It has been nearly two months now since me and the rest of Refactr LLC have been out on our own and participating in the great experiment that is virtual officing. We have been using spaces such as coffee shops and libraries to meet and conduct our business. We have tried many locations and it works well when we have meetings in one part of the cities or another to just move around like nomads. It is very nice to have low overhead costs and use the three things we need: Internet access, electricity, and a table — all for the cost of a few lattes and maybe a bran muffin.
We find that it is great to get out of the house and work together, and have not missed a day of meeting, usually at 8am once we went out on our own.
However, like many things in life, the little jagged parts — issues that at first seemed pretty minor, begin to rub you the wrong way (or the same way but in the same spot repeatedly) until finally you can’t take it any more. In actuality, coffee shops are not free as each of the three of us has consistently spent between $25 and $50 per week on coffee, tea, and snacks. That adds up ($300-$600/month). Then we have to always cart all of our stuff in and out each day. We can’t bring too many books in our our good headphones. Bringing outside food is also, either awkward (rude to the establishment) or impractical (no refrigerator or microwave) so there are additional costs for lunch (both monetary and time-wise).
No wonder, so many start-ups or freelancers look to get together in a more permanent space using ideas described and put into in the form of things like CoWorking and Bucketworks.
These endeavors haven’t been easy as the headlines show — Saint Paul’s “Ren Box” in need of rescuing. I think that a primary problem is a lack of a person who devotes most of his/her time to it. I believe it really takes a lot of administration to do something like this, and people don’t get into this to be administrators.
Garrick wrote a summary of this topic a while back as well.
Now my friend Justin Grammens at Atomic Objects, is restarting the discussion for the Twin Cities. I am excited to see what comes of it.