Coworking + Childcare: Understanding Coworking for Parents

Unpacking the benefits, challenges, and key considerations with the childcare and coworking model
By Kelly K
April 2, 2024
Coworking spaces for parents - coworking and childcare


  • In the coworking and childcare model, childcare is offered in coworking spaces as either part-time childminding and/or full-time daycare
  • Offering childcare will require special licensing and dedicated childcare space which can be expensive
  • Childcare may not fit well with your ICP (Ideal Client Profile). Therefore, it’s important to do your research before deciding to move forward with this model

Parents across North America are experiencing what is known as a childcare crisis. Up to 33% of mothers struggle to find affordable childcare for their children, and it’s affecting their ability to work.

Coworking spaces are stepping up to fill this critical gap by introducing integrated childcare and work environments. It’s a trend that has skyrocketed in recent years, being covered in popular coworking podcasts, blogs, webinars, and more.

In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of the coworking and childcare model with the help of a few Optix clients: Maggie from Elevate Coworking, Elizabeth from OneSpace, and Stacie from Phase Family Center.

Together, we’ll unpack the benefits, challenges, and key considerations operators should keep in mind when introducing childcare to their coworking space.

Coworking and childcare: what is it?

The coworking and childcare model brings together shared workspaces with an on-site childcare offering. The idea is that a parent could bring their child to a facility and work while they play nearby, providing an essential service at a convenient location.

Elizabeth Fisher founded OneSpace, a coworking space offering on-site childcare, because she wanted to provide, “ease, flexibility and peace of mind to parents”. Ultimately, that is what offering childcare to your coworking community is all about.

The coworking and childcare business model

The business model of coworking and childcare is the same as the coworking business model. Operators sell space in the form of desks, meeting rooms, and more. Offering childcare creates an additional revenue opportunity in the form of a hyper focused niche coworking amenity

This enables you to offer a higher base price per membership plan or charge for childcare separately. 

It’s important to note that although childcare can be an additional revenue stream, it is also a significant cost center. Be sure to know your numbers before committing to this type of model as it can be tricky to get right. 

Integrating coworking with childcare

In most coworking spaces, childcare is offered in one of two ways: part-time childminding and full-time daycare. 

Part-time childminding (after-school care, drop-ins) works similarly to the in-gym daycare or Ikea model. 

  • Parents drop their kids off in a dedicated childcare space for a set amount of time
  • They get charged by the hour or for that period (ie. $40 for care from 3-5:30)
  • They either need to sign up for a slot beforehand or can drop-in
  • There is typically a time limit for how long they can stay 

Full-time daycare is offered as a full-time service with quarterly, biannually, or annual memberships. This is a fully licensed daycare facility that is integrated with the coworking space so that parents can work in the space while their children are cared for nearby.

In both models, contact between the child and the parent varies depending on the space. Some spaces have parents taking care of things like toileting, while others limit all contact.

At OneSpace, Elizabeth offers part-time childminding and babyminding. Parents can drop off their child for up to four  hours depending on the age of the child and the needs of the parents. It is priced starting at just $14/hr, making it an attractive option for parents. 

You can learn more about OneSpace’s pricing structure on their website.

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Examples of coworking and childcare membership plans

When it comes to creating membership plans, you need to figure out how to incorporate coworking and childcare in a way that is both appealing for members and profitable. When creating a reasonably priced plan to suit your community, be sure to think about:

  • When you want to offer childcare (certain days of the week or certain times of the day?)
  • What ages you serve (babies to school aged children)
  • The minimum and maximum time allowed (maximum drop-in times up to 4 hours for example avoid abuse of the system)
  • Amenities you offer both parent and child (indoor vs outdoor play vs both)
  • Amount of contact between parent and child? (will parents handle toileting or will staff?)

At Phase Family Center, parents are given the choice between a variety of childcare options including preschool, after-school care, school breaks, and summer camp. Stacie and her team serve children from six weeks to twelve years of age, with pricing varying depending on the service.

