30 Apr 10 // Lifestyle
Coworking from Home
By Adrienne Breaux Photos By Trevor Ray Thompson Issue Apr / May 2010 Neighborhood All
Get out of your pajamas and into a new state of mind. The freedom to sleep in, dress any way you want, and not have to fight morning traffic—working from home sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? With an economy in relatively uncertain territory, the number of people finding themselves without an office to travel to everyday is on the rise, as is the percentage of people who work from home.
Though many pitfalls can befall attempts to transition to a home-office (and even plague those who’ve been going at it solo for years), we’ve discoveredthe perfect way to find motivation and join a dedicated community of movers and shakers: Move your
home-office out of your home.
Distraction and lack of discipline are the main demons that doom most work-at-homers. Training yourself to wake up early, dress professionally (or even just put on pants), and stick to a work schedule is difficult; that’s where the global trend of coworking comes in.
Coworkers are home-office workers or freelancers who gather at shared spaces, creating a comfortable atmosphere by bringing a laptop and other essential items. Like a gym, you can pay a membership to use coworking spaces with features ranging from private desks to office equipment and coffee. Surrounded by other people with similar work values and goals, a big benefit of this trend is that you’re being held accountable for your work; fans swear they’re more efficient coworking than when isolated at home.
Conjunctured1309 East 7th Street
Currently, Austin boasts three excellent coworking spaces for creating your home-office away from home. Conjunctured came first, and was founded by four motivated young entrepreneurs: David Walker, Dusty Reagan, Cesar Torres, and John Metcalf. Situated in a charming older house on the East side, Conjunctured offers a cozy, vibrant, and youthful atmosphere, with a large public work space, lounge area, conference room, kitchenette with coffee and espresso makers, a quiet room, lockers, high speed internet, and bike racks.
You can use Conjunctured’s equipment (projectors, fax machine, and printer), host events, or use their address to receive business mail. Here, you’ll be able to park your laptop next to energetic members who frequent Conjunctured almost daily. At $250 a month, you can get 24-hour access to the space, or purchase a day pass for $25, and your first day of coworking is free.
Cospace911 West Anderson Lane
Cospace, Austin’s newest coworking site, finally offers North Austin residents a place to get work done. Enthusiastic founders Andrew Bushnell, Kirtus Dixon, and Pat Ramsey offer a streamlined, clutter-free coworking space with lots of natural light and ample parking, plus high speed internet, dedicated desks and offices, a large open work area, two conference rooms, high ceilings, lots of windows, and a lounge area and kitchenette with free coffee.
Cospace provides people with a great place to network, host events, and accomplish tasks; the energy is both engaging and relaxing. A monthly membership is $200, and different membership levels range from $50 to $300 a month—and the first day of coworking is always free.
When asked why he wanted to open such a unique professional resource, Dixon echoed the motivations behind all the founders of Austin’s growing collection of coworking spaces.
“That’s where our passions lie: networking, building relationships, building community, collaborating with others—we’re big on projects and ideas and start-ups. That’s our long term goal as entrepreneurs, to be a part of those things, here in Austin especially. We figured there was no better way to give ourselves and others that platform than to open a coworking space.”
Texas Coworking200 East 6th Street, Suite 301
Conveniently situated right in the heart of downtown Austin. Texas Coworking opened its doors on January 1st, 2010. Founded by two veterans of the tech community, Paul Terry Walhus and Blake Freeburg, Texas Coworking offers amenities like a reception area, large conference room, roof deck overlooking Sixth Street, server room, kitchen, free street parking, lots of available technology and equipment, a large common work area, and several private offices and cubicles—plus high speed internet.
Featuring exposed granite walls, big windows, and sleek technology, you’ll love the professional feel of this coworking space. Also priced at $250 a month (first day free, too), you can meet with clients in a quiet, convenient place, host an event, or just enjoy the hustle and bustle of urban Austin.
And let’s not forget the place where the idea of coworking first began—the coffee shop. Plenty of coworking fanatics still park themselves next to a latte every now and then, and Austin has plenty with free wi-fi to choose from. Just don’t settle for the closest location; find one that offers comfortable seating, easy outlet access, and a general population more interested in working than chatting. A few we like: Café Caffeine, Halcyon, Bennu Coffee (above left), Flight Path (above right), and Thunderbird Coffee.
So why change out of pajamas, leave the comfortable surroundings of your house, and trek over to a coffee shop or coworking site? Coworking’s undisputed main benefit is that it allows you to connect with other individuals from your community to discuss projects, overcome obstacles, and mutually inspire one another.
“It’s not just the talking to one another; it’s the inspiration you get from other people who are doing work. When the guy next to you closes a deal, suddenly you’ve got this surge of energy to do something equally as cool,” says Reagan.
Ask a question aloud while coworking, and without hesitation one or more fellow workers will jump to the challenge. The enthusiasm for work is infectious at these spaces, and the tools for inspiration and motivation are all around.
“I’ve never been around so many different, motivated—self-motivated—people who really love what they’re doing, are passionate about coming to work every day and are also passionate about sharing with other individuals. I get a lot of energy from that,” says Walker.
If the pitfalls of relying on a home-office have been getting the best of you, consider coworking. You don’t just have to be someone who works from home to participate; employees with side businesses, telecommuters, part time workers, retail owners, busy moms, even people currently looking for jobs all make great candidates for this efficient trend. Chances are whatever your profession or professional aspirations, there’s a spot in the coworking community for you.
If you’re thinking about stepping away from your home-office and venturing into the world of coworking, we’ve taken some of the fear and trepidation away by compiling suggestions from the founders of Conjunctured, Texas Coworking, and Cospace for the essential items you’ll need to complete your home office away from home. Be prepared and you’ll be ready and raring to go for your first day of coworking.
- Laptop and power cord
- Cell phone and charger
- Headphones :: “The mobile workers signal to ‘do not disturb,’” according to Reagan.
- Well-stocked iTunes library :: At Conjunctured, members can share their music across airport express with AirTunes.
- Pen and paper :: To jot down notes or brainstorm.
- Refillable water bottle
- Favorite tea, favorite drink :: Though coworking places provide lots of beverage choices.
- Hoodie or sweater :: In case you want to go on walk to clear your mind.
- Bike :: Or some other eco-friendly mode of transportation.
- Your own mug :: Should you see your coffee mug as an extension of your personality.
- Good attitude :: Come down and expect to interact with people, but not be totally distracted.
- Clear intention :: Do you want to just get stuff done, meet people, or just learn about coworking? Decide what you want to get out of your first coworking day before you go—you’ll get a lot more out of it if you plan ahead.