Cheap and Fun: New Breed of Career-Friendly Office


I'm one of those new college grads who haven't connected with employment, which is not all bad -- honestly, I can't see myself crammed into a boring corporate cube. If I could scrounge up the working funds, I'd think about starting a little mini-business working for myself. Lately, I've seen advice everywhere urging people to start businesses when they can't find jobs. My dad says it's a lame idea. Is starting a business a terrible move during a bad recession?

-- J.R.T.

Going out on your own when money's tighter than a tic and too many people are looking for jobs occasionally works out fine.

More often, it doesn't, as illustrated by the majority of start-ups that croak before reaching their fifth birthdays. And sometimes they depart well before then. (Official longevity statistics are collected by the Small Business Administration, but also review a variety of data perspectives available by browsing "start-up failure rates.")

Still, when there are no jobs and your bright professional future is on hard hold if you don't do something, becoming an entrepreneurial lone ranger may be a way forward.

Although you could base your mini-company at home and have plenty of independence, the family dining room may not offer the structure and community that many young professionals need to thrive. You say renting office space is out of your price range? OK, there's a newer option that may meet your needs, one that you can probably afford. It's a 4-year-old movement called "coworking," eliminating the hyphen.


Coworking takes place in a shared workspace (such as an industrial loft property) created specifically for small-business owners, freelancers, telecommuters and other independent professionals.

HiveHaus ( in downtown San Diego is a recent addition to the real estate niche for professionals who understand the need for community to spark creativity and create feedback, but who don't think they fit into the corporate structure. The name is meant to suggest a hive of activity. The facility features small work stations that rent for $300 to $350 a month. For those who can't part with $300 a month for a workstation, desks can be rented for $60 per month, but access is restricted to between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. for 10 days each month.

The HiveHaus tenants, mostly 20- and 30-somethings, so far include creative consultants, Web site developers, computer code writers, marketing specialists and graphic designers. HiveHaus's overall image is that of a social-technology-digital haven for small entrepreneurs.

Coworking facilities are popping up all over the country (; They all differ, and some even offer free drop-in privileges.

The nation's traditional executive suites, with closed, corporate-modeled offices and virtually no community activity, are like your father's Oldsmobile, compared with the wide-open spaces where you work on your own, side by side. The price spread between the two forms of real estate is substantial and could be the difference in whether you can afford to do your own thing, or not.


Nowhere is it written that only young entrepreneurs can afford to become independently employed by opening an office in a frugal shared workspace. Put the idea on your check-it-out list of career moves when a layoff knocks you flat.


Suppose you only want to get out of the rain until the economy suns up and you can decide whether you want to aim for inclusion on a company's payroll. (The young computer programmer who is credited with creating the coworking movement, is no longer coworking -- Google grabbed him.)

Operation of a documentable business will be a big help in explaining that you didn't sit around and grow intellectually flabby during your time on the bricks. Unexplained gaps remain tough to explain to prospective employers.






Cheap and Fun: New Breed of Career-Friendly Office | Jobs & Careers
Jobs & Careers Advice - Joyce Lain Kennedy - Careers Now