Spotlight on Coworking: Is it for you?
Six months ago, I decided to transform my 'mommy needs to lose a few pounds' weight loss blog into a social media helper service. I honestly didn't think it would take off like it did. I just wanted to help the mom and pop restaurant down the street get those good reviews on facebook up and maybe get a menu online. It didn't take me long to realize that LOTS of people needed my help.
While the kids were at school and I was slaving away at the kitchen table, things kept jumping out at me. Dishes screaming "WASH ME!" Toys begging to be picked up. The nagging thought of the laundry needing be in the wash while I typed away. After about a month of this, I told my ever supportive husband that I needed to get out of the house! He was like, 'Yeah? Take your laptop to Starbucks or something.' So, I did.
The first day, I sat facing the windows. Bad idea! I was distracted by every Tom, Dick, and Barbara who walked through the door. Day two was better. I sat with my back to the door with my music on. I got a bunch done, but I felt like I should be buying more coffee as my first cup emptied. What is the coffee-to-time ratio? Are they watching how long I stay? What if I become the annoying freeloader? So, I bought another coffee. I went home and told my husband about my day. His advice, "If you are going to pay $10 a day to work, you might as well rent an office." Good Point, Hun.
So, that night I started to research workspaces for rent in the area. I came across a place right up the street called ScribbleSpace. They had cubicles for rent, as well as a shared coworking space. The pictures made it look so....COOL! Mind you, I am 30-something...a millennial by the skin of my teeth. The thought of working at a hip place appealed to me. (I understand that saying the word hip in fact makes me not hip.) So, the next day I went to check it out.
I pulled into the cul-de-dac at the end of the street and walked up. It's orange umbrella table instantly gave it a sense of energy. The door and windows were plastered with upcoming event flyers. As I walked in the door, there was a cool dividing wall/art piece. I checked in with the lady at the front window who gave me a free pass for the day.
The room was empty. Bummer. I was looking forward to a dozen worker bees with earbuds jamming invisible music. There was a counter on the right with really tall office chairs. To the left were 2 conference rooms and an old fashioned phone booth. I found out later that this is a soundproof booth for phone calls. Cool!
In the middle of the room was a floor to ceiling while column with tables all the way around. Each place setting had dividers on either side. I picked a chair at the center table, unpacked my things, and settled in. Before I knew it, my phone was buzzing at me and my husband was asking how my day had gone.
Wait, What?!? What time is it? Oh Crap, the kids!!!!!
Yeah, I had gotten in the zone and lost track of time. I rushed off, picked up the kids, and started thinking about what had happened. The work environment was so peaceful, distraction-free, and easy going that getting work done was easy! The only problem...Where were the people?
I have been a member of this coworking space for going on 5 months now and I think I have figured out the answer. With the exception of 2-3 regulars, people don't think it is worth the membership fee to come in. They think they can go to the local bakery or coffee shop and save money. If you go every day but order nothing that could be true. However, if you want to be a good patron and earn the approval of the baristas, you need to make a purchase. It is just the way of things. They are unknowingly nickel and diming themselves beyond the coworking membership fee! Also, free wifi and a cup of coffee seem like a fancy idea. I thought so too at first. However, if you need concentrated time with no distractions to get stuff done, the coffee shop might not be for you. If you are like me, when I leave my morning work session, I don't get to return to my laptop again until after 9 PM (aka kiddie bedtime). I need to optimize work time! Also, they don't know the peace that comes with a soundproof booth, pristine bathroom, and tribe of other home dwellers. I love my coworking space. I wouldn't go back to coffee shop working for anything!