Your 1st Time Coworking

I woke up excited, thinking about what I’d wear on my first day. You never get a second chance to make a great first impression. And, damn, I wanted to be one of the cool kids my first day of coworking.

Coworking is the new black

Coworking, my new love, is an amazing movement that champions independent workers coming together to support each other. Coworking, like mediation, kinda defies a firm explanation. It’s part lifestyle, part skill-based, part business model, if you ask me.

The best definittion I heard so far comes from Jen Ross over at W@tercoolerHub, who defines it as ‘working independently, together’.

I love being part of a community and coworking ticks so many of my boxes for a satisfying work life.

Sense of Mission
Interesting Ideas
Fascinating, like-minded people
Supportive, collaborative environment
Personal Growth
Business Growth

As I learn more about the 5 core values-Collaboration, Openness, Community, Accessibility, and Sustainability- I’m enjoying the discussion on how to keep those values alive as the movement grows as much for the quality of conversation as the content.  There is a genuine sense of ease, willingness to contribute and respect that’s so refreshing. And, it’s nice to know that if conversation does get tense there’s a mediator in the house :)

My first time

I strongly recommend checking out your nearest coworking space if you’re a home-based entrepreneur. Recently, my husband and I tried a day at the new NextSpace in Berkeley when there was a neighborhood power outage.  I thought I’d share what the experience was like for anyone who might feel shy about trying it.

It’s like the first day of school only with grown ups.  Erin and Charlie, the community managers pictured above, greeted us as we entered.  Although they seemed a bit surprise by us we were warmly welcomed and had a nice tour of the two story space that includes The Vault, a little conference space in the area the used to be a bank vault.

NextSpace in Berkeley

Beautiful NextSpace in Berkeley

I’ll admit that it can be a bit daunting if you’re shy because there aren’t any rules about how to act.  And, it’s easy to get flustered thinking that everyone knows each other and you’re the new kid.  I smiled at everyone and acted like I belonged. And in a few minutes, I did like part of the flow.  I got coffee from the kitchen (coffee, tea, water and adult beverages are available).  I wandered around looking at the art. I watched other people work.  My takeaway: Smile and be friendly but don’t feel compelled to make friends.

The design matters  I discovered that I actually work better in a space filled with art and a sophisticated color palette.  All that sparked my creativity, making it much easier to work on my book outline.  The furniture was comfy and well arranged to offer different experiences.  For instance I sat in a bucket chair setting that was meant for two to converse, which was next to a larger ‘lounge area’ that signaled ‘let’s kick back’.  I got a smidge of privacy even though I was in a huge open room with about 10 other people. My takeaway: a weekly change of scenery is good for me and for building business

Be prepared to have your patience tested a little because this is not like working at home.  It’s better and different.  At first I was thrilled with the silence of the place.  Then, I felt a little anxious like what if I make noise?   So it takes a few minutes to get acclimated to silence punctuated with talking. NextSpace has these cool phone booths for calls although I noticed most people made or answered brief calls ‘on the floor’.

Initially, I felt like I was eavesdropping but quickly realized that privacy was available if wanted so no worries.  Once I relabeled the talking from interesting conversation to white noise I hardly noticed talking.  If you’re someone who needs absolute quiet, you’ll want to ask about phone use and general etiquette when you arrive at the space.  My takeaway:  Talking is a small detail I can embrace to get the other benefits.

Moving around the space is a good idea because each spot has a different vibe.  I spent my time on the main open floor before lunch.  Afterwards, I went upstairs where the enclosed offices and a smaller ‘open floor’ existed.  There was a much for focused energy upstairs, only essential talking among the four folks sharing the space.  I got the feeling they all worked for the same company. My takeaway: Use different areas for different purposes.  Need quiet to write try upstairs.  Want inspiration, go for the bullpen.

Very cool perks are a great feature of NextSpace.  The day I was there they launched their wellness room with a lovely massage table.  Each Thursday, workers can enjoy a $20 massage. No, I didn’t get one although I wanted to.  Just to much excitement to enjoy the massage.  They also hooked up with a neighbor camp so you kids can go there while you cowork.  Cool, right.  My takeaway: This will be a feature of my coworking space for sure!

Your first coworking experience

What was it like for you?  I’d love to hear in the comments.

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