April 12, 2017

"Creating 702WI was a bit of an experiment for Morgan, who mused, 'If you build it, will they come?'"

"It is the first coworking space of its kind in Madison, so only time will tell if the writers’ refuge will succeed. But as a multipurpose space, Morgan has hope it will be a place that people enjoy."

If you write — outside of job that provides you with a workspace — why wouldn't you just write at home? I'm wondering, as I write in my workspace at home, which I love now and preferred even before retiring from a job that included a nice office.

1. Your home might be unsuitable. Too small. Too noisy.

2. Psychologically, you might need (or want) to leave the house and have the feeling of going to work, giving the day some structure, to keep you from drifting and floating and feeling that your work is everything and, simultaneously, nothing.

3. You want co-workers — people you see every day, colleagues — in your life. It's not the same thing as having friends. Friends you see when and if you want to see them, and there's always the question whether you want to see them, whether they're worth the effort, whether they're good enough friends. Co-workers are different, though not necessarily in a good way. If a particular co-working space has a great group, it's worth a lot. If it's new, weird people to annoy you — and I think the best writers have a high capacity to give and feel annoyance — then you've got a problem. (And you might be the problem.)

4. It costs money — $200 a month if you commit for a year — but you're getting WiFi. Cut off your WiFi at home, save money, and make home more of a refuge.

5. ???

35 comments:

TosaGuy said...

What I love about working from home is that I don't have to board the dog and gives me an excuse to step outside a few times and toss the tennis ball around for a few minutes.

We both enjoy that.

David Baker said...

Just a reminder: If you have a smart phone, you already have a constant hot-spot (settings>more>tethering>hotspot). No need to pay twice for Wi-Fi.

rhhardin said...

Just go to the library.

dda6ga dda6ga said...

Pencil, paper, public library....then use a typing service (they do still exist, usually moms working at home))

David said...

My son in law co founded a writers workplace in SF called The Grotto. He did it for pretty much the reasons you set forth, plus his generational imperative, networking. It's been a huge success and has an interesting stable of writers.

tim in vermont said...

I would have paid $200 a month in a heartbeat. Worked from home basically writing for the past 15 years.

exiledonmainstreet said...

I'd say why not go to a library, except at a public library today, the person sitting next to you might be a homeless guy watching porn on the computer, so I can see why that's not an appealing option. Some writers have been able to write in cafes or coffeeshops, others require absolute quiet, some might get squirrelly confined to their house or apartment all day - if this works for them, why not?

When I was in college, I did most of my studying and writing (in longhand!) in the union cafeteria than I did in the library. The absolute silence of the library somehow bothered me. I am still like that. I prefer reading outside, or, in the winter, at a coffeeshop, with background noise that I can shut out, to reading in a silent bedroom.

tim in vermont said...

Should I have sought alternatives to the cliche? Not while using my phone, too much work... D'oh!

Freeman Hunt said...

You might want to go work somewhere because your family is distracting; you know that they are also at home and want to be with them. But then, your fellow office people might be even more distracting, not because you want to be with them but because they might keep talking to you.

TosaGuy said...

I am curious about the rules. Who cleans the place? -- Noise/Music rules? Can I balance out the drone of NPR with some Rush Limbaugh? Or would that violate somebody's safe space?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

5. Opportunities for: Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? I tell you, I gotta plead ignorance on this thing, because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing is frowned upon... you know, cause I've worked in a lot of offices, and I tell you, people do that all the time.

Ann Althouse said...

"I am curious about the rules. Who cleans the place? -- Noise/Music rules? Can I balance out the drone of NPR with some Rush Limbaugh? Or would that violate somebody's safe space?"

Beyond that: how do they control who gets in? Can they discriminate -- do they want to discriminate -- against people who don't have their kind of politics or who look bad or old? Do they charge everyone the same amount or would they let some writers use the space cheap or free? I would think the success of the place would depend on the quality of the group that was assembled and I don't think that will correspond closely to the ability/willingness to pay $200 a month. If someone who looked and acted like an interesting writer wanted free access, what would happen? What about someone with high value in networking? What about an old-school surly writer who hates your chirpy networking -- if he paid his $200 a month, would he be able to wreck the ambience?

