Speed Read on Indy’s Coworking Culture

Bring your own swingline.

For the city’s free agents, remote workers, and entrepreneurs, gone are the days of staking out a spot, Land Rush–style, in a cramped coffee shop and taking conference calls in the bathroom. Here, a guide to navigating Indy’s hottest new coworking spaces, from booking a conference room to landing a treadmill desk to finding the freshest refreshments on the city’s shared-office scene.

Honor the innovator. The Speak Easy (5255 N. Winthrop Ave., speakeasyindy.com), the so-called Moose Lodge for startups, arrived in SoBro in 2012 as Indy’s first coworking spot. Today, nearly a dozen such spaces dot the city’s landscape—and there’s talk of a second Speak Easy location opening downtown.   

Coworking outlets aren’t your father’s drab gray cubicle farm. Two of Indy’s most popular spaces, The Speak Easy and The Bureau (719 Virginia Ave., 318-0600, hingebureau.com), were outfitted by highly sought-after designer Nikki Sutton, who envisioned the former’s dimly lit bohemian and reclaimed feel, and the latter’s brighter, more mod style.

Indy-ites were so keen to try the idea, we didn’t wait for it to come to us. Many of the city’s pioneering coworkers were introduced to the concept long before the city had its first dedicated coworking spot. A group of about a dozen freelancers and entrepreneurs organized informal meetups around Indianapolis, from the IMA to Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company, beginning in March 2011, six years after the first coworking establishments began to emerge in San Francisco.

You can’t just waltz on in and whip open your laptop. Coworking hubs are members-only, with monthly and annual dues ranging from $100 a month at the stylish Bureau to $750 a year at the sleek and sprawling 52,000-square-foot Launch Fishers (12175 Visionary Way, Fishers, 537-7939, launchfishers.com). But call ahead, and you can land a free trial day pass at every coworking spot.    

On the move? No problem. Thanks to the state’s two-year-old CoWorking Passport program, a membership at one of the state’s official 35 coworking destinations, from Bloomington to South Bend, guarantees you a free space at other facilities (you can visit each once a month) around the state (indianacoworkingpassport.com).

Think beyond vending machines and brew-your-own coffee. The city’s best coworking sites offer premium refreshments. Studio B Creative Exchange (613 N. East St.; 3636 E. 38th St.; 602-7200, studiobcreativeexchange.comserves up locally crafted juices. Launch Fishers has a 75-person cafe, pouring beverages from teas to frapps. The Speak Easy features its own serve-yourself rotating tap of local beer. And Zionsville’s zWorks (85 E. Cedar St., 517-5990, zworks.org) provides Fountain Square Brewery beer.

They’re great places to host clients. Need a conference room? Arrive early at The Speak Easy, where they’re first come, first served. Book a room ahead online for The Bureau.

Need to blow off steam—or log some steps on your fitness tracker—during a long conference call? Lace up your sneaks, grab your files, and try one of Launch Fishers’s popular treadmill desks. “You can’t reserve them,” says community manager Cassie Conklin, adding that the two units are most used during mornings and after lunch. “But they’re in high demand.”

Find your tribe. Each space has its own personality, whether it’s the do-gooders like Monumental Marathon and Renew Indianapolis who office at The Platform (minimum 6-month membership for $600, 202 E. Market St., 454-8486, theplatformindy.org), or the just-out-of-college app designers and 40-something attorneys of Launch Fishers. Meanwhile, Studio B caters to female entrepreneurs.