Telling stories

Your Office Away From The Home Office

Posted by southwrite on June 22, 2014

Man working cupOne reason I started freelancing years ago was to avoid the daily commute to the office. Leaving the confines of a 9 to 5 job, meant setting my own schedule, finding my own work and clients, but most of all not getting in the car (very often) to drive somewhere in traffic that I hated.

So why then am I so fascinated by the coworking spaces that keep cropping up just about everywhere?

The truth is that after you’ve spent a few years in your home office – whether it’s the basement, a spare bedroom, a closet or even a brightly lit sun porch, you begin to miss the regular office. Not everything to be sure. Not the “boss” by any means. If you’re a freelancer than you’re the boss and you don’t like the idea of taking orders from anyone else.

You do find people  and stimulating conversation lacking. Not that you want to be back in the office with the same crew that sometimes made your life miserable. No, you want to talk to other freelancers and the self employed  about ideas. problems or maybe a collaboration.

Many of us feel that way and some are spending at some a few days in coworking locations. These arrangements usually involve a desk, internet access and lots of free coffee. But there’s usually much more. There are networking events in terms of formal programs and t the informal talks that can sometimes lead to something big.

Just getting out of the house for a while can do wonders for your creativity and peace of mind.

As I mentioned earlier, there are now many coworking arrangements. There’s probably one in your town or soon will be. Most have been set up by private companies, but now even city governments are getting into the act. I came across two good examples of coworking in suburban Gwinnett County right outside of Atlanta.

The small town of Grayson converted an old warehouse into a coworking and incubator space. The emphasis here is on fostering the development of new companies, more than providing an office away from the home office for freelancers. The goal is nurture growing companies that can jumpstart economic development in the town, according to Gail Lane, Manager of the Grayson Downtown Development Authority.

The 438 Grayson Parkway building in downtown offers both coworking space and Incubator programs for new businesses. Along with cheap space, the DDA connects the company with local mentors who can help them develop and hopefully avoid some of the problems that can hamper any new enterprise. She says that other professionals find 438 an “ideal for finding a quiet spot to either get some work done, catch up on e-mails with a cup of coffee, or for meeting with clients, having conferences and networking with other entrepreneurs. We’ve found the concept of “Getting out of the house and into Grayson” a overall positive experience for those who are part of our programs.”

The Suite Spot @ Sugar Hill coworking space

The Suite Spot @ Sugar Hill coworking space

In Sugar Hill, freelancers and startup companies are moving into a coworking space created in the old city hall. This marks one of the first times a city government has converted a city hall into a coworking arrangement. In fact, according to city spokesman Scott Andrews the town may be the very  first.

The structure became available after the construction of a new municipal center. Rather than sell off the not quite historic 1970s era property or turn it into a parking lot, city father saw an opportunity to foster development among the estimated 80 percent of local businesses that are home-based. The Suite Spot @ Sugar Hill was born.

“We see it as a business incubator model,” according to Andrews. “We want to get young growing company or home based businesses in there at a very inexpensive rate. Our goal is to have them grow with the city and move on to the other real estate we will have available very soon.”

Still in the process of build-out, more than half of the ten upstairs office spaces have already been spoke for and a tutoring company called Grasp Learning about half of the bottom floor. The front sector of the columned building is set aside for coworking space and will have a “Starbucks feel,” he explained.

“We’re trying to give it the trendy industrial look with glass and metal. Some place that people want to come and hang out and work,” says Andrews.

That’s just the kind of atmosphere that a freelancer  finds inspiriting and a good place for an occasional office away from the home office.



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