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Sort of a follow up to my post on remote work… I’ve continued to work from home full time since then. In general I think it is reasonably productive, but I will admit by the end of the day I’m usually ready to look at some other four walls. A friend of mine who also would otherwise work from home 100% has a membership at a local co-working space, so I decided to give it a try. They have a great trial membership deal – $55 for two weeks of unlimited access. The basic idea is in exchange for membership, you get access to the space (either a certain number of days per month, or full time), which includes a bunch of desks/tables, wifi, loaner external monitors, snacks/drinks, access to a kitchen, phone booths for remote meetings, conference rooms for in person meetings, and occasional social events for members. Desks/tables are first come first served, although you can pay more for a dedicated desk or even an office.

After trying it out, here are a few observations:

  • It is a nice change of pace to not be at home at least some of the time. I think my ideal usage would be a few hours a day, some number of days a week. Somehow just being in a space with other people working and some background noise seems to help me refresh my focus.
  • I don’t love the commute aspect even though it is only a couple miles away. Biking is a great option if the weather is ok. I tried walking but that takes too long and it isn’t really a very nice walk. Driving is do-able but this place is downtown so you either have to park in a garage and pay, or park a few blocks away (to get to streets with no meters).
  • Ergonomics can be challenging, or at least might require some planning and purchases. I took in a laptop stand and external keyboard (which I leave there), and bring an external mouse. The monitors they loan out are not very tall so if I decide to continue longer term I’ll need to get some kind of stand for those as well. Even with those items different chairs at the different desks can impact comfort somewhat.
  • It seems like it could be a way to help increase my local professional network, but only if I go to the social events and actually talk to people. If I can arrange to work there on some of the days my buddy is there, all the better.
  • In any case where a coworker (or several) would want to meet in person, bringing them in as guests would be far superior (and probably a lot cheaper) than renting a hotel conference room or something similar.
  • It’s fun to be downtown. Going for a short walk as a break down there has more to see than a stroll around my neighborhood. Also, if I want to get lunch out there are tons of options.

So, will I continue after my trial? I’m leaning towards yes. It is month to month so there is no real commitment. Will see how it goes.

UPDATE: One thing I neglected to mention is that going back to any office (coworking or otherwise) requires rehydrating some executive skills, like planning what all you need to take with (e.g. packing a lunch) and also being more deliberate about planning workouts either before or after work (the coworking space has a shower, but that just adds to the list of stuff I’d have to pack if I wanted to do a mid-day run).