Insta-Offices for the Remote Worker
Working remotely is great because you can cut out commuting time, it makes you less bound to 9-5 workaday hours, it often allows you to work from anywhere in the world, you can spend more time with family and so on. But it can also be isolating, your home can be a minefield of distraction and even if you want to get out, you might not live near a coffee shop that’s cool with people hanging out all day after ordering a small coffee. A new venture called SpareChair is offering an alternative to work-from-home isolation and all-day Starbucks loitering, hooking you up with other remote workers to create insta-offices.
SpareChair works a lot like Airbnb, letting people open up their homes to the public for the purposes of coworking. Like Airbnb, SpareChair’s website has details about the space’s features (wifi, coffee, etc) and pictures of the space itself. There are peer reviews of both spaces and members to make sure everyone maintains a high level of quality and decorum.
To book a coworking session, you first make a profile with your personal info: profession, short bio, etc. Then search for a space and navigate to its page where there will be a schedule of available times and vacancies. From there, request a session (e.g. Tuesday, March 17 10am-1pm), enter payment info and check out. Like Airbnb, the site’s host has to confirm the reservation in case several people reserve at the same time or there’s an unforeseen scheduling conflict. Many of the private spaces are as cheap as $5 for an all day session and few are more than $15 (SpareChair charges a small fee). They also have numerous coworking spaces on their network; these tend to run around $30/day–still pretty cheap if this is your primary office.
SpareChair co-founder Sharona Coutts told us she started SpareChair because she needed it. “I work from home and while I like the concept of coworking spaces, I didn’t necessarily want to go into one every day, or even randomly, since you don’t necessarily get to interact with people when you’re there. Plus, at $35 a day, it can be pricey.”
SpareChair wants to be more than a space to work; they are out to create community and help people advance their careers. “We had a writer’s coworking session on Tuesday night, and our members were able to help each other work on drafts, refine ideas and focus on writing for three hours,” Coutts told us. “Because we know what field each of our members works in, we can curate specialized events like that, and we can also pair people with each other, and with the right host. So, for example, if you’re a freelance designer, you could search for hosts who are designers or design firms, and go and cowork with them for a day, week or month. It’s pretty potent networking, without the awkwardness.”
SpareChair is still in beta mode so you’ll need to request an invite, but the site is expanding quickly and already has locations in NYC, the Bay Area, Santa Cruz, LA, Chicago, Boulder CO, Nashville, Minneapolis and others. They’ve also got requests from more than 40 countries, including Brazil, Norway, the UK and Thailand. Coutts sees big things for this simple idea. “SpareChair will be the world’s biggest and most meaningful community–both online and off–of people who work from home. We are building a space for people to cowork and network, as well as to monetize under-utilized space. We haven’t paid for any marketing. Our community in the US has grown to 700 strong based solely on word of mouth and press!”