Why We Love/Hate Coworking: Pros & Cons From a Fully-Remote Office

Coworking spaces like WeWork are for remote teams and freelance workers what the cubicle has been to the most boring types of companies in the “good ‘ol days” – a helpful space to get more work done, albeit put into practice in totally different ways. They’re super-trendy, they’re everywhere, and they’re on a mission to make workspaces more awesome.

As a completely remote team operating our virtual office, we’re big fans of being able to get out of our home offices every once in a while and into new places that promote productivity and community. Coworking spaces, however amazing, can have their downsides, too. Below I’ll break down the pros and cons of many coworking sites.

The Pros:

Basically located everywhere.

Living in the Bay Area, I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by a number of different WeWork locations. I can get antsy working at home for too many days in a row, so it’s great to be able to quickly change things up and reserve some space in Berkeley, Oakland, or different parts of San Francisco. Added bonus: hopping WeWorks means a different after work happy hour spot. Every. Damn. Time.

Networking galore. 

To be fair, I’m more of an introvert myself, so while I don’t regularly attend strict “networking” events for marketing professionals and the like, I’m always meeting new and interesting people around the kitchen and lounge areas. From all specialties, nationalities, and backgrounds, I’ve met wonderful CEO’s, developers, designers, writers, scientists, researchers, and so many others just by filling up my coffee mug.

Unlimited drinks and treats. 

Honestly, they had me at “free coffee,” but WeWork offers so much more than just that. Beyond constant, piping hot coffee (thank whatever Gods may exist), the spaces offer up fruit-infused water on every level, beer on tap (even local stuff!), and frequent brunch-type spreads that have me skipping breakfast at home more often than not. They certainly know how to make a lady feel hydrated and caffeinated all day long.

Pretty affordable for infrequent users.

We’re scrappy and like to keep costs down to a minimum. I’m also lazy and love to work in the mornings from the comfort of my own sweatpants. So, this works for me when I want to get some “office time” without breaking the company bank. It’s also cheaper than other similar coworking spaces in my area, but with the added benefit of more pleasant atmosphere and more location options across the Bay Area.

Good for shaking up the scenery. 

If you flip open any trendy design magazine these days, there are probably a dozen items in any given WeWork lounge that you could point out. While different from location to location, the aesthetic of every coworking space is very clean, open and warm, all of which are very conducive to a great work environment. Plus, getting stuck in a home office for too long can wear thin on your creative juices; heading to a place with completely different scenery is just plain good for your brain.

 

The Cons:

My god, the music. 

Music is one of my all-time favorite tools for getting un-stuck, plowing through projects, and responding to emails. It becomes a distraction, however, when it’s repeated over and over (and over) again. While admittedly catchy at first, it became clear quickly that coworking spaces recycle their playlists way too often. Like a bad radio station, they pump pop music and indie songs into my head every minute of the day – sometimes even in the bathroom stalls. A word to the wise: bring noise-canceling headphones.

Phone booth hogs a-plenty. 

Seeing as I’m a nomad, often going to multiple locations, I don’t have a single home base or office while I’m there to take calls from. WeWork has single-serving phone booths to help with these limitations, which is great, but there are frequently people who take advantage of the booth time limits, putting a strain on the rest of us. This isn’t as big of a problem in larger facilities, but for smaller locations with fewer booths, it can create a lot of issues.

Zero privacy (with the basic plan).

Open offices are all the rage, but the convenience of an open office can be overshadowed by the intense lack of privacy that it comes with. I’m restricted to the lounge areas only with the basic plan, so I’m placed near the kitchen area, games, and lobby, with people filtering in and out, often talking loudly. I’m all for having a good time, but it’s hard to stick to a deadline with constant, raised laughter coming in through your headphones. (Again, I reiterate: get noise-canceling ones if you can).

Games everywhere.

Two-on-two and other group games are great for a break after a long meeting or brainstorm, but not so great for being forced to sit right next to. In some WeWork offices, it’s ping pong (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to toss a ball back to someone with a beer in their hand while trying to craft up some content), in some it’s fooseball (don’t even get me started about that whack-whack-whacking). No matter the game, though, you’re in for flying pieces and bouts of loudness.

Personal space (or lack thereof).

Separate from just lack of privacy overall is the issue of personal space. Picture me, cozied up into a nice section of the couch next to the window, productive as ever; in walks someone on a cold call, talking loudly into their headset, coming out of their office to give their colleagues some room while they talk. They sit right next to me, no bother that I’m also talking to clients via online chat. Of course, these problems are common for open-space offices, but can you blame a woman for wanting a little courtesy space?

All ranting aside, we love WeWork (and other coworking spaces) and all of the flexibility they provide us. Do you have any remote working stories to share (positive or negative)? We’re listening in the comments below! 

An Interactive Deep-Dive Into the Most Repetitive Pop Music

I stumbled upon this article earlier today, and, as avid music listeners, we’re all a little obsessed.

In the interactive post, Colin Morris breaks down the science of popular music throughout history with design and data presentation that makes us *swoon*. After (probably) spending a hellacious amount of time on research, analysis and in-depth visualizations, he pieced together a comprehensive study examining one question: are pop lyrics getting more repetitive?

In the article, Colin actually measures the repetitiveness of pop music artists using their complete discographies. Here’s a taste of what he covers:

I know a repetitive song when I hear one, but translating that intuition into a number isn’t easy. One thing we might try is looking at the number of unique words in a song, as a fraction of the total number of words. But this metric would call the following lyric excerpts equally repetitive:

These are both 52 words long and use the same 23-word vocabulary, but the first one is clearly more repetitive, because it arranges words in a predictable, repetitive order.

