I've taken up residence at the Cambridge Coworking Center (a.k.a C3) which resides within the Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square. Below are my thoughts after working there for a little over a month as well as some thoughts about working from home vs. not as a single entrepreneur.
First, some background. I've been pursuing a project for the last few months and had been working out of my home. The benefits of working out of the house were: affordability, close proximity, quiet and comfort. What's not to love!?
Plenty, it turns out!
Working From Home
The location isn't great after all (well, for a web or software company.) I live in Brookline. I'm at a stage where I'm attending a lot of events and out meeting people, usually in Kendall Square or a couple of the usual locations. So, I was spending a lot of time traveling between those places and my house. And, frankly, sometimes on cold and dark January nights, that trip kept me from getting out to as many events as I should have.
Home can be distracting. I'm a pretty disciplined guy and I can work intently for long periods of time on my own, but boy, did I find the house distracting after a while! Doing laundry, emptying the dishwasher would all become more pressing as I wrestled with a tough problem. And I felt as more time went by, this was getting worse.
Home can be isolating, and this is what really put me over the top. Even though I was getting out, I was really by myself for hours and hours and somedays days at a time. I was getting into a negative feedback loop of sorts where the less contact I had with people, the less contact I sought. This is exactly not what I needed to be doing as I developed my project.
Working From the C3
I decided to fix the problem. I'd attended many events at the CIC and had heard about the C3 and frankly I have a real bias towards Kendall Square. The price was right, and so after a quick tour, I became a resident at C3. After a month, I have to say that I'm a happy camper.
The facility itself is great. You get a non-dedicated place to sit, to put your laptop, a power outlet and a wireless network connection. So, pretty much everything you need! The furniture and the building itself are the nicest I've experienced in my career at startup and early stage companies (where the furniture is always second hand and crappy and the roof always leaks.)
There are "phone booth" rooms where you can take or make a calls, conference rooms, as well as printers and copiers. And there's food and drink: apples, bananas, pears, chips, cereal, nuts, yogurt, ice cream, soda, coffee, espresso, and I've forgotten a bunch of other stuff. Nothing is metered which is zero-hassle and thus awesome.
There are other people there. I find being around smart, hard working and energetic people motivating. Seeing other people passionately executing on their projects challenges me to to the same.
It should be said though, that the C3 is not a clubhouse. And while many people seem to know each other well, it's clear that this is a product of time and people getting to know each other. (I bring this up because coworking spaces have often been portrayed to me as places where everyone is working shoulder to shoulder, and I find that this, unsurprisingly, isn't the case. People to whom I've spoken at other Boston/Cambridge coworking spaces have recounted similar experiences to me. I'd be interested to hear others' experiences.)
The location is choice. I get an electric buzz just from working in Kendall. The C3 itself is steps away from the Kendall/MIT Red Line stop. The C3 in turn, is steps away from the places where Boston web community startups and startup events happen: CIC (in the same building,) NERD, Dogpatch, or Voltage. Getting to Central Square or over to MassChallenge (or #WhiskeyFriday) is just a short Red Line trip away. Plus, I get to see my good friends who work in Kendall more often.
It's been a very positive experience so far. I'm having more fun and I'm getting more done. I think the cost of the space ($250/month) is made up for in increased productivity, increased sanity, and reduced travel times!