For almost two years, I’ve been running my business out of any place that would host me. There were days that I worked from my couch in my pajamas and didn’t leave the house. There were days that I took over coffee shops—including one that put up a sign saying, “Please limit your stay to 90 minutes to give other patrons the opportunity to enjoy the café.” (I am determined I am the reason the sign was put up.)
There were plenty of great coffee shops that I spent all my money in and got bored of their food. I was spending money to rent spaces to host meetings with clients.
I finally decided it was time to pull the trigger: It was time to get an office, have a place to meet clients, and create more of a routine. I always talk about the importance of routine with my clients—maybe I should practice what I preach?
So here I am, a few months into my membership at WeWork. The best thing I’ve discovered about the experience so far is that having an office has allowed me to have a better work-life balance.
Here are four tips on how to make the most out of your own coworking experience:
Get to know your neighbors. There are hundreds of members in each WeWork building and so much opportunity to connect and collaborate with people. The first person I met when I moved in owns a business that has so many synergies with my business. “I’ve done business with so many people in my building! From my trademarking lawyer to brands with whom I’ve co-sponsored events, there are so many synergies to be unearthed when you get to know your neighbors,” says WeWork Soho West member Liz Wilkes.
Take a break. It’s so easy to get caught up in your work, look up, and realize that you’ve been staring at your computer for five hours. Be sure to catch a break. Take a walk around the neighborhood, or do some stretches or light yoga. Take advantages of the workshops that WeWork has to offer members. Pop into the wellness room for a short meditation. WeWork spaces are all about accommodating your needs, so take advantage of it!
Randy Swain-Johnson was homeless for the holidays. Without gainful employment for more than a year, he lost his flat in London at the beginning of December and found himself “sleeping rough” in a bitterly cold public park.
“I was putting in applications for jobs, but nothing was happening,” says Swain-Johnson, who has an extensive background in accounting. “I was getting lots of rejections, and sometimes not even a phone call.”
In desperation, he posted an SOS on LinkedIn. Lots of people wished him well, but none of the responses led to a permanent job.
Then Vernon Dias read the post. He identified with Swain-Johnson’s situation—years before, Dias found himself living on the streets. His first business folded, and he and his family were homeless for three months.
“It brought back some painful memories,” says Dias, founder of the digital agency Made by Fire. “When my first business went under, I lost everything. One day I was worth a few million, and the next day I had nothing.”
Community Managers see it all – our members’ achievements and successes, disappointments and heartbreaks. We see collaborations form and partnerships die (and of course, the occasional printer jam or electrical outage).
“Because we invest so much of ourselves into what we do, it can be hard to separate ‘work’ from ‘life,’” says Avital Gottesman, WeWork’s New York City Lead. Somewhat of a Community Management extraordinaire, Avital explains that “working with members makes it easy to get emotionally invested.”
For this Member Spotlight, we spoke with Avital about going after what you want, taking people’s advice, and what it means to be a community.
I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, in a household of five girls. After high school, I studied for a year and a half in Israel before moving to New York to study English and Communications at Stern College. During my senior year, my boyfriend’s brother (who is now my brother-in-law) had started an internship at WeWork. His building was only a few blocks from my dorm, so I would go visit him and study from empty offices. The company was still under the radar at the time but was already buzzing with entrepreneurial energy. I was in awe of it all, and knew I had to be a part of it.