Co-working facilities for social-hungry solo freelancers

Cool piece in Businessweek about the rising popularity of "co-working" spaces for independent, internet-age freelancers who are burnt out on working from their homes (cons: too isolating, makes you crazy, no work/life boundaries) and don't want to just work out of Starbucks (cons: too public, not networking-conducive, laptop theft, rising price of lattes). Image above, hatfactory in dogpatch, San Francisco. Snip from story:

Over the past few years, co-working facilities–both grassroots, co-op-like versions and for-profit models–have started popping up across the country and the world, from Seattle to Copenhagen. A co-working wiki hosts pages for dozens of other cities with co-working initiatives in progress. And while the concept of shared office space is nothing new to entrepreneurs, an increasing number of them are signing on and finding that the community-building and networking benefits outweigh even the virtues of a shared fax machine.

In a recent report on the future of small business, the Silicon-Valley based Institute for the Future pegged co-working as a trend to watch over the next decade (see, 1/31/07, "The Face of Entrepreneurship"). After co-working first took off with clusters of free-agent programmers and writers, its flexibility and low cost have also proven a good match for startups unwilling to sign a long-term lease. Because many of these facilities operate on a gym-membership model that doesn't assign workers to specific desks, co-working is cheaper than most subleasing arrangements. And unlike traditional business incubators, co-working isn't just for startups with high-growth potential.

The study's lead author, Steve King, says the increasing popularity of co-working facilities reflects the rise of one-person "personal businesses" as well as a broader fluidity between virtual and real-world communities.

Link to "Where the Coffee Shop Meets the Cubicle," by Kerry Miller. The online feature includes a neat slideshow of "co-work" spaces around the US and Canada (no photo credits, but I'll gladly add one to this post if someone provides info!)

Update: Those of you in San Francisco may want to consider swinging by hatfactory for an open house they're holding this Wednesday, Feb. 28:

On February 28, Wednesday, the Hat Factory Coworking space in San
Francisco is throwing its doors open to welcome interested folks who
want to give us a try, for free. Come and work with us during the day,
from 11 AM to 5:00 PM. Bring your laptop and that manuscript,
screenplay, or killer app you've been working on and leave the
crowded, loud coffee shops behind. We'll also be cooking a big meal
starting around 5pm with free dinner served after 6pm. Come and eat
with us! We'll have a projector set up so everyone can show off their

(Thanks, Brad Neuberg)