I read Ethan Watters’ Urban Tribes in 2005. While I thought the book was interesting, what stuck with me most was the realm in which the book was written. Ethan Watters is one of the co-founders of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. It is a shared “office for the creative self-employed” operating with the hypothesis “that community is conducive to productivity”.
Even those who work primarily alone benefit greatly from being in the presence of others. It might just be the reassurance of having others nearby, the competitive urge of hearing someone else’s keyboard, or the availability of another soul to help mold an idea.
I have worked without a designated office space, other than at home, for the last three years. Several times a week, I find that I have to get out and work in a coffee shop, just to have some sense of activity around me. It is good to be around others, but there are disadvantages as only certain tasks can really be done in that setting.
Today, a friend forwarded me a link to a new shared workspace that will be opening in Austin called LaunchPad Coworking. More and more, creatives are making a living as free-lancers and telecommuters. This seems like the right time for this kind of space. I get excited about the possibilities of having something like this available and I hope it works out for them.