The Daily Grind

Sammy wakes up every day and starts the process of going to the office.  Sammy works for a large flooring manufacturer and spends a majority of his day pounding away on a keyboard and mousepad.  The days aren’t terribly long, but he has to pull some long days every once in a while, especially at the end of the year.  This wouldn’t be too bad but Sammy lives in a metropolitan suburb and even though he only lives 20 miles from work, the commute takes an hour and a half.  So Sammy leaves home at 6:30 to get to work by 8.  If he works late that day, say until 6:30, he won’t get home to his family until 8 that night.

Once day, his boss calls him in and, after pleasantries are exchanged, Sammy is told the company understands his commute is very lengthy and are a little concerned it may get taxing on him.  Sammy agrees that his commute does get a little disheartening at times, but assures his boss he is quite happy at his job.

Boss man tells Sammy there is a new program getting rolled out from the higher-ups which will allow for marketing and other creatives to work remotely 2-3 days per week.  Sammy can’t believe what he is hearing!  “I get to work from HOME?”  His boss assures him if he chooses to work from home, he is free to do so.  They work out the details of this new opportunity for Sammy and, suddenly the commute home isn’t so boring.

After a few months of working in his superman sleep pants and fuzzy bear claw slippers, Sammy starts growing frustrated with the constant interruptions at home.  A piece of work which would have traditionally taken him 4 hours to do at the office is now taking 6-7 hours due to the constant interruptions.  Sammy’s dream of working from home is quickly becoming a nightmare.

This story is a reality for some people.  Working from home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially if you have small children at home.  That is why there has been, and will continue to be, a sharp rise in Coworking spaces.  What is THAT?  It’s actually quite simple.

A coworking space is a place where freelancers, remote workers, and solo-preneurs can come to have a place to work, with all the amenities of an office, without having to pay an arm and a leg for it.  They can look very different from one to the next however.  Some focus solely on private offices (like Thrive Coworking) while some are a big open space (like The Circuit).  There are hybrids out there as well which have a little bit of everything for folks.

If Sammy is ready to get out of the house, but not commit to making his hour and a half drive every morning and every afternoon, he could work from a local coworking space.  He will have the freedom he needs to get stuff done.  He won’t be distracted by the dirty dishes in the sink or by the neighbors cutting their grass next to his window.  Sammy’s productivity will go up and his boss will be VERY happy.

The popularity of coworking spaces is on the rise and there are currently about 3,500 coworking spaces across the US.  Some predictions say there will be around double that number in just 5 years.  There are currently about 500,000 members of coworking space in the US.  By 2020, there is predicted to be around 1.1 million members; again, doubled.

What does this mean for the workplace?  What does this mean for local communities?  In Cherokee County, GA (where I live) over 3/4 of the population commute out of the county for work.  If just half of those people had the opportunity to work remotely, they could choose to stay within a 15-20 minute driving time and still be inside the county.  That means more of their money stays in the community.  They are helping to build a local economy instead of supporting a different one.

These coworking spaces need commercial space to open.  I wonder where they could find big buildings which sit empty for about 167 hours per week?

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