I’m totally stoked about being at BetaLoft today! I rode my bike down to 357 West 200 South and enjoyed the sun and the idea that I would be able to enjoy the day at Salt Lake’s first coworking place. After months of planning, Drew Tyler has finally brought coworking to the Salt Lake Valley!
Back in January, I wished so hard for a coworking place in Utah that it finally came true:
Back then, I said that an hour and twenty minute commute was too long for me to do every day. Since I rode my bike to BetaLoft, it took almost forty minutes for me to get here, so I’ve been proven a liar.
I guess a long commute is only acceptable to me if I’m able to do it on a bike.
If you are self-employed and live in the Salt Lake Valley, come try out BetaLoft for free for the next two weeks:
I found this website for a company that provides virtual offices here in Salt Lake City.
Unfortunately, their website is so unclear that I can’t tell what you get for your $95 a month. It says you have access to day offices and conference rooms, but then it also says that there are hourly charges. Do I have to pay the hourly charge in addition to that 95 bucks a month? The website wasn’t very clear.
I called them, got frustrated with the fact that they wanted so much information from me before they would even answer my questions and hung up on them while I was on hold.
Here’s where my perception of them turned, however. They called me back and were very professionally able to answer all my questions.
My biggest question? Is a virtual office the same as coworking? As far as Davinci Suites is concerned, no.
That $95 a month allows you to use their address as your business address for licensing, mail and such. If you want to use their day offices or conference rooms, it’s an additional $25 to $35 an hour depending on the size of the room. They do have complimentary cyber-cafes that you can use without paying, but they are small, much like an office lunch room.
I had heard rumors of a coworking site in Utah, but it was this Davinci Virtual Offices. They seem professional and a great place if you need some sort of business-like image. If you need camaradarie, however, you’re out of luck.
The San Francisco Chronicle has an article up about the laptop enabled roaming workforce that it has labeled as ‘Bedouins’. Its a fairly in depth look at how technology and changing attitudes about work are creating new lifestyle employment. From the piece by Dan Frost:
San Francisco’s bedouins see themselves changing the nature of the workplace, if not the world at large. They see large companies like General Motors laying off workers, contributing to insecurity. And at the same time, they see the Internet providing the tools to start companies on the cheap. In the Bedouin lifestyle, they are free to make their own rules.
“The San Francisco coffeehouse is the new Palo Alto garage,” declares Kevin Burton, 30, who runs his Internet startup Tailrank without renting offices. “It’s where all the innovation is happening.”
Burton and Kennedy are among those popularizing the bedouin name, separating the movement from traditional freelancing by stressing the workers’ involvement in technology, in general, and Web 2.0 ideology in particular. While the movement is at its apex in San Francisco, where young urban independents can easily find a coffeehouse with the right vibe for them, it’s also happening across the more suburban reaches of the Bay Area, and across the country as a whole.
The move toward mobile self employment is also part of what author Daniel Pink identified when he wrote “Free Agent Nation” in 2001.
“A whole infrastructure has emerged to help people work in this way,” Pink said. “Part of it includes places like Kinkos, Office Depot and Staples.” It also includes places like Starbucks and independent coffee shops, where Wi-Fi — wireless Internet access for laptops and other devices — is available.
“The infrastructure makes it possible for people to work where they want, when they want, how they want,” said Pink, who is based in Washington, D.C.
The piece then goes on to describe a number of people and locations in the Bay area which are fueling the cause. However, one of the best parts I enjoyed most was the connection to previous labor nomads toward the end:
According to the Lloyd’s of London Web site, “Edward Lloyd opened a coffee house in 1688, encouraging a clientele of ships’ captains, merchants and ship owners — earning him a reputation for trustworthy shipping news. This ensured that Lloyd’s coffee house became recognized as the place for obtaining marine insurance.”
Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote some of their best work in Parisian cafes. And in San Francisco, writers and poets of the Beat generation, such as Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, wrote in the cafes of North Beach.
As a ‘Bedouin’ and someone trying to create a community to support other’s online ventures the article had plenty of warm fuzzy moments for me. However, here is the rub: is this lifestyle sustainable or is it a passing fad of the time we live in?
From Web Worker Daily:
New York’s Freelancers Union is a 40,000-strong association of the new type of worker in New York state. They offer message boards, job postings, discounts, and advocacy, but their main draw is access to group insurance programs. Without any sort of collective bargaining, Freelancers Union is more like a giant buying club open to freelancers only than a traditional union, but it does serve to indicate the size of our sector of the economy in one chunk of the country. Even if you’re not in New York, you can join (it’s free); they’re planning a nationwide push and expansion of their insurance benefits, and are trying to guage interest in different areas of the country to see where to go next.
Membership is free and they are looking to expand their insurance protection to other states. Is this kind of organization something that could be useful to Utah’s web workers?
From ValleyWag’s Silicon Valley User’s Guide comes a list of handy tips for keeping the karma coming while working from that new freelancer center, the WiFi coffee hub:
- Unless the place has a sign forbidding laptop use, you’re welcome to boot up.
- If you’re not paying for Wi-Fi, spend about $5 an hour on coffee, snacks and tips. If the place is packed, make it ten.
- Not hungry? Take your five-spot and put it in the tip jar.
- Carry a power strip! One outlet can power twenty 100-watt laptops without blowing a fuse. That’s still less wattage than your hair dryer.
- Hogging the socket is the #1 laptop offense. If there aren’t enough power outlets for everyone, charge up your laptop just enough to run for an hour. Then let someone else jack in until you need to recharge.
- Laptop Offense #2: If it’s crowded, offer to share your table.
I’m not sure that Utah has quite the same going rate that Silicon Valley has (the five-spot in the tip jar) but taking advantage of free wifi without giving something back to the hosts is a big no-no.
As for the free wifi at many of the areas fine city and county libraries – well, technically that is payed for by the communities taxes. One just has to navigate the widely varying levels of security and login processes.
From the Yahoo business blog comes a story about the changing face of corporate life:
Best Buy did not invent the post-geographic office. Tech companies have been going bedouin for several years. At IBM, 40% of the workforce has no official office; at AT&T, a third of managers are untethered. Sun Microsystems Inc. calculates that it’s saved $400 million over six years in real estate costs by allowing nearly half of all employees to work anywhere they want. And this trend seems to have legs. A recent Boston Consulting Group study found that 85% of executives expect a big rise in the number of unleashed workers over the next five years. In fact, at many companies the most innovative new product may be the structure of the workplace itself.