Kirsten Anderson wanted a place to work that was conducive to planning workshops and completing requests for proposals but that also provided support and ideas to help her anti-harassment consulting business grow.

For the past year, Anderson has worked out of her home and “probably every single coffee shop in Des Moines,” she said. When she learned Jackie Johansen was starting Modern Desk, a coworking space in West Des Moines, Anderson jumped at the opportunity to join.

“There’s lots of time I need working space where there aren’t distractions,” said Anderson, who began Equitas Solutions a year ago. Modern Desk “is appealing because I also want to be in a community of other female entrepreneurs.”

As Johansen was starting Shattered Glass Development, a development, acquisition and real estate brokerage firm, she used coworking space in the Des Moines area. The experience was positive, she said.

As her business grew, Johansen found herself needing a more formal office and occasionally a conference room. Over the summer, she learned that an office building at 401 Grand Ave. in West Des Moines was for sale. The two-story building, built in 1983, was bigger than she needed for her company but she decided to buy it anyway.

“I made an offer on it and thought ‘I can figure the rest out later,’” she said.

In August, Johansen closed on the 1,464-square-foot building, paying $237,000 for it, Polk County recorder records show. 

From her experiences working in Des Moines-area coworking space, Johansen knew there was a pent-up demand for more flexible workspace as well as for conference room space. She decided to launch Modern Desk, a coworking business that provides workspaces in private offices as well as open areas and includes the availability of a conference room.

Johansen said her research has shown demand for coworking space will continue regardless of any future economic downturns.

“There were only a few coworking spaces in the last recession, but they are recession strong,” she said. 

Coworking, sometimes called flexible space, has seen tremendous growth since 2005 when it first appeared. Researchers say the demand for space will continue.

Currently, there are more than 35,000 flexible workspaces worldwide that occupy an estimated 521 million square feet, according to data compiled by Allwork.space. The number of coworking spaces in the United States in 2018 increased 16% from the previous year; the growth is expected to continue by an average of 6% per year through 2022. By 2030, the flexible workspace market is expected to occupy 30% of office space, Allwork.space reported.

Several coworking spaces already exist in Des Moines, including those operated by Gravitate, Collaborate DSM and Regus.

Modern Desk is different because it will target females who want flexible space and want to collaborate with other females, Johansen said, adding that men are welcome as well.

“The space is great, but it’s the community they are excited about,” Johansen said. “The intention is to grow together, to connect each other to our networks, to have educational and motivational speakers, and we’ll have business coaches that are available.”

Modern Desk will offer a range of options to potential clients, including a virtual office, an administrative assistant, marketing and IT services. Lease agreements are flexible, ranging from the ability to use the space a few days a month to yearlong lease agreements.

Modern Desk has enough space to accommodate about 30 memberships, said Johansen, who is updating some of the interior spaces with new flooring and fresh paint. 

Johansen plans to open other Des Moines-area Modern Desk locations and eventually expand throughout the Midwest.

Anderson, the Equitas Solutions owner, is looking forward to working at space at Modern Desk.

“When you’re starting a business, you don’t necessarily need a traditional work setting,” she said. “A lot of people work at coffee shops now. You can’t do coffee shops every day.”