I usually work in my home office. Ok, it’s a little desk in the corner of the little living room in the little apartment that I share with my hubby and teenage son. When son is out or at school and hubby is out or working at his little desk in the other corner of the living room, it works just fine.
Sometimes, though, I want a change of scenery. My local coffee shop has a great energetic vibe, wifi, lots of electric outlets, and very good coffee, so once in a while I head there to work.
Upsides of coffee shop working: The music, background chatter, and energy occupy the easily-distracted part of my brain, so I can concentrate on design. If I’m working with a friend, we can chat while we work. I can answer phone calls (although if they get long, I take the call outside).
The downsides of coffee shop working: small, sometimes wobbly, tables. Must buy drinks and/or food. Must pack up my computer if I need to use the restroom (no, I’m not leaving it unattended on the table). Too much noise means I can’t do certain work there, such as proofreading or very detailed work. I feel guilty if I stay too long when other people want the table, so I usually only last 2 hours or so.
Some coffee shops throw in other obstacles to working: limited wifi (some shut it off after a certain number of minutes or during lunchtime), no electric outlets, very wobbly tables (scary with my computer and coffee on the same table!), less-than-pleasant staff and atmosphere.
Sometimes I go to the library to work. Plusses: Bigger tables, free wifi, quiet, research materials all around. Minuses: Too quiet, can’t make or receive calls, scarce outlets.
As an alternative to coffee shops, I’ve tried a coworking space.
Coworking sounds great: sit with other creative people while you work independently! Toss ideas around and give and get feedback! Make friends with new folks! Network! Use the amenities provided by the coworking space: printers, copiers, coffee!
The one I’ve tried so far sounds great in theory. Pay $10 for a day pass, work around other creative people, use our printer and drink our coffee.
In practice, the coworking table isn’t too comfortable (and it’s shared with other folks on day pass), the office is quiet except that I can hear people in the closed offices and every noise stands out (like the door opening and slamming, over and over), and there is no interaction between workers. Even making a comment or talking quietly to another coworker seems to be frowned upon. It seemed like most people had big headphones on. And even though it’s an office, making or taking calls is out of the question. There isn’t a soundproof space to use, so I had to get up and go in the hall or outside (which means taking client calls without being able to reference things on the computer).
I checked out a different coworking space: it was filled with old folding tables and uncomfortable chairs and wasn’t enticing at all.
I have plans to try a new coworking space or revisit the previous one with a couple of friends. Maybe having friends with me will help put the “co” into coworking so it’s not just a “working” space.
Where do you work? What would you like in a coworking space?