Poulsbo’s great experiment in coworking: Is it working?

Four years ago, after my regular 45 minute ride on a jam packed A train on the New York City subway, I picked up my then-12 month old twins from daycare, pushed them in our jam packed double stroller for the final mile walk home, survived dinner and bedtime, then—in a moment of sheer exhaustion—laid myself down, literally, on the floor of my tiny nine by three foot kitchen.

As I lay there (who lays down on the kitchen floor??), staring at the ceiling side-by-side with my husband, he told me he’d given notice at his job. It wasn’t just any job. He was also giving up his share of partnership in a company that does mind bogglingly cool work all over the world. It was a planned departure, yet it took the wind out of us in visceral, real ways. As we stared up at the kitchen ceiling that night, we wondered out loud what the hell we were doing.  

We had a dream: that we ourselves—along with 15,000 other reported work-from-homers in Kitsap county—could do the work that we love, from the place that we love. That we could do meaningful, fulfilling work surrounded by people and ideas that inspire us—right here in Kitsap. And that we could do all of that without feeling forced to succumb to exhausting commutes, expensive coffee-shop hopping or home offices that all-to-often turn lonely. 

Beyond all expectations

What we see around us here at Vibe today has surpassed all expectations.

When we opened the doors of our flagship Poulsbo location on the second floor of The Centennial last October, few imagined that a coworking space in a small rural suburb could possibly grow to be more than 208 members strong in one short year. 

Vibe Coworks / Brittany Kelley

Vibe Coworks / Brittany Kelley

Few imagined that we’d host more than 636 meetings and events in our first quarter alone, or earn community recognition as North Kitsap’s 2019 Best Meeting Place so soon after opening.

Few imagined all that Vibe might mean to remote workers, or that Kitsap has grown to be the 2nd largest statistical area of remote workers in all of Washington state (US Census). 

Few imagined that Vibe would become a place of productivity, refuge and advancement—not just for ‘laptop workers’—but for professional painters, auto repair teams, dental professionals, finance executives and educators, too. 

Few imagined that we’d have a remarkably even gender split among our members, or that members would span in age from their twenties, to their seventies.

Few imagined how meaningful it could be to have a “company” holiday party after years of working alone remotely, or how comforting a simple post-sneeze “bless you” sounds after months of working from home.

Few imagined that we’d serve up more than 1,200 cups of locally roasted, fair trade coffee (we love you, Grounds for Change!), or that more than 15,000 Slack messages would be sent internally between Vibe members, eager to connect and share in truly transformative ways.

And yet, here we are.

The future of work is happening here

As we celebrate our one year anniversary, the real measure of our success has nothing to do with numbers, and everything to do with real, authentic human connections. It has to do with the future of work that we ourselves are defining and creating.

In the last 365 days, not a day’s gone by when I haven’t had the incredible fortune of meeting someone new. 

Vibe Coworks / Brady Vernik

Vibe Coworks / Brady Vernik

I’m proud of the fact that Vibe has come to be a welcoming first stop (sometimes literally!) for dozens upon dozens of people who have recently moved to Kitsap. I’m equally proud of the fact that it’s become a welcoming home for dozens upon dozens of long-time Kitsapians—people with deep roots, strong connections and a passion for sharing all that they love about this place that we call home. 

From marketing to estate planning, tech meetups to accountability masterminds, member-led workshops and meetups at Vibe Coworks are thriving. 

New startups are being born across our white board walls, over the kitchen table and through the 6 Month Startup program hosted here. Others are preparing to scale. 

For the first time, Kitsap residents who work remotely or commute into Seattle for big name companies are bringing their teams to Poulsbo for offsite retreats and trainings. “I finally have a place where I actually feel proud to bring them,” one person told me. 

In natural, organic ways, people are finding the copywriters, legal counsel, accountants and UX designers that they need to grow their businesses faster and with better results than ever before—right here in Kitsap.

Remarkable because of you

Our first year is remarkable—not because of the numbers—but because Vibe members have woven their own threads of vision, persistence, achievement, inspiration and endurance into the tapestry that is Vibe Coworks. Ours is an incredibly powerful community of people who are shaping the future of Kitsap and far beyond, and I’m ever-grateful for that.


As Vibe grows and evolves into 2020, we’ll continue to ask the same questions: what can we do to foster innovation and encourage bigger and bolder ideas? How can we connect—with each other, with purpose, with resources, with ideas? How can we develop spaces for public interaction that help create community? What needs to change in order for us all to live our happiest, healthiest lives? 

Equally important for some, you can bet we’ll also keep asking things like: Who picked the music today? When’s the next Waffle Wednesday? And: Will my super cool key app work at the next Vibe location? 

Happy one year birthday, dear Vibe Tribe. 

We’ve got a hell of a lot to be proud of today.


Meet the author: Vibist Susan O’Meara is a Poulsbo-based freelance writer, editor and journalist with global experience. Back in the day, Susan did event marketing for the electrified Don King, boxing’s bad-boy biz whiz. Then she got roped into writing and producing TV spots for Love Boat: The Next Wave, the ‘90s reboot, and nonfiction programming for Showtime (e.g., Roswell: The Real Story). She’s not sure which was more surreal—going with the flow of those Hollywood highs, so to speak, or navigating Nairobi’s magazine scene. Susan has worked in the US and abroad for the likes of Bloomberg Media, Deloitte, Discovery Communications, and the United Nations. She’s obsessed with wrangling language and messaging that helps brands, businesses, and individuals to grow and shine. Except when it comes to Don King’s hair.