Coworking. Or, why I’m back in an office.

I spent the better part of 10 years working in an office. I spent the next 3 years working from home. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, of course. As much as enjoy working from home (the commute is awesome), I have been having a pretty big issue with creating a work/life split. My home IS my office. If I am awake, I am at work. That's been my reality for a while now. Nobody's fault but my own, mind you.

A few years back I wrote a post about wanting a coworking facility here in Vegas. At the time I wasn't looking for a place to work full-time, but a place to go a time or two each week to work and mingle with other geeks. It wasn't too long after that post that I heard rumblings of some possible places that were going to open up. But most would end up just being rumors with no real location ever popping up.

Then, #vegastech happened.

/usr/lib16 months ago, /usr/lib opened up. It is a community space that was VERY much needed. A place where the tech community would start to blossom. Several nights a week the place would be swarming with groups of all shapes, sizes and interests. Not just tech groups met their, either. It was really a place for DOers to do stuff.

I was so thrilled to have this location available that was drawing such an energetic and engaging crowd that I found myself spending time there multiple evenings each week. And, since the place was pretty quiet during the day, I would sometimes pack up the laptop and use it as a place to work every now and again. It was everything I wanted in a work space… Or so I thought.

Happy-ish third anniversary

February 1st marked the third anniversary of my working from home. The lack of a work/life split at this point is really getting to me. I have been considering working from /usrlib more often, but I just haven't made the commitment to doing it. Part of the reason is because I knew something else was on the horizon. Something I have been looking forward to for a long time. A real coworking facility within a reasonable distance from my house.

In early February Work In Progress finally opened their doors. Located in downtown Vegas, it's a short 12-ish minute drive from home. I immediately signed up for the base level membership which gave me access to the common work area during business hours. That first week I worked out of WiP twice, and by the end of the second day, I knew I had found what I was looking for.

So, what's the difference?

I know what you are thinking, /usr/lib and Work In Progress sound an awful lot like the same type of place. What makes them so different? For me, there are a couple key things that make for a pretty significant difference:

1) Purpose. I have found that when I leave the house and head to WiP, I am “going to work.” when I get there I sit down, focus and dig in. At /usr/lib, it never entirely felt that way for me. The place, in general, is a place I go for social events, so my time spent there isn't as focused and isn't as productive.

2) My Spot! (I immediately thought of Sheldon Cooper when I wrote that) I have upgraded my membership at WiP which gives me the ability to pick a desk and make it my own. I have brought in a nice sized monitor and stand, so when I am working at WiP it is a setup I am very comfortable with, since it matches my home office pretty closely. When I am working at /usr/lib, I am always working on my laptop only. That is just never going to be as productive as working with more real estate.

3) Facilities. /usr/lib wasn't designed to be a coworking facility, so many of the things I would talk about in this category aren't fair to compare. Having a locker to store belongings, a staff on hand to help when needed, a fridge to keep drinks, a kitchen, a phone room to step in to take a quick call. Hell, the option to have a dedicated desk where I can leave my monitor is a huge benefit.

Work/Life split

Originally my plan was to head down to WorkInProgress a couple days a week, similar to how I was using /usr/lib, but after those first couple days I was noticing that I was already feeling more productive while I was there. This past week was my first full week at WiP, and while I don't expect to all of a sudden stop working from home in the evenings, I at least feel that I am on the right track to getting back to some sort of normalcy. Hopefully the days of spending 16 hours in front of the screen are behind me and I can start to regain that work/life split that I have been missing.

Wish me luck!

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  1. shayne on March 13, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Awesome! I’m happy for you – the work/life thing is hard and I’m still struggling as well 🙂

    • shayne on March 13, 2013 at 9:54 am

      Also – JEALOUS!

    • John on March 13, 2013 at 9:59 am

      Thanks man. It’s definitely not an overnight thing. It’s going to take some work to get there. But, I can see the light.

  2. utahcon on March 13, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Good luck! I need a co-work, and job that allows me to work out of the office here in SLC!

  3. Jon Brown on March 13, 2013 at 11:25 am

    I am so so envious and I’m looking forward to checking it out on my next visit to Vegas.

    • John on March 13, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      Next time I have you guys in town for a week, we’ll work out of here. You’re going to love it.

  4. Phil Simon on March 13, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    To me, the benefits of non-commuting exceed the costs of ‘always working.’ I’ll go outside sometimes sans devices. Nowhere is perfect. As my friend Phil Montero says, we live in an age of ‘the anywhere office.’

    • John on March 13, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      I get that, but for me, it became too much and I needed a change.

  5. Jason Tucker on March 13, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    That’s awesome John. I have this exact same problem, I tend to work looooong days and don’t end up feeling all that productive when working from home. I’ve never used a co-working space but if I was able to have multiple monitors there then I think it would work out well. Please report back I’m curious how this works out for you.

    • John on March 13, 2013 at 8:21 pm

      Thanks Jason. So far I’m really enjoying it. I’ll report back in a month or so.

  6. Timothy on March 19, 2013 at 9:01 am

    Congrats John! You’ve been a leader in the Vegas social space for awhile so of course you’d be a trailblazer here. I saw usr/lib last weekend and it looked like a great spot to work from.

  7. Gabriel Shepherd (@gabeshep) on April 8, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    Good post John. I worked for home for about the same amount of time and started to go crazy… Being around you and other active people at Work In Progress keeps me motivated.

  8. Andy Ward on May 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Having done both I can say I am definitely more productive in an office. Still, it is hard to put a price on the benefits of working from home, more time spent with family, no commute, work in your under ware, etc.

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