Finding the right place to write can be a challenge, but it’s just possible that this new startup could be offering exactly what writers need.
If you subscribe to my newsletter or follow this blog, you’ll already know that I’ve recently been trying out a new shared office concept called Spacehop. It’s a bit like AirBnB, but for work spaces. You register on the Spacehop website, browse for a place to work (this might be somebody’s home, a desk in an office, or a table in a creative space) and book it for the day. Et voila, you turn up and do your thing in peace and harmony.
At least that’s the theory, and it worked that way in practice for me, too. As with AirBnB, Spacehop hosts have 24 hours to accept or decline your booking, and on one occasion it did turn out that one of my choices wasn’t available. But there were many alternative workspaces available for the dates I wanted and within reasonable travelling distance.
My Spacehop experiences were all incredibly positive. Hosts were friendly and went out of their way to make sure I had everything I needed for my working day. As with Air BnB, identity verification and the two-way online review system help ensure that everything operates safely for ‘hopper’ and host.
Slightly to my surprise, Spacehopping helped me be far more productive and effective than usual. At the time of my hops, I was wrestling with a very big and complex piece of writing, one which usually saw me end the day with an incipient migraine. But there I was at home time with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. My theory? A change of scene does wonders for one’s cognitive powers, and on far more than a purely conscious level.
This leads me to another observation. Quite apart from providing affordable, high quality places to work, Spacehop offers an experience which supports creativity. I was charmed and uplifted by the spaces I worked in, and by interacting with my hosts. I also really loved the great tea- and coffee-making facilities provided (everything from aeropress coffee to gorgeous herbal tea from Greece).
I was using Spacehop while my home office was being renovated. But I’ll certainly use it again in the future. Here are the situations I think it’ll be useful for:
- For meetings with clients – some hosts are happy to allow meetings, which could be a real plus for me.
- When I’m working on another unwieldy, problematic project and need to turbocharge my creative and problem-solving powers.
- To stop myself engaging in displacement activities (usually housework, the only time I’m ever enthusiastic about such things).
- When there’s a deadline looming and I need enough quiet and solitude to crack on.
- Or, conversely, when I want to work among people but can’t face doing that in a coffee shop.
The great thing about Spacehop is that it’s cheap enough to bring this kind of co-working service within the reach of many more writers. Prices start from around £1 an hour, which is even affordable if you’re a student looking for a quiet spot to work on your dissertation. It’s even better value when you consider that those tea and coffee facilities I mentioned earlier are all included in the price.
What would be a welcome addition is an indication in the original listing of whether spaces are suitable for use by writers with disabilities, since some of the places I visited wouldn’t have worked out for me had I been a wheelchair user, for example. And I’d love to see the service expand to areas outside London. Then Spacehop would really fulfil its promise as an indispensable asset for writers and other creative freelancers.