By by Tanza Loudenback – Rate.com
Refuse to go back to the office? Sick of work-from-home? Small local offices or co-working spaces are a great compromise.
Are you one of the millions of fortunate American workers not required to return to the office, even as the pandemic eases? If so, you likely fall into one of two groups:
- Those whose homes are large enough that there was a vacant or little-used room that’s now serving as an office.
- Those who created some makeshift office space — taking over the dining room table, jamming a desk into an already-tight bedroom, working from a dark closet — and who could really use some relief.
For that second group (and for the first, if you prize separation of work and home life; or perhaps your spouse just wants you gone during the day), it’s time to consider a compromise. Rather than go back to your employer’s office, which for many involves a long commute, consider finding a small bit of office space very near your home.
Pandemic or not, there’s something to be said for working outside of your familiar four walls. The mental changeover to “work mode” that occurs when you’re walking, biking, or driving to an office is underappreciated. Not someplace you have to go to all the time, per se, but someplace you can go to, well, whenever you want.
Little office or coworking space?
Unless you live in the absolute hinterlands, your town or neighborhood is likely home to some modest office buildings, Class B and C space, perhaps. And guess what? The pandemic has crushed office landlords. Many have small suites that are empty. Call the office of the building of one whose location you like and ask. Then, negotiate hard. You’ll want to find out about the cleanliness of the bathrooms, security, HVAC, internet, and parking, and make sure the suite next door wasn’t leased to a loud person.
Or, consider coworking spaces. A good option for freelancers, remote employees, and small-time entrepreneurs, coworking leases are typically more flexible and affordable than traditional office leases. Explore 520 HUB’s coworking spaces.
Upsuite, an online platform that helps small businesses and independent workers find offices throughout North America, says pricing for coworking spaces varies greatly across markets. A desk could cost anywhere from $50 to $350 per month, while a private office could run from $350 to $800 per person per month, on average.
Sound pricey? Not relative to a too-big house. One with a lightly used extra bedroom is a money pit, as my colleague Carla Fried reported. Homeowners could save hundreds of dollars a month over the life of their mortgage by opting for a three-bedroom instead of a four-bedroom home, for instance.
An additional bedroom hits renters’ wallets hard, too. A report from RentCafe found the following increases in monthly rent for an additional room: $1,033 in San Francisco, $1,592 in Manhattan, $923 in Los Angeles, and $646 in Chicago.
According to Upsuite’s May 2021 database, Boston, New York City, and Austin are pricier markets for leasing coworking space. Houston, Washington, D.C., and, surprisingly, San Francisco, fall on the lower end of the aforementioned cost spectrum. Amenities like parking, IT help, and cleaning services may or may not be included.
Daybase, a startup that the New York Times says is betting on remote workers seeking some semblance of office life in the post-pandemic era, will soon unveil its first “flexible, on-demand workspots” in the suburbs surrounding New York City. Other locations in suburbs around the country are expected to follow. The company was founded by former WeWork executives, so one could argue they know what works (and what doesn’t).
For $50 to $199 per month, Daybase members will get varying access to lounges, private and semi-private desks, and meeting rooms. The spaces are equipped with restrooms, high-powered Wi-Fi, office supplies, ergonomic chairs, AV equipment, and, of course, complimentary caffeine. Ah, the comforts of home without the chaos of home.
The $199 per month membership includes access to a lounge area, plus 100 credits for booking workspaces (more are available for purchase if needed). At a cost of 10 credits per hour for a private room, that’s 10 hours of quiet office time per month. At six credits per hour for an open-air desk, that’s around 16 hours of away-from-home desk time per month. Not a bad deal.
At Serendipity Labs, a decade-old startup that manages flexible office space in over a dozen states, mostly in smaller cities and suburban areas, independent remote workers can rent semi-private desks and private offices on a monthly or daily basis.
In Serendipity Labs’ forthcoming East Bay, California, outpost, private offices with basic furniture will start at $800 per month, and dedicated desks will go for $599 per month.
Working from home has been great. Sort of. But there will always be kids, spouses, roommates, pets, neighbors, gardeners, et al. demanding your ear. Not to mention a drop-off in stable internet connection, often right when you need it most.