Hello Peter what’s happening. I’m gonna need you to go ahead and come in tomorrow. So if you could be here at around….9 that’d be great.
Bill Lumbergh (Office Space, 1999)
I’ve worked in a large retail store, a small retail boutique shop, a huge cubicle farm, the edge of someone else’s desk, an open-air semi-walled cubicle farm, a count-my-tiles office, a collaborative space, at home, at clients’ offices, at coffee shops, and even in my car in the parking lot, stealing someone else’s WiFi. Having served my fair share of professional (and sometimes not-so-professional) roles in the last several years, I’ve had experience working in all manner of places and spaces.
There is one type of space I had not tried until recently: coworking. As a consultant, I’m typically at the client’s office, or wherever they need me to be. Occasionally, I’ll have meetings at various places – typically coffee shops – and at other times, I’ll be working at home. Each of these places, though, have their cons.
At the client/at the office. This belongs to the client or the company. Even if I work for them, this is their space. I go where they want to put me (at my last job, I moved so many times, I lost count at 24). I don’t get to complain or ask for anything special because I am there to do the work, not necessarily enjoy any office niceties. When you’re at the office, you don’t always get to customize it and you’re often at the mercy of whoever is around you. When you’re “at the office”, it’s not your space and you can’t necessarily hide when you need to get away and focus.
At the coffee shop. I love my dual monitors or my ultra-widescreen. I often have to have multiple things up at once to manage projects, write queries, track tasks, handle emails…you know, all that stuff. My laptop is great, but it can get pretty unwieldy trying to work off a compact screen and a small keyboard. At least I have my mouse (I don’t understand how the hell people can work without a mouse!). There’s a thousand people around at coffee shops – sometimes the grumpy old men’s club will get really mad if you take their table with the good space, the outlet, and the spot where the WiFi is the best. Depending on where you go, the coffee might be great, but the WiFi rarely is. I like the buzz of coffee shops just fine, but you can’t always work from coffee shops – unless you’re a screenwriter or whatever those people who always seem to be there during the day do.
At home. Geez, working from home. Again, WiFi is a problem. Plus, there’s only a billion things you need to get done if you’re there. The cats are all over you. Look, working at home? Only if you’ve got an awesome office and amazing internet – and no one else home. I can’t even do this justice – if you want to know about what it’s really like to work at home, read this article instead. Working from home – only when you need to.
Anyway, my point here isn’t to dog on all the various places there are in the world to work – sometimes you need all of them in different circumstances. But, every now and then, you need to get away and find a great space – a creative space, a collaborative space that is both comfortable and professional, but also as much your as it is others’. Coworking might just be that answer.
I have a nice desk at the client’s office. Because my consulting firm is virtual, we don’t have a home office – because we don’t need one! I have a decent setup at home. I like my coffee shop days, too. But lately, I’ve been enjoying my own spot, a dedicated desk, at Haven Collective. I have great WiFi. There’s coffee. I have a meeting room at my disposal for when I need it. I get to collaborate and network with other professionals to kick around ideas or knowledge share. It’s a neat, convenient space that isn’t necessarily something I need to call “the office” – and I get to get away from my team (sometimes you just need to). It’s some mixture of the best parts of a collaborative suite and a coffee shop (but without the snarky old men’s coffee club). It’s a space in between – and you know I love the whole “in between” theme…the coworking concept is catching quite a bit of steam across industries and it’s a perfect alternative to the office and my condo.
This is a real place and space that’s a home away from home…and the office.