I've been following this whole coworking thing for a while now. My interest took a brief hiatus earlier this year due to the birth of our son, but—in past weeks—it's creeping back. As you may or may not know, I telecommute as part of my job, and have done so for more than three years, first with Sun Microsystems and—since July of last year—with Yahoo! Inc.
In that time, I've learned a lot about distance working (some of which I hope to start sharing here: no deep insight, just some tips, tricks and maybe bullet-lists.) And I've learned that—for me—one of the hardest parts of working from home is staying motivated day in and day out.
When I first started with Sun, I thought that avoiding distractions would be the hard part. It is but it's not the hardest part: I've had some very distraction-filled days that managed to be incredibly productive ones. And I've had wide-open, quiet, distraction-free days where I couldn't manage to get anything done.
I think what I really miss on those days is the energy and 'mental white noise' that comes from putting on the headphones, putting your head down, and engaging in prolonged work in the midst of a group of folks who are doing the same thing.
I love being at home with my dogs, the wife and new arrival Edison, but the kind of energy that emanates off of them is very different than that other, productive, creative and motivating energy that I'm thinking of. My infrequent trips to the Yahoo campus are a good way to recharge those batteries I do pay a steep fine in the form of travel-time, jetlag, and physical exhaustion. (Plus, of course, time away from my family.)
It'd be nice to get a regular dosing of that energy, maybe 2 or 3 days a week outside the home. Without the overhead of a round-trip flight to California every week.
This is what intrigues me about the idea of coworking. And what seems to intrigue a whole lot of folks.
So, I think, in coming weeks I'm going to get a little more serious about investigating options for coworking in the Columbus area. If that means creating some opportunities, then so be it.
My first order of business will be to visit some existing coworking facilities. Fortunately, I've got some travel coming up that will put me in close proximity to a couple different coworking spaces (which is ideal—I really want to get a sense for a couple of different spaces: how they're laid out; who runs them; cultural differences and similarities.)
I was excited to hear that Yahoo! University Hack Days will have a couple different locations close to me this year (well... if you call a 4-hour drive "close.") I'll be helping out at the CMU stop in Pittsburgh, and in Champaign-Urbana at UIUC. I've had the pleasure of participating in one internal Hackday (yeah, only one—I've been lame, and... that 'new baby' thing again.)
So I think the campus days will be a blast, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the outcome of all that youthful creativity. Should be fun!
The Pittsburgh trip may also put a visit to the Thinktank on my agenda. It seems like the best way to really get a feel for a coworking space would probably be to put in a good solid day of work from the space. So I may be doing that, or I may just try to arrange a walkthrough with the space owner, Tom.
There seems to be interest, but no action in the Champaign-Urbana area, but, of course, I also visit the San Francisco Bay Area frequently, home to a buncha buncha coworking spaces. So I'll probably make a longer-than-usual visit out there later in the year and try to spend a half-day or two working out of Citizen Space or The Hat Factory.
So that's all for now: I'm investigating the idea of starting a coworking space here in Columbus; I'm going to visit a few to get some ideas and inspiration; I'll probably coordinate and publicize a meetup in the next couple months, possibly early December. If you're a Columbus local and think you'd be interested in helping out (in any capacity, or even if you'd just like to use a coworking space, not necessarily organize one) then please leave a comment, or go over to the Columbus Coworking page and leave an edit there.