Here are examples of a few other plans we’ve seen:

Price What’s Included Location
$66 Half-day coworking and care for infant 6 months to 18 months The Workaround
Toronto, ON
$429/mo 3 hours of childcare Mon + Wed all month, a space to work, open play playground membership Fandory Factory
San Diego, CA
$32/hour Babyminding (1-3 hr max) for 8-12 months of age OneSpace
Vancouver, BC

What are the benefits of offering childcare at a coworking space?

Benefits of offering childcare at a coworking space

Offering childcare services in your space can help you:

  • Differentiate yourself from other spaces in your area
  • Identify your ideal customer profile (ICP) through a unique coworking niche offering
  • Attract more members of an underserved population to your space (parents!)
  • Support the broader community with a much needed offering
  • Build community within and between members
  • Generate revenue on an additional service

One of the greatest benefits for Stacie Williams, President and COO of Phase Family Center, is they get to really put their money where their mouth is and support what they say they support. This is an example of a high “Say/Do ratio”, as coined by Adam Hyman in our webinar on coworking growth and member acquisition

"We say we are a family center, a hub for community. Offering services for children and adults, as well as spaces for birthdays, weddings, and business events, makes us a true one stop shop for families in our community." 
Stacie Williams, president and COO of Phase Family Learning Center

On-site childcare is great on paper, but can be tricky in execution. The cost of running childcare services is the number one reason why we see coworking operators abandon the childcare model. The cost comes from the resources needed to run the operation including:

  • Dedicated childcare space
  • Childminding staff members
  • Licensing
  • Toys and activities
  • Food and drinks
  • Cleaning services

Before opening, it’s important to consider the cost of implementing these resources in your space. 

The other challenge with offering childcare in your coworking space (and another important thing to keep in mind), is the demand in your market. We’ve seen clients remove childcare from their space because the demand just wasn’t there.

Maggie Blackham, Founder at Elevate Coworking, opened her women-only coworking space with the full intention of offering childcare to her members. However, after a year, Maggie made the decision to pivot away from the childcare offering and go all in on helping women in business. For her, offering childcare just didn’t make sense for her ICP. 

Examples of coworking spaces for parents

As challenging as the coworking and childcare model can be, some spaces are doing it exceptionally well. Check out these three Optix clients who are using childcare to better serve the needs of their community and their members.


OneSpace Community Member and their Daughter
Photo provided by OneSpace

OneSpace is a warm and cozy family-friendly coworking space offering drop-in childcare five days a week. They aim to make life easier for parents by bringing childcare and work facilities under one roof.

The homey space houses both the childcare and coworking facilities under one roof so parents are never far away from their children. They also offer drop-in fitness classes complimentary for members, as well as ongoing events specifically designed to enrich and support the lives of busy parents in the community.

Learn how Optix helped Elizabeth and her team switch from Cobot to Optix.

Phase Family Center

Phase family center - coworking for parents

Phase Family Center operates coworking, childcare, and events in a single 62,500 square foot facility. They serve children in their community from 6 weeks to 12 years of age with preschool, after school care, summer camps, and more.

Their coworking space and licensed childcare facility operate under two separate brands. However, their proximity to one another makes it an incredibly appealing choice for working parents.

Child & Co.

Child and Company Coworking
Photo taken from Child & Co.'s website

Child & Co. is a community-driven coworking space designed for parents with young children. Located in sunny Florida, they offer private offices as well as child-friendly spaces available for up to four hours a day.

During those four hours, children between the ages of three months and three years old are offered a quality care experience including snacks, toys, crafts, guided circle time, and more.

For more inspiration, check out our list of the Top Childcare and Coworking Spaces in North America.

What to consider when opening a coworking and childcare facility

If you have your heart set on opening a childcare and coworking facility, here are some things to keep in mind to ensure you can successfully start a coworking space and grow it with childcare.

1. You will likely need special licensing

Childcare licensing varies from country to country and state to state. In the US for example, some states do not require childcare services to be licensed if the care is short term and the parents are on the premises. Again, these regulations vary widely.

Stacie agrees that licensing is the biggest challenge in getting a space up and running.

"Licensed childcare is heavily regulated. We have fobbed entrances and spaces that can only be accessed by families and staff of the learning center, and some shared space where events and the learning center both have access. Just maintaining the necessary boundaries and expectations can get complicated."
Stacie Williams, president and COO of Phase Family Learning Center

Do your research and see what kind of licenses you will be required to obtain to offer childcare services. is a good resource to start with if you’re located in the US. After you determine the licensing you’ll need, be sure to factor this into the cost of opening your coworking space.

