Robbin Orbison

Cape Cod Life  /  Annual Life 2020 /

Writer: Elizabeth Shaw

President of CapeSpace  \\  Helping Cape Cod get to work

Would you describe your office space as a hotel? What about a gym? Those are some unexpected, yet accurate, descriptions from CapeSpace President Robbin Orbison. For the last six years, Orbison and CapeSpace have been providing the area with convenient, accessible and affordable places to work. “We are essentially a hotel for workers. We provide on demand workspace and meeting space for people on flexible terms with services,” Orbison says of CapeSpace, with locations in Hyannis and Mashpee. 

Coming in from New York City, where shared workspaces were commonplace, Orbison and her husband were surprised to find no such thing on the Cape. “For the first few months, we were trying to work out of the house. I said to him, ‘You know what? We’ve got to get out of this house; I’m going crazy’,” Orbison laughs. “I said lets just go to a Regus, which is the largest operator of shared spaces, but there weren’t any on the Cape, or any of their competitors; there was nothing.” It’s true what they say about necessity being the mother of invention. It wasn’t just the Orbison’s need for a place to get out of the house and get work done. “We bought some data research before we opened and learned that there were 11,000 home based businesses on Cape Cod. Even if only half of those are real, it is still a lot. A space like this is popular with someone who is running a business from their home because we can give them a more professional image,” she explains. CapeSpace can give members a street business address for mailing purposes and a more professional setting to meet with clients. The spaces also provide members with a distraction-free workspace that mimics an office to promote productivity. “A lot of people find it difficult to work from home because of distractions, and they feel unmotivated and isolated. One of the biggest things this space brings to people is a sense of community. Industry-wide, it has been proven that the number one reason people come to these shared workspaces is for human interaction,” says Orbison. CapeSpace also provides home workers with fast, reliable internet, a sought after commodity on the Cape.

In her time working for large real estate development companies, Orbison saw the popularity of shared workspaces skyrocket. “We started putting a version of shared workspaces in our conventional office buildings because they create nice feeders. Say you have a million square foot office building; we might take 50,000 square feet and split it up into smaller offices, furnish it, and give it some services like a receptionist, coffee machines, and Wi-Fi. It creates an entry point for clients who want to be in the building but maybe they’re not ready. The idea is that if we do our job right and we nurture these companies, they graduate to become long term tenants,” describes Orbison of her first experiences with shared workspaces. Through working on these projects, she learned a lot about the process and when it came time to start a new life on the Cape, opening CapeSpace was a natural fit. After meeting with the town boards and appropriate channels, she found there was a serious interest and need for a place like CapeSpace. “I decided that yes, this is what I’m going to do; this is my new career,” she says.

CapeSpace has something for everyone, as Orbison describes, “what we do is really split up into four categories.” Furnished, private offices are available by the hour, day, month or long-term. “The majority of private offices are rented to permanent occupants, for whom this is their permanent solution,” she explains. Conference rooms are available for those who may need a larger space or who just want to meet off-site.  “A number of different sizes and styles of conference rooms that can be rented by the hour or the day are available, all fully equipped with presentation equipment and everything you need to run a meeting,” she says.  The “co-working space” is what shared spaces like CapeSpace are really known for. Designed like an open plan office space, the co-working floor consists of open desks where members just need their phones and their laptops to be as productive as possible. “It works a little bit more like a gym,” she laughs.  Members pay a fee and can use the space as they need. The last service offered is a little different, what Orbison calls “virtual offices” which provides members with a cloud based mailbox. The service provides members with a commercial street address and the ability to manage their mail through an app, as well as other services.

Orbison and CapeSpace show no sign of slowing down, with plans to expand to new locations and provide more people with the resources they need to further their businesses and careers. Orbison says, “I believe that everything can be done better, and I wanted to start a business to help people do that because being on your own can be daunting. There are a lot of resources here for people who want to go out on their own, there are great places for people to meet and network, but we’re giving them more of a house, a brick and mortar home. Our goal is to continue to be a solution for people who are trying to do things on their own.”

“We’re providing more than just space; we’re providing real options and resources for clients.”

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Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth Shaw is a former assistant editor, photographer & videographer for Cape Cod Life Publications. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Elizabeth spent many summers on the Cape, before she and her family moved down full time in 2016. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island as a double major in Writing & Rhetoric and Film Media, and started at Cape Cod Life the following fall. In her free time, she takes as many pictures of her dog, Watson, as possible, in between beach trips.