I have no idea what the legal rules are here. Just asking questions.

Scott M said...

Aside from the outright introverts, a lot of writers daydream about this sort of thing from time to time. Most I know (myself included) would do it if you could pick the people you shared the space with. If I could have such a place where my writer's group worked and met for $200 a month, the camaraderie and opportunity for feedback would create a lot of cross-pollination that would likely be greater than the sum of it's parts.

BUT...and it's a big bootie-sized butt...that's the pie-in-the-sky version of this shared workspace.

Scott M said...

Just go to the library.

The problem with this is that the library is full of readers, not writers :)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Psychologically, you might need (or want) to leave the house and have the feeling of going to work, giving the day some structure, to keep you from drifting and floating and feeling that your work is everything and, simultaneously, nothing.

#2 was the most important to me when I was, briefly between two companies, working from my home office instead of an official office location. My work involved other people, clients being present, so that may have something to do with it.

When at home, even though I had a nice home office with a separate entrance, I felt torn between "working" as in my professional capacity, and working as in my homebody capacity.

I was always torn between feeling the need to do the professional stuff and then noticing that there were other things around the house,yard,crafts,cooking etc that I either felt that I needed to do...... or actually really wanted to do more than the stressful professional things. Would I rather work up a portfolio analysis for a client and create a financial plan .....or.....ohhhhh. bake a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I felt guilty, because I really should be crunching those numbers, instead of chopping walnuts. Gah! Torn!

I couldn't focus properly on either and therefore I didn't get either done efficiently. A separate space for work and a structured day was essential to my getting anything done.

buwaya said...

Cheap office space for self employed or work-remotely or road-warrior people living three to a studio apartment.
$200/month is worth it for such I think. Its very cheap vs the overhead of regular office space even if its just bullpens.

One key benefit is a place to do phone calls - conference calls, tech support, cold calls, etc. plus a reliable mailbox/package delivery location.

We have quite a few work-remotely and road-warrior people and if they had such a location handy I would spring for it.

Robert Cook said...

"Just a reminder: If you have a smart phone, you already have a constant hot-spot (settings>more>tethering>hotspot). No need to pay twice for Wi-Fi."

That depends on your carrier and your plan, (and, possibly, your smartphone).

I don't have a "setting>more>tethering>hotspot" on my smartphone,(iPhone 6+, ATT).

DKWalser said...

Cowork offices are growing in popularity. It seems that our younger generations crave being in a crowd. Sure, it might seem like they never talk to each other -- preferring to text rather than talk, but they seem to want to gather in groups to text each other. Also, they like being to bounce ideas off their peers. The often prefer working in a cubical or a large table shared with others to working in an office. So, cowork arrangements work for them. I much prefer an office with a door that I can close. Better still is working from my home office.

Why the generational difference? I don't know. Perhaps it is that I grew up in a large, active, family and I came to crave solitude for thinking and working. Maybe smaller family sizes has had an affect on how we want to interact at work?

Unknown said...

To meet girls.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Cowork offices are growing in popularity.

I thought about one of those set ups. Where you have a central hub central lobby for the receptionist who basically is shared by the various businesses. That person acts as a gatekeeper, answers the phone, takes messages etc so that each business doesn't need to have a separate receptionist. Everyone shares the cost of personnel and cost of the building.

However, my clients really want and needed to have their privacy and would have felt uncomfortable in a multi-business waiting room situation. So I opted out.

Achilles said...

Look at it more like a Gym membership. You go to a place where you want to get stuff done and there are other people there trying to get the same stuff done. Social contacts and peer interaction are a bonus.

Ann Althouse said...

"Look at it more like a Gym membership. You go to a place where you want to get stuff done and there are other people there trying to get the same stuff done...."

