Simon Harriyott

Shared Office Space

For the last 3 months or so, I've been working from home, and I've loved it. The flexibility, the commute, and the better family life are huge advantages, but the biggest disadvantage, for me anyway, is the loss of office life. I'm working in my spare room, which is small, contains a bed, an open wardrobe and a small table and chair. It needs painting, and the sun shines in mercilessly, so I have to close the curtains. Some days I don't leave the house, and other days I may not see my family until the afternoon. After a couple of months, the novelty started wearing off, and despite the advantages, I was feeling lonely.

As I'm now getting into twitter, I twittered my loneliness, for no other reason than I fancied telling anyone who would listen. I was surprised when @richardvahrman replied, generously offering me a desk in his office. I spent the next day in a lovely office in Hove overlooking the sea, and had a very productive time. There were 5 of us working in the office, and nobody working for the same company (the others rent desk space from Richard). It seemed like good old office life again, with long periods of companionable, busy silence, interspersed with the occasional techy discussion or general banter.

I was also invited to The Werks, also in Hove, so I went along a week or so later. The Werks is just brilliant. It's a co-working office, where people turn up and work. (Generally it seems to be people like me who work with laptops, rather than people who work with pneumatic drills.) I turned up quite early, and I was the only one there, so I just plugged my laptop in, connected to the wi-fi and got to work. Before long, a couple more people turned up, some who I knew from various Brighton geek events, and some strangers. We all sat round the same table, busying away, with the occasional chat, and sharing advice when appropriate. Again, a really productive environment, as it felt like being at work, as opposed to being at home. I've been back once since, and it was just as good.

There are a few different ways of doing it, which are priced accordingly. Occasional use (couple of times a month) is free (with contributions welcome), 2-3 days a week costs £60p/m, which seems very reasonable. So let's say that's 12 days a month, that makes it a fiver per day. An excellent alternative to renting an office. It's possible to rent a fixed desk and move in too, so there's a good mix of people there.
18 April 2008