Coworking Spaces Combat the Work-At-Home Blues
As freelancing becomes the new normal, the benefits of shared-work environments are undeniable.
Located at 80 Maiden Lane in Lower Manhattan, the Freelancers Union Halll is a coworking space open to all union members.
Courtesy the Freelancers Union
Working from home has its perks—flexibility, fewer distractions, and economic savings on things like gas and lunch. Yet, with freedom comes sacrifice.
About one fourth of stay-at-home employees report high levels of loneliness. In fact, workers who telecommute often lose the face-to-face interaction with peers that an office affords. To avoid feelings of isolation many are opting to join shared working environments. Equipped with the amenities of a typical office, coworking spaces are popular among freelancers, entrepreneurs, and independent contractors seeking quiet, well-connected spaces beyond the home.
“Having a space to go to and a community of people doing the same thing does amazing things for people’s productivity,” says Nikki Grinberg, office manager at 42 West 24—one of the first spaces in the country to offer the coworking experience before the office trend became “in vogue.” Located in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, the shared loft opened its doors in 1999 to individuals or teams looking to rent a desk or office on a month-by-month basis. Six years later, shared-work environments doubled in size with the amount of spaces totaling about 800 today.
Much like the multifaceted jobholders who work in them, coworking offices come in various sizes and offer varying levels of luxuries. For example, Boston-based Oficio’s one-day or monthly rentals run the gamut. They offer a day pass, which grants access to a workspace and basic amenities, such as coffee, wifi, and the fax machine to full on private offices for teams of five plus professionals. Meanwhile, Gangplank in Arizona nixes monetary fees and offers free workspaces in exchange for helping out with projects, cleaning up after events or writing blog posts.
While the layout of choice for co-working environments is often the open-floor plan loft, shared spaces can be anywhere from quaint cottages to chain hotels. In the case of the latter, the Marriot introduced its Workspace on Demand service to increase traffic in its underutilized business center. Mobile workers can rent a meeting space in the hotel’s conference room or even at the bar. Other quirky rental spots for coworking include pop-up offices like Metalab’s SPACE shipping containers, IDEO’s self-driving car office, and even a futuristic solar powered mobile office pod by Mercury House One.
“There are so many options right now,” says Grinberg. “Gimmicks will come and go, but the core of coworking is the real and permanent need for people to be able find a place to set up shop and get things done.”
As freelancing becomes the new normal, it’s safe to say that co-working offices are here to stay.