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.
16 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.
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!