Most of my life I have been an entrepreneur or freelancer. I’m not someone who accepts other people’s opinion over mine, merely because their job title says I should. I’m okay with being the boss, having a boss isn’t really my thing.
This bossless life means that I have often worked from home, which has its downsides. I’m an easily distracted person, and for me a good home is a collection of distractions. Which is why my apartment is a nice home, but it’s not much of an office.
The home office
An office needs to feel comfortable, but more importantly it should encourage me to work. What it shouldn’t do is; encourage me to pet my sick cat, catch the last 15 minutes of a mountain stage of the Tour or make a snack. But unfortunately, my home has that effect on me. So clearly a home office doesn’t really work for me.
So what’s the alternative? Rent an office space somewhere, furnish it, set up Internet, and probably get tied into a multiple-year contract? I’ve done that, and I’m not a real fan. Besides, I live in Amsterdam, so space isn’t cheap here. But if I don’t want the home office, nor the fixed office space, what’s left?
The flex office
The rise of Internet and mobile connectivity has made big changes in how businesses operate. Nowadays your mail, the company’s front desk and a personal assistant fit in your pocket. So both entrepreneurs and employees have started working more from home, the “road” and flex offices.
Especially these flex offices are interesting. I recently tried WeWork, which offers shared workspace. This means that you basically sit down at a (designated or not) desk, turn on your laptop and you’re ready to go. All the amenities are in place, so you already have Internet, a printer, a receptionist, conference rooms, a coffeemaker, etc.
I live in the center of Amsterdam, so my preferred means of transportation is a sporty bicycle. I also have a city-friendly dirt bike, and even a bit of a car, but in Amsterdam my bike rules. Add a laptop bag and I’m ready to set up office wherever it’s needed. Because let’s be realistic, many of my contacts are in Amsterdam, but mostly they’re on the other end of my phone, mail server or Skype.
I recently tried WeWork Amsterdam. Their location at the Weteringschans is actually just a 6-minute-walk from my home, but I take the bike anyway. That way I can always take detours and add little workouts to my daily routine.
Taking WeWork for a test drive
WeWork puts much emphasis on being a community. This makes sense, because it’s nice to be under the same roof as possible suppliers, contractors and clients. Right now that sense of community isn’t my main concern, but I understand the merits. Another advantage of WeWork is, that if my work should take me back to Miami or New York, I’d have the local WeWork to my avail. I may not need this right now, but it’s good to have.
I know there are other spots that offer flexible work environments. Spaces is a good example, but there are also many foundations that offer temporary space in buildings that would otherwise be abandoned, buildings like former schools. All of those are nice, but right now I don’t feel much of a need to look elsewhere. The reason is very simple, for me WeWork strikes the perfect balance between comfort and encouragement.
I’ve tried WeWork for a month, and tried alternatives for the month after. And I’ve noticed that WeWork works for me. The place is inviting enough to want to go to the office, but not distracting enough to hurt my productivity. It has a great atmosphere, which actually inspires me to work.
I may not have done much networking there yet, but I had a lot of work to do, and this environment was great for that. Maybe that’s a bit more “MeWork” than the community concept was intended for, but it works for me. And if it works don’t fix it…
For more info, please check the WeWork website