They suddenly yell for no good reason.

David Baker said...

@Robert Cook:

This YouTube video shows how to enable the HotSpot on iPhone 6+ ...

David Baker said...

Robert Cook said... "That depends on your carrier and your plan..."

Highly unlikely, even regarding AT&T.

Your plan - regardless - includes the hot-spot. For a carrier to offer less is the equivalent of adopting United Airlines recent marketing "plan."

In any case, I'm not aware of any carrier that blocks it's customer's smartphone hot-spot ability.

David Baker said...

..."it's/its"

Jack Wayne said...

I do my best writing at Hooters. Don't forget that Das Capital was written in a library....

Graham Powell said...

A number of people in my writing group prefer to get out of the house to write. Starbucks seems to be the venue of choice for most of them.

Michael said...

WeWork is a wildly overvalued company that has been very successful with renting shared workspace. Reserved desk spaceis more expensive than first come first served space. Private offices the most expensive. Cool design, free beverages, opportunity to network.

Michael said...

The company cleans the place. Nobody is listening to music or news except through headphones. Nobody us shouting for no reason.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I would very happily pay $200 a month for a desk in an office that is not my house. And I'm a homemaker. With a home office that has a door that closes. I don't have a paying job but I still need to process information and think--write, plan, make lists, correspond, schedule--which is a challenge to do in a house full of domestic distractions. I used to do a babysitting swap with a friend and had a morning a week to myself which I would generally spend in Starbucks with a file tote and my laptop. I found it much easier to focus being alone in a crowd rather than being alone in my house, where I would constantly feel the pull to go stir the chili, move the laundry along or clean up that hairball I just heard the cat hack up.

Clay Spinuzzi said...

There's been a lot of research on coworking spaces and coworker motivations in the last five years or so. I immodestly recommend this 2012 study of spaces in Austin: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1050651912444070

John said...

I work from an office in my home, though I also spend a lot of time on the road and at client sites.

For the past 20 years I've been doing a lot of writing and currently publish a couple thousands words a month in addition to severl other writing products that are in process.

I find it very hard to write in my office. Too many distractions. I do best going to McDonalds and writing there. I don't find that the background noise distracts me. I never liked Starbucks because 1) I can't reliably get a decent cup of coffee there and I am not into coffee flavored beverages 2) I like the large booth tables at McDs so I can spread out a bit.

I would love an opportunity for a center like this. It seems perfect for me. Two caveats:

No networking. I am there to write, not to hang out with people. I think there should be a rule no talking or interacting within the space. If you want to network, go outside. Or have a separate room.

Pricing. $200/month seems like a great price if I am going to be there 40 hours a week. Maybe even too low. OTOH, I would be using it 2-4 hours at a time, 2-4 times a week. I'd like to see some kind of annual fee, say $300-500. Then an hourly fee for when I am actually using it. Maybe $3-4 hour.

$200/month seems like too much for the way I would use it.

Marc Puckett said...

When I read this post before work this morning, I had time to search about for such coworking places here in Eugene: there are at least three in the downtown area, and that $200 per month fee is at the high end of the range. One or two of them charge on the basis of anticipated use (e.g. 10 hours a week or 40), one or two of them more loudly sing the praises of their usefulness for 'networking', all three charge their top prices for the use of a reserved desk (as opposed to sofa or chair-at-a-table space &c &c. Three constants seemed to be stellar wireless or fiber optics cable Internet access, 'free' coffee, and the fact that the place is closed outside of more or less usual business hours.

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Zach said...

I've written a few papers from outside the office, and found it's much easier to work away from home.

I find it's easier to get into a work frame of mind if I physically leave the apartment. Home is for sleeping and relaxing. Work is done outside the home.

That tendency is much, much worse when you're in a house with other people. Somehow it's hard to persuade people that you're going into a room now and you don't want to be bothered by anything at all for a few hours -- no snacks, no dogs, no interesting conversations.