.This past month I've been the guest of OfficePort in Chicago and have really enjoyed the space and the vibe there. I'm still having trouble adequately describing the concept of coworking, and specifically how OfficePort works, though.
In OfficePort's case, think deluxe health club, but rather than working your body, you are working your brain (on your laptop and phone) with the goal of making your business grow. Members get a key fob for getting access to their space 24/7. Lockers are provided, as well as wireless internet access, landline telephone, conference rooms with AV equipment, printing/fax/scanning, and coffee. No towels. Maybe you read about it and other Chicago coworking spaces in Wailin Wong's piece originally published in the Tribune in August.
Some OfficePort members have been organizing coffees and networking events for other members and non-member colleagues.
One of the poshest coworking spaces I've seen is Office Links at the Willis Tower. Rather than cubbies, they have offices with walls and doors and some spectacular views of the city.
Working artists understand the coworking concept right away. It is rare that artist have the right kind of space, or enough space, to do their work from a typical home, so many need to find space in other locations. In Chicago, there's quite a range of spaces for artists, such as what is offered at the Chicago Photography Center and Lillstreet Art Center or at the Flat Iron Arts Building and Fine Arts Building.
Besides the room to work and facilities offered, the creative energy shared is what really makes OfficePort and other coworking spaces work and feel encouraging.
Encouraging also describes the lovely Writers WorkSpace in Edgewater, which I recently visited. There's some other North Side coworking spaces. I look forward to checking out one day soon.
The ultimate in encouraging environments for artists and writers is Ragdale in Lake Forest. Artists looking for studio spaces should start by contacting the Chicago Artists Coalition.
I've got plans, but for a little while longer, my home office will remain my headquarters, though I'll be working at my favorite libraries and coffee joints occasionally. Members of OfficePort, and possibly Writers WorkSpace, can expect to see me now and then too, because they offer a great place to work and encourage the kind of professional and creative environment I'm in need of.