2. Drop-in care can prove challenging

It’s appealing to want to offer parents flexibility with childcare. For most spaces however, drop-ins alone are not feasible to make a profit.

Think about the difference between income generated by private offices and hot desks. With a private office, you know you are receiving $x a month for y number of months. You can predict your cash flow and factor that in accordingly.

With hot desks, you never know if or when they are going to be filled and for how long. Therefore, it’s almost impossible to predict cash flow based on hot desk occupancy alone.

The same goes for drop-in childcare. You can’t rely on childcare services as a primary revenue driver if you never know if the services are going to be used. For this reason, most childcare services prefer offering full-time or monthly care packages as opposed to hourly or daily drop-ins.

Amirh Davis and Christina Gutierrez spoke about the challenges of offering drop-in care on the Everything Coworking podcast. If you’re considering this model, we recommend checking out this episode.

3. Different ages will require different kinds of care

It’s impossible to blanket childcare into a single category when each age group requires very different levels of care.

If you’re interested in offering childcare services at your coworking space, think about the age group you want to serve. This will then influence the business model you choose to implement.

Some examples of age-influenced business models include:

  • Babyminding on weekday mornings for 2-3 hour periods
  • After school care for elementary-aged children weekdays 3-5
  • Preschool care on weekdays for 4-6 hour periods

Depending on your coworking location, there may be special requirements around adult to children ratios as well, so consider that when building out who and how many people to hire, and on what days.

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4. Finding the right staff is key

One of the biggest challenges we find with opening a childcare and coworking space is staffing. Hiring the right staff for your coworking space is challenging to begin with, let alone when you add childcare on top.

Providing exceptional childcare means employing experienced early childhood educators. If you do choose to offer drop-in care, you will also need to have employees on-site at all possible hours to accommodate their needs. This can prove to be very expensive.

Some regions of North America are also struggling with staffing when it comes to childcare spaces, which can be another potential hurdle to overcome. 

Consider the availability and cost of employing early childhood educators in your location before choosing this model, and take the time to find the right staff for your space.

5. Offering childcare will influence your ideal client profile – and therefore, your coworking offerings

Coworking spaces for parents - coworking and childcare

Many coworking spaces offering childcare do allow non-parents to use the space. However, offering childminding services will strongly influence your ICP, which will in turn affect everything else you choose to offer. This includes things like:

  • The events you put on – emphasis on family-friendly or parental education events
  • The snacks you offer – kid friendly snacks
  • The add-on services you provide – family counseling or coaching for parents in the workforce
  • The amenities in your space – a TV live stream so parents can easily see their children
  • The time your space is open – offering after school or early morning care may mean opening your space at different hours

Many operators find this clarity actually makes their overall offerings much stronger, but it will depend on you and your community. Keep this in mind when planning your coworking offerings.

Using technology in your coworking and childcare space

The right tech stack can make running your coworking business a lot easier. Consider how you will use technology to make the day-to-day management of your space significantly simpler.

Many coworking and childcare spaces choose to deploy a coworking management system like Optix along with a few other strategic tech pieces to streamline, optimize, and grow their business. With an integrated coworking tech ecosystem, operators can save time on their daily tasks, while unlocking new capabilities through data driven insights.

If you’re interested, you can reach out to a member of our team to learn more about how coworking software can support your business. 

Childcare can be a central differentiating factor at your coworking space

Coworking and childcare is a great offering that does a wonderful service – but it doesn’t come without its difficulties. 

Despite these challenges, Stacie, Elizabeth, and many of our other incredible clients have proven that coworking and childcare can cohabitate seamlessly and benefit from each other’s presence. 

Stacie’s advice for new operators? “If you are looking to add a licensed center as we have, know that there are regulations that you must meet,” says Stacie. “Often the safety and security of the center comes before coworking preferences.”

Check out the Phase Family Center website to learn more about their approach to coworking and childcare.

Looking to start your own coworking space? See how Optix can help.