The GIF below compares the repetitive of all songs vs. Top 10 Billboard category songs over time, from 1960 to today. It’s glaringly obvious that popular music and repetitive lyrics go hand-in-hand.

Animated GIF  - Find & Share on GIPHY

You can expect a ton of interactive features, and even a Discography Search Tool that lets you real-time visualize the repetitiveness of your favorite artists’ music. Once you play around with it (try not to get sucked in all morning like I did), you’ll never not hear the repeated lyrics again.

A few interesting stats also pulled from the article’s findings:

1. Rappers like J. Cole and Eminem tend to be consistently non-repetitive.

2. 4 of Taylor Swift’s 5 most repetitive songs are from her transitional album, 1989.

3. Madonna has a long, consistent legacy of highly repetitive music.

4. Over 50% of Rihanna’s songs fall within the SUPER repetitive category.

Check out the complete interactive article here and drop your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Designer Appreciation Post: Part 4

We have the utmost respect for the visual crafters, letter-makers, and inspiration shakers. In this ongoing series, we wanted to give due props to the artists we’ve taken note of lately. Thanks for making stuff beautiful.

EMBROIDERY ART BY SHEENA LIAM

Not only is she the past winner of Asia’s Next Top Model, Liam’s art is sublte and delicate embroidery. Featuring mostly female figures and the use of string as hair, it’s evocative without being over-wrought.

 

COLORFUL MURALS BY HUEMAN

Recently, Allison Tinati AKA Hueman finished the epically gorgeous mural in downtown LA as an ode to Joel Bloom, the community activist. It’s hard not to see why her murals and paintings are both a compelling reason to pick up a spray can, but also a lesson in masterful detail and color.

 

STREET ART BY DAAN BOTLEK

Rotterdam-based artist Daan Botlek fills walls with his trademark anonymous figures as they interact with the architecture around them. The artist incorporates basic geometric elements, existing shadows, architectural elements, and found textures to depict silhouette figures that appear to fight against gravity or even themselves.

 

 

THE DEVIL’S ROPE BY ANDREW EFFENDY

The Devil’s Rope is an experimental type piece by designer Andrew Effendy.

… a series of wires pulled across two wooden posts. They are treated to look like barbed wire, except at the spiny, barbed sections where the wires form letters of the alphabet, A through Z. As a whole, the piece seems like a sinister fence of letters, its menacing script casting peculiar shadows on the walls. The allusion of language as a barricade is unavoidable. Effendy’s piece makes you mull over the role of language and how—especially, in today’s world of information overload—language has the power to encourage progress as well as impede it.

(via type goodness)


See all of our designer shout-outs here!

On The Hunt: Recruiting and Business Development Tools

Recently, I have taken the reins on some more client-recruiting strategies to bring in new engagements and find compelling projects. Not always so easy. For our part, Oliver + Sons is a boutique agency, and many clients don’t even know that we’re what they need. So personally recruiting interested companies based on my individual resume or profile has turned into the best process to reel in new business. Below is a list of resources and platforms that I do our internal BizDev hustle on.

AngelList: Forget LinkedIn. Okay, don’t forget it, but it’s not my favorite when it comes to getting in front of the businesses who need Oliver + Sons. Remember how notoriously spammy LinkedIn’s onboarding campaigns used to be (you signed up and they auto-emailed everyone in your contacts to “Join You” on LinkedIn? Suuuuuper embarrassing *spam-shudders*) which led most users to turn off their notifications from LinkedIn-related emails altogether. Which is great for your inbox, but not-so-great for actual Networking. AngelList, however, has made a good connection between your inbox and their platform. So when a business is “Interested” in us, I see it front & center without logging in. Additionally, those clicking “Interested” are C-level rather than an HR or recruiting jockey. Even better, the more you use and update your listing, the more popular you become to those looking.

Glassdoor: Know your worth. They’re on a mission and the campaign is working. They have a great tool to truly find out what you ought to be paid, and even if you’re undervalued, it’s a revealing “The More You Know” (cue rainbow) moment. Not only that but reading the reviews and salaries of others in your field is an indispensable tool for any professional, no matter your industry. It is also great for shadowing aspirational companies and agencies. I try to investigate workplaces that treat their employees right and do as they have done. 

WeWork: If you’ve ever been remote or freelance, then I don’t need to explain why WeWork is an essential part of our workplace life. As a co-working office, but also as a field of recruiting, WeWork is ripe for the talent in design, copywriting, coding and networking. Finding that first phase start-up who needs a trusted branding firm (*ahem*) or an engineer who is ready to take their product to market (*cough cough*) makes the networking element more natural. 

MediaBistro: Marketing & design jobs! All of the marketing & design jobs! While larger opportunities than AngelList, MediaBistro offers a look at who’s hiring in the larger creative departments. Witnessing the ever-changing field of design, technology, and digital marketing, I like to use MediaBistro to broaden my buzzword lexicon and job title vocabulary. Plus, it’s always interesting to see how the big media companies pitch themselves and their career opportunities to a highly-targeted group of people. 

Alright, I can’t give you all the secrets, but that will have to satisfy your current cravings for Internet-business-talking for now. Find Oliver + Sons on Twitter and let me know your favorite BD resources.