I work from home. To some people, this sounds like the ultimate dream, and in some ways, it is. Right now, I’m wearing a comfy old sweater, and my hair is a mess—and it doesn’t matter, because the only one who can see me is my dog.
And working from home also has it’s downsides. I don’t have any coworkers to chat with when I need a break, and if I want coffee, I have to make it myself. Working where you live can also be incredibly distracting, if you have a sink full of dishes, a pile of dirty laundry, and several episodes of good TV waiting on your DVR. When I have a lot of work, my place looks like a tornado swirled through it, leaving junk mail, used mugs, and socks everywhere. When it gets like this, I would love to have a real office to go to, even just for a day or two.
Coworking spaces have always sounded like a great idea to me. A temporary office that I only pay for when I need it? Yes, please!
The websites for places like WeWork, which currently has 151 locations in 35 cities, show bright, airy offices where hardworking twenty-somethings smile at their laptops. In other photos, friendly-looking people play foosball in the common area or chat over coffee in the kitchen. Could coworking really be that great?
Well my dog and I spent a day at WeWork’s Hollywood location, and those photos are a pretty accurate depiction of our experience.
The good stuff about coworking:
When I arrived, I was shown into an open area with an assortment of modern furniture and plenty of available seating, including several long tables equipped with powers strips. It’s sort of like working in a coffee place, but without the annoying struggle to find a seat or an outlet. I picked a random day to visit, and I got lucky: WeWork was holding a Lunch and Learn presentation that day near where I was seated, so I picked up some marketing tips while eating a free sandwich.
Later in the day, a woman walked around handing out free popcorn as a snack. Snack companies must see WeWork as a good way to reach new customers, because a woman nearby said free snacks were a regular occurrence. The rest of the day, there was free coffee available in the kitchen, free beer on tap, and free fruit-infused water.
I’m an introvert, so I didn’t talk much to my fellow coworkers, but I loved the energy in the air. It felt like they were all busy making things happen, and it helped me be more productive on my own projects. (Plus, all of my chore-related distractions were a twenty-minute drive away.)
I had my little Maltese with me, and worked with him on my lap. There were a few other dogs around, but they were all pretty quiet. I didn’t see a water bowl anywhere, so at one point, I let Stitch drink some of the fruit-infused water from my glass. He looked at me like, “This is amazing!” and I felt the same way. WeWork took better care of me than I take of myself!
The practical details of coworking:
WeWork membership starts at $45/month, which only includes one day of coworking space. (Additional days are $50/day.) There are other, cheaper coworking spaces out there, so shop around and see what’s available in your neighborhood. I had to drive to WeWork and pay to park in a lot, which took more time and energy than my usual commute of simply rolling out of bed.
I feel like for me, it’s hard to justify paying for a coworking space, since I do get plenty of work done at home on a regular basis. I’ll probably only do it in the future if I’m desperate to be around people. At times, working from home gets pretty lonely.
A regular coworking membership would definitely appeal to me if I had a roommate I needed time away from, or if I was staying with friends while traveling, and wanted to give them their space while I got some work done.
They also seem like a great place for networking, since many host events for members at lunchtime or in the evening. Some coworking spaces have specific membership requirements, which means you’ll already have something in common with the people you’re meeting. A few examples:
- The Wing is a women-only coworking space and social club in New York City that asks prospective members to fill out a detailed questionnaire.
- Hera Hub focuses on supporting female entrepreneurs.
- Impact Hub connects people who want to have a positive impact on the world.
I love the idea of a coworking space that brings together like-minded individuals, so I’m going to see what else I can find in Los Angeles. For now, if I want to work from somewhere else, I’ll stick with WeWork and their delicious fruit-infused water. They’re about to open a new location that’s even closer to my house!
pin it, lady!
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