I get when I log in. As soon as I enter the lobby, I’m in work mode. I can mentally check out when I log out.
How much does it cost?
We offer a monthly subscription for $24.99, with a 15-day free trial period. This gives you full access to our co-working space, plus the ability to book the private conference room at no extra charge.
What equipment do I need to use Flipside?
Flipside Workspace is a browser-based application. First-time users are required to download two plug-ins, Unity (environment) and Vivox (VoIP).
Headsets are strongly recommended for using voice in the environment.
You have written extensively about telework at your blog, alternativeworkstyle.com. How do you see solopreneurship changing/evolving over the next 10 years or so?
I think most everyone agrees that there is an upward trend in the number of solopreneurs; in fact, one report I read predicted 50% of the workforce would be solopreneurs by 2020. Personally I think that’s an over-estimation. We still have some very real roadblocks for solopreneurs, such as personality and the strict IRS classifications. With the economy gaining greater stability, more solopreneurs will return to employers and less will leave jobs (either willingingly or unwillingly) to start new ventures.
Not everyone has the mindset to be a solopreneur. It can often be isolating. It takes discipline, it takes persistence, and it takes the ability to direct all aspects of the job. Not everyone can, nor wants to do this. Most still think there are two choices: work in an office as an employee or work from home as a solopreneur.
But, there are a lot of exciting shifts happening that will help solopreneurs over the next 10 years.
Companies are redesigning office space to accommodate remote workers and contract employees that need to touch base in physical space. Physical co-working spaces are popping up everywhere to help give that third option of “solo working, with others.” Of course, Flipside Workspace provides that third option for the online crowd.
In terms of solopreneurship evolution, I think we will see a greater shift from a collaborative mindset to a cooperative mindset — more tools for solopreneurs will be focused on facilitating this cooperative environment. The idea behind solopreneuers and enterprises working together in Flipside Workspace is an example of this type of cooperative environment.
There are two new books out on the market that I think are tremendously helpful for solopreneurs moving forward.
The first is an e-book by David Chan, The Virtual Office: Success Tools for Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses. As the name implies, it really walks the reader through some of the current and future ways of configuring a virtual office to take advantage of the trend towards a virtual workforce.
The second e-book, Four Dead Kings at Work by David Rolston, paints an excellent picture of the forces that are creating a culture of teleworkers and where this culture is headed. It is probably one of the most insightful and intelligent takes on the changing work culture I have read.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
We would love to invite TheSolopreneurLife.com readers to take a personal tour of Flipside Workspace and let us show you how it works. Register at www.flipsideworkspace.com and put “solopreneur” in the “how’d you hear about us box.” Sign up for our 15-day free trial period before June 30, 2013, and we will send you Flipside Workspace earbuds to use while you’re in the environment.