Getting interviewed by Voice of America at cove, a DC shared workspace.
Hi there! Lee here, a freelance writer, editor, book designer, and communications and marketing consultant.
Since I wear a lot of hats, professionally, I have to be as flexible as possible in my work style, schedule, and location. I’ve had clients who wanted me to work onsite—right at their desks—and I’ve had clients who never even saw my face. My need for flexibility, multiple locations, and affordability led me to choose cove as my productivity space.
Funnily enough, I found cove because a client of mine, an e-magazine in Northwest D.C., requested an article about coworking spaces close to the neighborhood. I came across cove, still a very young business, in the course of my research for that article. I liked what I saw, so I kept it in mind for when I wanted to join a DC coworking space or productivity space myself. Before I joined, I narrowed the field down to three main options: cove, Writers Room DC in Tenleytown, and Canvas.co/work in Dupont Circle.
Writers Room DC was a serious contender for me because, in addition to my freelance work, I’m working on a novel. The idea that I could write in a dedicated quiet space and then network with other writers in a communal area was really attractive for me—like writing school all over again. This spot would be perfect for a writer who needs to have a specific place to get into “the zone,” where there is minimal distraction but plenty of coffee. Writers Room DC would also be a great place to air writerly angst with other people who totally get it!
The next I investigated was Canvas.co/work, which turned out to be a little out of my price range at the time. It does, however, look like a great option for people launching creative start-ups, since there is an all-communal-space layout and plenty of events to get people networking, but Canvas still provides dedicated work stations where people set up camp and leave equipment. In my case, I was looking for a full-time job while doing freelance work, so the three-month contract on half of the plans just didn’t fit where I was at the time (Or is it just my general commitment issues? No, really, tell the truth!). If I were launching myself into a full-time creative consulting career and had one niche instead of eight, I would have given Canvas another look.
Since I joined cove, I’ve heard of numerous other options suitable for freelancers, start-ups, or social entrepreneurs. Cove is still my preferred option, but I’m eyeing Remote Year for the future, when I have a more established network that brings a stable stream of contracts. Remote Year is a cross between a coworking space and an adventure tourism agency. They choose 12 locations and organize lodging, travel, and workspace with guaranteed internet access, so “digital nomads,” or freelancers like me, can travel the world with a group of 75 people for one year and have crazy adventures and cultural experiences, without putting careers on hold or quitting jobs. Someday, I’m all over that!
If I were a social entrepreneur who had a BIG IDEA that could change the world, I would go for a fellowship at the Halcyon Incubator, which is run by the S&R Foundation in Georgetown. I’ve had plenty of exposure to the S&R Foundation’s work to promote arts, music, sciences, cultural exchange, and social entrepreneurship, and it’s top-notch.
The Halcyon Incubator chooses social entrepreneurs for year-long fellowships that include free use of office space, living space in the Halcyon House, a living-expenses stipend, and all the mentoring and networking opportunities with potential investors a fellow can handle. It’s an awesome place to launch a non-profit or start a formal LLC with a social mission. I’m not there myself, but if I were, I would be applying to the Halcyon Incubator.
A similar program is 1776, downtown near the White House. 1776 is an incubator for start-ups and entrepreneurs that offers not only space but access to industry mentors, investors, and a network of corporate partners. There is also a 1776 Seed Fund that invests in promising start-ups. If I were working on the next breakthrough in technology or international development, I would be looking at the 1776 network with great interest. Seed funding? Yes, please!
Another solid coworking option is WeWork, which has locations around the globe. Entrepreneurs who are more established and have an international component to their business would find WeWork extremely useful. Members choose a home base and work in the common area or in a dedicated office. If they want to work in a different location, across town or across the globe, they can use one of their monthly passes or pay a daily fee. Have meetings in London and need a place to work in between? WeWork has a spot there. Need to get some business done in Shanghai? You’re covered.
Having a network of WeWork locations that extensive means also having a network of other WeWork members to draw on as potential partners and clients. WeWork has an app—a lot like cove’s app—that connects users all over the world.
There are tons of other options out there for places and ways to work outside of the old suit-in-the-office model: MakeOffices, Impact Hub, Carr Workplaces, Metro Offices, The Hive 2.0, the Silver Spring original Creative Colony, and the Arlington spot Cowork Café. This isn’t our parents’ economy and the opportunity for flexible working options—and the need—is only going to increase as more people join the nontraditional workforce. Where I fit in the new economy and how I do my best work guided my decision to make cove my productivity space. So for the foreseeable future, until I have enough dough for a ‘round-the-world freelancing tour, I hope to see you at cove!
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