Coworking spaces, like other businesses operating on margins, usually start operations “in the red.” It then becomes vital for the health and...
Abigail Schilling is coworking’s workflow whisperer
When Abigail Schilling moved to small-town Medford, Oregon, she was eager for a vibrant coworking space catering to digital nomads like herself. What she discovered instead was a major gap. But that turned into a prime business opportunity for locals, and now empowers spaces all over the country to “work smarter, not harder.”
“I didn’t know coworking wasn’t everywhere.”
After years traveling North America remotely from an RV, Schilling chose Medford for proximity to family. Naturally she sought a collaborative hub to connect her to the location independent community. Shockingly, she came up empty. As Schilling tells it:
“I went to join a coworking space so that I could make friends and not cowork with my mom. And there was no there was no coworking. I thought, "I wonder if I should start a coworking space?”
What began as surprise sparked a vision. After devouring the “Everything Coworking” podcast and powering her way into Jamie Russo’s startup school, Schilling opened Medford Cowork Collective (MCC) within six months.
Pandemic pivot: crisis inspires innovation
In January 2020, MCC doors opened. Weeks later, COVID-19 turned “business as usual” on its head globally.
Rather than shuttering, Schilling leveraged agility to expand while competitors closed:
“We did the whole pandemic thing, and expanded to a second location in 2021. Then we expanded to a third location in 2022. The third location was a total flop, so it closed after a year.”
The breakneck growth brought invaluable lessons about optimizing systems and operations. It also exhausted Schilling’s personal bandwidth as owner-operator. She cringed imagining fellow space leaders equally overwhelmed juggling maxed out mental real estate.
She envisioned another way.
Sharing hard-won wisdom to empower the industry
After three whirlwind years building the Medford coworking ecosystem from scratch, Schilling formalized her purpose-over-paycheck pivot:
“I don't want to own another coworking space. So I hung my shingle as an agency supporting coworking spaces. We do implementation as well as consulting. That’s Space Savvy Studio.”
Now instead of hosting Medford’s mobile workforce solo, Schilling leads a skilled 8-person team supporting spaces worldwide to:
- Optimize tedious manual tasks
- Maximize existing software platforms
- Build custom tech solutions
- Craft effortless member experiences
- Improve sales processes
- Prevent staff burnout
"My ‘why’ is helping small operators rely less on their bodies and brains with more tech and process efficiency,” Schilling explains. “The industry isn't profitable enough for so much manual effort.”
Proven wins: peace, productivity + performance
While hungry to keep clients happy and spaces full, Schilling is most gratified when empowering leaders behind the scenes.
Enabling a founder’s long overdue retreat
With automated email, clear escalation protocols, and fill-in duty rotations established, Schilling shares, “we enabled one of our clients to go on a silent retreat” after years hoping but never disconnecting.
Optimizing scheduling + reporting workflows
Schilling built a custom daily mobile report for a therapy space tracking client bookings across offices. Now staff instantly anticipate needs.
Preventing burnout with accountability
At MCC, Schilling’s team introduced a “Who’s On Ops” schedule with one week on-call then two weeks focusing on special projects. No more 24/7 fire drills, just sustainable service and collective capability building.
While proud of these transformations, she envisions coworking claiming its household name status through partnerships expanding access and revenue without requiring consolidation heartburn. She also hopes to lower barriers to new diverse owners entering the industry, suggesting:
“More management agreements, more landlords looking for creative partnerships... And more creative funding opportunities."
By sharing hard-earned insight and practical solutions far and wide, Abigail Schilling and the Space Savvy Studio team help coworking walk the workflow talk for members and staff alike.