So I stopped into Citzen Space in San Francisco yesterday and I’m coming to the end of my second official day co-working, right where it all began. Chris Messina and Tara Hunt are the remaining occupiers of the office, but the place has been teeming the past two days.
I arrived in and after about 2 minutes of awkwardness I was at a desk, plugged in and good to go. I was more awkward that nobody actually acknowledged my presence – as though they were used to people walking in – and they are!
And so it’s pretty much exactly as you would expect. A couple of regulars, a couple of bedouins and an atmosphere that encourages collaboration and playtime, as well as serious business.
Antoin raised a few issues recently about the viability of co-working, and I got a chance to quiz Chris on some of them. From talking to him I got the impression that it’s important that there’s a ‘home team’ – Citizen Agency are such for Citizen Space and they handle the lease and deal with the landlord. Indeed, it’s important to have the landlord on your side – I feel, however, that co-working is actually an attractive proposition for a landlord – the ‘home team’ will generally be subsidised by the regular deskers and there’s generally a really good atmosphere.
Antoin also raised the point of office conflicts and deskers being protective of their business dealings and projects. Chris’s response to this is: deal with it, or go somewhere else. While I was there, several of the regular deskers were on calls, winning deals on large contracts for their businesses. There was a spirit of comradery and good will, rather than secrecy and remorse.
Regarding actually getting work done, there were often long periods in the office where banter would be high – I noticed Chris had a set of Shure EC3 headphones – headphones were donned by anyone who wanted to get some serious work done, including myself.
All in all, the experience and advice that I received was extremely rewarding. Citizen Space is right in there between the coffee shop and the conventional office, with all the good will and social activity of BarCamp to boot. I’m really pepped and looking forward to some good meetings next week to try and get a space off the ground in Dublin.