Come Co-Work With Me

I think I've mentioned here before, in passing, that I've been working at Independents Hall three days a week for a couple months now. If I have not yet mentioned that it has SAVED MY REMOTE-EMPLOYEE LIFE, now's probably a good time to do so.

I was really starting to lose it as a remote employee, which is why I took a leap of faith and declared that 2009 would be the year I stopped working at home. I didn't know whether this would mean moving, quitting my job and finding something local, or some other thing I hadn't considered yet when I wrote that list of three resolutions, but within a couple days of writing them, I took my second leap of faith and sent in my Basic Membership agreement to Indy Hall.

I had no idea whether co-working would suit me, and as a social-phobic introvert, I was extremely nervous to even walk in the door that first day. I'm glad I did, however. I may have felt self-conscious and dorky for the first few minutes, but after that first day I was totally fine—and after two or three visits, I knew I wanted to upgrade to Lite membership, which would give me desk space 3x a week. When I upgraded, I also put myself on the waiting list for a Full membership, which would give me a permanent desk to clutter.

co-working @indyhall

There will still be days when I work at home because commuting across town to Indy Hall doesn't make sense—like I should have last Thursday, when both Al and the nanny were out of town, the bus I was on got stuck in a traffic jam, and I had to get off and run to pick up the Beaner from school before they started fining me... and I ended up tripping, ripping my jeans, skinning and bruising both knees, and missing most of a very important meeting because I couldn't hear what people were saying over the din of idling bus engines—but honestly, the commute is part of what I like about Indy Hall, and I'm looking forward to doing it every day starting in May. I LIKE getting out of my usual sphere, which doesn't extend much beyond City Hall to the east, Fairmount to the North, and Rittenhouse Square to the south, and hanging out in Old City. The restaurants, bars, and coffee shops here are all new and exciting to me, and I have some (physical) distance between my home life and my work life.

timmy in his tank

One of the things I like best about Indy Hall is that it's very much like working in the office in California—the only real difference is that the people I sit next to here aren't working for the same company I am. The place has the same startup feel that my California office has, possibly because there are actual projects/companies starting up at Indy Hall. I'm not sure that's all of the reason, though, as the community is made up of freelancers, remote employees, company owners, and others, not all of them Silicon Valley-geeky or startup-focused. I think the common thread is that we're all creatives—even the business guys. And we run the age gamut, too; I'm one of the graybeards at age 40, but I'm not the oldest.

I also like the mix of Full, Lite, and Basic members; it means that Indy Hall looks different every day. I can count on Jason, Joe, and Jonny, all full-timers, to be here most days, and Dana, who works for co-founder Alex Hillman. That's great for continuity. But for variety, there's a random mix of others who show up on different days. There's always someone to have lunch with, if you want to go out, and always someone to compare notes with if you have a question about Rails or video editing or cupcakes or parenthood.

Indy Hall is having a membership drive right now to determine the feasibility of moving to a larger space—one with more bathrooms, more conference rooms, space for more desks (and thus members of all kinds), and space for telephone booths, among other things. The current membership got a sneak preview of the new space last Tuesday night at a town hall meeting to discuss what we like and don't like about the Indy Hall community and the current space.

town hall meeting @indyhall

The new space solves most of our complaints with the current space at 32 Strawberry Street—only one bathroom, not enough spots for private phone conversations, not enough room to hold all the people who want to work here—while retaining the things I and others love: the neighborhood and its many great restaurants and coffee shops; the proximity to public transit (so many buses and trains come through here!); the cool mix of people who flow through the space.

Most importantly, there's ROOM FOR YOU if you want to come. If you're a freelancer, work-at-homer, one-person company, or even a regular employee who just wants a cool place to work away from the office a couple days a month, check out Indy Hall and sign up for a membership. The Basic level is only $25/month and includes one free day.

Posted by Lori in work at 3:27 PM on March 9, 2009


If I weren't returning to office work next week, I'd sign up, if only to have a good place to do homework.

Though I have seriously fallen in love with my local coffee house for the same purpose.

Posted by: ratphooey [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 9, 2009 6:36 PM

You're really motivating me to check out the coworking space in Austin.

Posted by: Skye at March 9, 2009 8:57 PM

@ratphooey: The founders of Indy Hall noticed that lots of folks were bringing the office to coffee shops, and they decided to go in the other direction: their mission was to bring coffee shop culture to an office environment. They succeeded pretty well! (Which coffee shop do you frequent, btw? :-)

@Skye: Cool! One of the neat things about co-working is that it's kind of like having museum pass with (unofficial) reciprocal privileges. Many co-workers end up seeking out co-working spaces other cities they visit, and ideas cross-pollinate. We get lots of out-of-towners coming through Indy Hall—and if the membership drive is successful, soon we'll even have a place for them to sit. ;-)

Posted by: Lori [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 9, 2009 9:46 PM

I love the idea of this sort of space. I've been cursing my armchair workspace and am looking for different spaces to mix it up. I'm envious.

Posted by: schmutzie at March 12, 2009 1:40 AM

I'm definitely researching this in my area. Sounds so cool (and I even have an office that I love already!).

Posted by: Abigail at March 15, 2009 6:20 PM

We have several members in this category: work-at-office folks who nevertheless value an occasional "offsite" day to shake their perspective up a little. :-)

Posted by: Lori [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 15, 2009 10:06 PM

Comments are now closed.