New York City has over 60 co-working spaces, more than other city, according to a survey done by co-working website DeskMag.
Berlin comes in second with nearly 50. London, Tokyo, Barcelona, and San Francisco follow — all with more than 30 spaces.
“But what is co-working?” you ask. It’s a communal office space where freelancers, telecommuters, and entrepreneurs can come together to share a copy machine, avoid NYC’s high rents, and make business connections (and friends).
Technology has made it possible for more people than ever to work from anywhere. Combine that trend with the fact that more people are going out on their own, either willingly or because they’ve lost a full-time job, and you’ve got a nomadic workforce that wants to work when they choose.
When I went freelance, I thought working from home would be the answer. But the incessant soft scratching at my door (no, it wasn’t the cat, it was my 4 year old), among other things, made it impossible to concentrate and have proper adult telephone conversations. Then, lugging around my laptop from coffee shop to coffee shop and weathering dirty looks from café baristas (who are annoyed that I’d taken up a table for 4 hours) got old quickly.
Plus, it was lonely.
So I recently settled into a cubicle with good light at the Brooklyn Creative League. But I’ve “co-worked” elsewhere. Here’s a sampling and some tips on what to look for if you decide to give co-working a try:
Shared desks and pay per day
At Grind in midtown, it’s first come first serve. You can either pay by the month or swipe your pass and just pay by the day. The crowd seems to be mostly start-up, young, and techie. They serve delicious Intelligentsia coffee and the bright white modern décor promotes a feeling of “I am cutting edge”. On the downside, people sometimes talk loudly on their phones. A second location is opening downtown. It is sometimes open on weekends.
Family folks making it work
Brooklyn Creative League caters to established professionals mostly in their thirties and forties. I’ve met an architect, lawyer, non-profit consultant, graphic designer, children’s book author, and game developer. People work at cubicles and socializing is pretty minimal. But I’ve heard there is quite a bit of project collaboration. Things get more social on Salad Day (every Wednesday) when everyone contributes an ingredient to a buffet and founders Neil and Erin provide the lettuce. Pay by the month for your own desk or go part-time (40 or 80 hours a month) and reserve a desk online. Open on weekends.
Intimate and web driven
Greenpoint Co-working is run by Sara Bacon, a graphic designer with her own business, Command C.
The small space of about 12 workspaces feels very homey and has a group of regulars, including Sara’s dog Sushi. That means a friendly atmosphere — but with one large room, you’ll know when the restroom is occupied. Pay by the day or month. No weekend hours.