There are times when you need an office space but don’t want or need to commit to a long term lease. This is exactly the situation I faced this week. With a huge pile of work and a client that needs me on site for half of each day, I needed to find a place to work for the rest of my day. That’s how I entered the world of shared offices.
Long time readers of Lifehacker might recall when I built my own office a few years ago by repurposing a shed. Well, the world has moved on and I'm no longer at that house so I need to find a new place to work.
After asking a few friends and hitting the search engines I decided to give The Cluster a go. It's a shared office space that offers permanent spaces, hot desks and short-term workspaces. Given my workload for the week, I opted for a full week of use on a casual basis. However, you can enter into permanent and other arrangements.
My workspace at the Cluster is adequate for someone working with a laptop. There are plenty of power outlets, a 24-inch display I can use as well as mice, keyboards and a steady supply of coffee. If I need them, there are several meeting rooms I can book and there is Internet access, printers, fax services and all the other infrastructure I'd need. They even have their own IT support guy and can collect mail
The location is great as it's in the Melbourne CBD and a short walk from Flinders Street and Southern Cross Stations, trams lines on Collins Street and lots of cafes. The front desk staff is extremely friendly and helpful.
My only criticism thus far is that it's not the quietest space with lots of small teams working there. So there's a constant hum of chatter as well the odd mobile phone ringing a little too loudly. However, that's easily remedied by a decent of headphones. And, as the office is filled with people from lots of different backgrounds, the buzz can fuel your creative juices.
Permanent spaces start at $140 per week with hot desks starting at $110. We've opted for a casual, one-week arrangement that costs $180. It's not free but access to the services and not having to mess around getting set up as everything is already there makes life really easy as I step in and out of the office.
Are you working in a shared office space? We'd love to hear about your experiences good and bad.