Plus: Best Co-Working Locations in Orange County
By HELEN ANNE TRAVIS
It’s lonely out there for an entrepreneur. While your fulltime friends are idly chatting around the water cooler, throwing impromptu happy hours, and stealing pens and paperclips, you’re slaving away at home, alone, jotting notes on the back of envelopes because you’d rather invest in your business than buy Post-it Notes.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Across the country, co-working spots are popping up to serve the growing freelance, self-employed, and telecommute workforce. These mini offices offer entrepreneurs a place to focus on their individual projects in a shared environment.
Like traditional offices, co-working spaces typically consist of workstations, conference rooms, a kitchen and recreation area. They’re usually equipped with high-speed WiFi, printers and even Post-it Notes.
But unlike most corporate environments, these shared offices are downright sleek. Think foosball tables, leather couches, wood floors and even the occasional outdoor workspace. These ain’t your momma’s cubicles.
Co-working isn’t for everyone, and it’s important to find the right space for you. If you’ve been debating whether to make the leap from your couch to a communal office, consider these pros and cons:
The biggest perk of co-working is the potential for camaraderie. Rather than sitting at home with your cat, co-working allows you to connect with others who are building their own empires to share feedback, ideas and resources. You have someone to fistpump when you land a client and commiserate over a beer with when a pitch is denied. And who knows; you might run into your next client, business partner or advisor while refilling your coffee in the communal kitchen.
Like any shared space, there are plenty of opportunities for distraction. Will you be able to tune out the conversation at the next table about last night’s episode of Game of Thrones? (Spoiler alert, everyone dies.) Or not get sucked into an in-depth discussion on whether WordPress is better than Drupal? There are also the challenges inherent in sharing bathrooms, limited refrigerator space, and a single Keurig brewer.
Pro: It’s a good investment
Co-working allows you to split the high costs of renting an office, buying equipment, and keeping the lights, fax and internet on with fellow entrepreneurs. These spaces typically offer state-of-the-art tools, comfy ergonomic chairs and swanky conference rooms for you to conduct meetings and interviews. Because costs are shared, you’ll pay far less than what you would for a private office.
Con: It costs money
Co-working is a good value, but it still costs money. Most spots charge between $125 and $400 a month. That’s a pretty penny for bootstrapping business owners. Make sure you’re comfortable with the monthly cost and read over the agreement carefully for hidden fees and charges.
Pro: Personal accountability
Being your own boss is terrific, and terrifying. With no one to answer to but yourself, it can be easy to procrastinate, get bummed out when you hit a roadblock, and neglect the more mundane aspects of running a business. Working in a shared space helps you stay accountable and focused. Because you’re not at home there’s no temptation to watch TV, empty the dishwasher or start a load of laundry.
Con: Showering and commuting
Half of the fun—actually all of the fun—of working from home is the total freedom to work on what you want, when you want, wearing whatever you want, if want to wear anything at all. Anyone who’s switched from fulltime to freelance knows the joy of trading those uncomfortable shoes and stiff pants for bare feet and PJs. Co-working requires you to brush your teeth, put on a clean shirt, wear pants or suitable equivalent, and commute to an office.
Finding A Space That Works For You
Need help finding your tribe? Here are some of Orange County’s most popular co-working spaces.
1621 Alton Pkwy., Suite 250, Irvine
From $299 per month
After work, head downstairs to the common area to participate in Eureka’s ongoing hackathons, workshops and executive training seminars. The campus has an on-site cafe and park for when you need a break from the screen.
5151 California Ave., Irvine
From $199 per month, $35 per day
Indoor and outdoor work areas and beer on tap make this communal office the perfect place to work and play. The site also has an event space and cafe.
1691 Kettering St., Irvine
From $150 per month, $20 per day
A strong community of programmers, designers and marketers call this 15,000-square foot tech hub home. Night and weekend workshops help co-workers stay up to date, and regular networking events keep everyone plugged in.
112 E Amerige Ave., Fullerton
From $389 per month, $35 per day
In addition to high speed internet, printers and copiers, you’ll also find an Apple TV, Bose sound system and LCD projector in this well-equipped co-working space.
365 Clinton St., Costa Mesa
From $125 per month
Urban Workshop is one of the largest DIY workshops and makerspaces in North America. You’ll find all the tools and equipment you need, as well as a large community of makers to teach you how to use them.
270 Baker St. E, Ste. 200, Costa Mesa
From $151 per month
This sleek 6,000-sq. ft. industrial-chic warehouse hosts regular networking events, workshops and fundraisers. The community is strong here. You might even find Wayfare’s founder in the kitchen cooking everyone a homemade lunch.
3420 Bristol St., Costa Mesa
Call for pricing
TechSpace Costa Mesa incorporates modern office design with an OC twist. Located near the South Coast Plaza shopping mall and John Wayne Airport, the space offers growing businesses 52 office suites and 203 workspaces. It’s located in an energetic business community home to amenities like restaurants, hotels and museums.
Plaza Sereno – 234 E. 17th St., #117, Costa Mesa
Sobeca – 2967 Randolph Ave., Unit A, Costa Mesa
From $175 per month, $25 per day
At these two Costa Mesa locations you’ll find open desks, private offices and a flexible event space. Work/life balance is the name of the game here. Networking and collaboration is highly encouraged.
100 Spectrum Center Dr., 9th Fl, Irvine
Call for pricing
With multiple locations across the U.S., Carr Workspaces is designed for small businesses that need advanced services like administrative staff, IT support and custom furnishings.