Yesterday afternoon, I stopped by the Caroline Collective and signed a lease on my very own desk. Sounds odd to lease a desk, eh? Especially sight unseen – there’s no actual desks in the space, just a big empty room with concrete floors, white & blue walls, and fluorescent lights dangling from a low ceiling.
Matt & Ned nervously showed me their prototype wood desk, and I could tell they weren’t sure whether or not I was going to “get” it. One of them said something about how the desk would be finished off, and I had to laugh. Finishing anything off isn’t the point. It’s not that coworking needs to be unpolished, but the finish on the desks doesn’t matter. Although, I do have to confess that I cringed when I read Ned’s Twitter about Knoll furniture – I thought to myself, please, God, don’t go buying high-end office furniture this early in the game. I love modern stuff like that, but damn, it’s expensive for a startup business. Anyway, I was relieved to see the desks were inexpensive but well-crafted wood jobs instead.
I get the whole coworking thing, especially as somebody who telecommuted for five years, but I bet most people aren’t going to foresee it until the desks and the personalities go in. The factor that makes coworking tick is the chemistry – the unique mix of people from different backgrounds, different companies (or no company at all), the laid-back informal discussions that don’t come from meetings organized on a calendar.
When the people are in, when the artists are slinging paint, when the beer is in the fridge, when the desks are filled haphazardly with relics of different careers, that’s when people will get it, and it’ll happen like wildfire in a city like Houston.
And you’ll wish you’d have signed a lease on a desk while they were still available. Trust me.