Work and Play Is Reimagined at Groundfloor
During year two of the pandemic, Groundfloor co-founder Jamie Snedden continued to work from home, and many of us still find a corner of our homes to clock in and out of each day. But when your only in-office co-worker is a golden doodle, a longing for human interaction takes hold. Unsurprisingly in 2021, 61 percent of young adults in America reported feeling serious loneliness.
“One of the things I learned is that 75 percent of meaningful friendships or long-term relationships in people’s lives start — or started pre-Covid — in a physical workspace,” says Snedden, who began spending days at WeWork offices or coffee shops in an effort to curb the loneliness of staring at a screen alone all day. He called up a friend, other co-founder Jermaine Ijieh, with an idea — to create a space specifically designed for building meaningful friendships.
Groundfloor launched its first location in March of 2022 in San Francisco’s Mission District — in a stunning (surely a nod to Snedden’s background in architecture) 4,000-square-foot storefront space equipped with a lounge and partial kitchen area, library, wellness studio and outdoor terrace gym. Inside you’ll find people who represent the city they live in, building friendships, joining “sub clubs” (member-run clubs for activities like sailing, trying new foods or playing board games), hosting events, working their day jobs, practicing yoga or just hanging out.
“I think we’ve built something that people are really passionate about and they love,” says Snedden, who mentions that diversity is a top priority (membership is 42 percent people of color and 65 percent female), but in all sorts of different ways. This being a San Francisco social club, you might expect techies to have taken over, but Snedden emphasizes that only 30 percent of the members work in tech; the other 70 percent is artists, lawyers, dancers, teachers and other professions. “We’re seeing real friendships forming, connections that would never happen otherwise.”
Social clubs of the past were the epitome of exclusion — you had to look a certain way or make a certain amount to even be considered. But that’s not how Groundfloor operates. Here’s how it works: the application takes roughly three minutes to complete and costs $20, which is refundable should you change your mind and is put toward the first month’s membership should you join.
Then there’s an interview process in which Snedden says they never ask potential members what they do for work: “That’s pretty easy information for us to find out. We concentrate on what are you looking to get out of this? We find out almost every person truly wants a sense of friendship rather than access to a beautiful space to work or the gym.”
Once accepted, members pay a monthly $200 fee, which is month to month and can also be discounted dependent on income. As a new member, you’re given a buddy and a lunch cohort, ensuring no one feels intimidated or alone in the space designed to be the opposite.
Nevertheless, Groundfloor isn’t taking in just any applicant. The Mission location is officially at max capacity, only accepting new members on a one-in, one-out basis, which is causing Snedden and Ijieh to look beyond S.F. New and just-as-gorgeous locations in Oakland and Marin County are set to launch in 2023, aimed at communities in desperate need of a place like this. As Groundfloor expands, members will be welcome in any of the locations, any time.
More locations, more members, more friends. Ultimately, Groundfloor is designed to be a place where meaningful friendships bloom like flowers, from the ground up.