The pandemic has forced millions of working parents to work from home, something that many were not accustomed to pre COVID-19 days. As COVID cases surge ahead of the winter, many working parents aren’t likely to return to the office any time soon, and if they are headed back, office life will look vastly different from their past experiences. For two local women, the experience has been a bit different since they neither worked in an office nor from home.
Prior to the pandemic, the Union and Morris County residents were co-working and co-learning at The Co-Co, a women-focused coworking space in Summit. But when The Co-Co was forced to shut its doors, working from home became their normal, too. The Co-Co re-opened its coworking space in July which has since given both women a sense of normalcy during the pandemic.
Following the Light
Photographers are notoriously searching for “the right light,” and that’s what Wendy Moynihan, a 52-year-old professional portrait photographer from Chatham, found when she joined The Co-Co.
She initially joined The Co-Co in hopes of having a beautiful space to work in, outside of her home, away from distractions. After becoming a member, she quickly discovered that she got all of that and so much more. “I knew immediately after joining that The Co-Co was more than a co-working space,” Moynihan says. “The Co-Co founders are gracious and always introduce members to one another.” Moynihan’s membership prior to the pandemic allowed her to explore resources, make connections, and inspired her to be a better small business owner.
During the shutdown, Wendy did not let the lack of in-person meetings change how she felt about The Co-Co. Her household was busy around the clock, with her husband and teens working from home. As a family, they found ways outside of working hours to help their community during the quarantine, such as sewing masks for the Front Line Sewing Angels. Her son spent his time 3D printing face shields for local healthcare workers. In addition to Wendy using her extra time at home to give back, she also prioritized learning new photography and business skills that The Co-Co offered members virtually, despite the stress of the pandemic and constant household needs.
“The Co-Co helped me achieve my business goals during the pandemic by providing virtual connections and resources,” she says. When The Co-Co re-opened in July, Wendy went back to the light and enjoyed The Co-Co in person, all made possible thanks to the safety precautions and changes that were made. “Safety precautions are well thought out, in place, and members are respectful,” she adds.
Couples and Co-Working
During the pandemic, leadership coaches and consultants have really had to put their advice into practice, which is exactly the case for Summit mom Jen Milnes.
Prior to the shutdown, her day consisted of growing her coaching and sustainability business. In the same way that she advises her clients, Milnes starts her day with meditation and goal setting before her kids are off to school or to their daily activities. This morning routine would be followed by a workout, and then she would make her way to The Co-Co! “My primary work would be coaching clients one-on-one in-person or via video in the private phone booths. I coach women on having more fulfilling careers which typically means reconnecting them with that inner spark that lights them up at work and throughout their daily lives,” Milnes says. To her unexpected surprised, she found herself having to “practice what she preached” when COVID-19 hit.
She had to redesign her habits to reset goals and expectations that were manageable during a global pandemic. She embraced the slower lifestyle without running from activity to activity, and while she enjoyed the added family time, she found herself missing the time that she used to spend at The Co-Co. Not only was Jen enjoying the space but so was her husband Doug.
Pre COVID-19, Jen and Doug had a weekly meeting that took place at The Co-Co. “As a couple and partners in running our family, we would review the next two weeks on our calendars to plan out what was happening. It was a way for us to support each other’s careers while ensuring that we were having fun and taking care of our family.”
Jen also previously experienced a relocation from San Francisco to Summit. Before starting her own business, she was a working mom commuting into NYC and wasn’t making time to build relationships within her community. “The Co-Co is a place to meet other driven women looking to make an impact in their lives and the community. I have been inspired by seeing women work in a variety of ways – either full-time corporate, part-time, entrepreneurs, returning to work after a break, etc. I continue to be amazed and inspired by the people I meet and learn from at The Co-Co.”
Since The Co-Co reopened, Jen has been back with her husband. They are finding that the space gives them the opportunity to safely connect with like-minded people, connect with each other and connect with themselves so that they can continue to reach their personal and professional goals.
Meet the Founders of The Co-Co