OK I’ll admit it, the honeymoon may be over. No, of course I’m not talking about my tenure with Citrix. I’m still having great fun helping virtualization virtuosos at the company engage more socially online. No I’m talking about working from home. And for those of you who are familiar with the experience, I’m sure you can relate to what I’m about to share.
When I began working for Citrix last May the company agreed to allow me to remain in my beloved home of Portland, OR. I recognized then what a blessing it was that I could not only stay in this remarkably quirky, mega-green, food-fantastic, coffee consuming west coast capital of weird. (Perhaps you’ve heard of our recent fame in the new—and shall I say epically awesome—comedy series Portlandia, on the Independent Film Channel. If not, look it up. And Put a Bird On It.). But I could also do so from the cozy comfort of my own home office.
I’ll admit to feeling rather starry-eyed at the utopian unicorn and rainbow ideal of “remote working” I had at the time. I envisioned mid-morning cardio kickboxing work breaks and ridiculously productive afternoons fueled by the now famous Portland energy elixir Stumptown Coffee. And some of that happened (sadly not the workouts). But after seven months I must admit to feeling, well, a little over it.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy the flexibility this arrangement provides. I’m grateful I am able to modify my work schedule so I can ensure the burgeoning mind of my elementary school-aged son gets fed something more nutritious than sugar cereal and that he makes it to school with matching socks and clean hair. I just find that sometimes I feel a bit isolated from my team, my peers, and other people. And although social media channels provide a nice opportunity for connection with the outside world, sometimes I crave more interaction, collaboration, and human contact.
I know; whine, whine, poor me. Well last week I discovered a new “collective workspace” in Portland that might just help me break free from the all-too-familiar walls of my home office and get out there and be more social (professionally, I mean). The new artsy downtown loft space known as The Collective Agency (@TheCollectiveAgenC) is exactly what you’d expect: exposed brick walls surrounding open workspaces complete with tables, comfortable office chairs, plenty of power outlets, and professional & artist types individually click-clicking away on their keyboards or clumped together in corners engaged in hushed conversations with colleagues. And it felt like just what the doctor ordered for me.
After my grand tour of The Collective Agency I found myself wondering if other cities had similar spaces devoted to this new coworking model for the modern mobile worker. I’m aware of companies like Loosecubes, which helps connect workers in need of space with spaces—often within existing companies or homes—where they can work. But I’m just beginning to learn more about the coworking trend, and its growing popularity in cities like Portland and San Francisco.
What an exciting time to be a remote working warrior! For, as companies and consumers continue to realize the tangible benefits inherent in the “work anywhere” ideal—a model made possible by technologies like Citrix desktop & server virtualization platforms, the ubiquitous connectivity of 3G-enabled iPads, and the proliferation of cloud computing—I expect we’ll see innovations around working models really take off. As employees realize they can work untethered from their traditional technological setups, they’ll seek locations where they might actually find inspiration. And from hipster cafes and friends’ living rooms (don’t laugh, my friends and I often have “work dates” in each other’s houses) to coworking lofts and local libraries, the modern mobile worker may find these new solutions are the perfect antidote to the struggles of the solitary employee.