Working from home, outside the house

Although working from home brings many benefits (my favourite being the added lie-in time), I’ve become aware that being in a more working environment with other people can be more beneficial. In Liverpool there is a great co-working office space DoES for developers that either freelance or who would otherwise have to work in their company offices with not-so like minded staff of other departments. These sorts or places are springing up in various cities, and thankfully the North East isn’t behind. In Newcastle, PostOfficeNE1 are setting up a shared work space and hot desking. Down the road from my house, in a wonderful city-centre spot is CDCEA’s Durham Nest, which is where I am sat now starting this blog post. The Durham Nest opened only yesterday, and I went to have a look at the space. But having only just started working full-time for myself, and so never rented any kind of office space, what questions did I want answered? View from my desk today at Durham Nest

The place was clean, tidy, spacious, and light. That seemed good enough to work in. There was a toilet, a kitchenette with a kettle, that will make it easier to for me to stay working for hours. Several small meeting spaces were available for an extra daily charge, if I have clients round that I want to talk with in more privacy. With the rates being unbelievably good(possible thanks to Durham County Council), it seemed best to just try it for a day and I think that’s the best way to answer questions. I really like DoES’ offer of your first day free if you bring cake (to share), nobody losses!

Walking away I realised I hadn’t thought about the chairs. I managed to remember they weren’t wheelie ones, but they looked better than the chair in my home office. Perhaps I should have sat at a few desks to see which spot I liked (partially distracting views matter a lot to me). There didn’t seem to be anywhere I could keep my stuff when I leave. I should have asked about the possibility of getting a lockable drawer or two if I pay for a month’s block. Can I claim/reserve a certain desk as mine? DoES is run by the people who have permanent desks there and their rolling-month contracts include a door key. Durham Nest is a different set up, and is staffed all day. I asked about the opening times, 9-5 Mon-Fri. Those times are a bit tight for me, and if I was regularly working here, I wonder if it would be possible to stay till 7 or 8 on some nights. Is it acceptable for me to put up a poster in the window or on the walls advertising my latest projects? Another key question, is who else would be working in the space, what sort of things do they do? That’s a tough question at the moment, but it makes me want to continue spending days here so that I can find out who comes. I know the work of their first customer very well, and I have several receptionists to myself.

I’m also going to see what it’s like to work in Sanctuary 21, a Salvation Army run prayer space and coffee shop (so ample supply of tea), and I’ve been invited to make use of the side rooms if I find the coffee shop area to be too distracting. I think I know several people around the country that work from home, or have rented desk space and offices. I’d really like to hear what questions you would want answered (either by looking at the place or asking the people who run it), or what are important factors/benefits about places you have/do work in?

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2 Responses to Working from home, outside the house

  1. Hi, one little correction – at DoES a key to the space is not included in the monthly contracts, you have to pay a separate deposit for that.

    Besides that, great article. I think you’re asking the right sort of questions. From the sound of things our space has perhaps more of a community feel, as part of that if you did, for instance, want to put up a poster it’s likely we’d say yes :-)

  2. Hi Greg,
    Those sound like all the right questions to me too.
    I’ve been using the Hub co-working space at Kings Cross, and visited others. Each place is different and will develop its own community as it grows. Some of it will also be deciding what you need. Some places offer lockers for example, some you have tea/coffee as part of the package others not.
    Its also worth considering who else will be working there, as that can often lead to good networking, possible collaborators and even clients. Whilst the Salvation Army place may tick some of the boxes you need its worth thinking about whether its a suitable place for getting to know others like you (a bit of mutual support never goes amiss) and whether you can bring clients there for a meeting.
    Intrigued as to what you’re offering too – do let me know!

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