Coworking in Philadelphia

Is looking for work a job?  I think so, and a full time one with plenty of chances for overtime as well!  And one that surely deserves the best office!

I am back in Philadelphia after decades overseas and ready to begin my new life.  Edtech calls to me as does freelance work in any form of writing.  Blogging tempts me as well as I it will allow me to showcase my photography.

After weeks working at home with feeble wifi I am noticing diminishing returns in terms of productivity.  My personal website has not moved beyond finding a host for it, my digital photography collection remains a tangled mess, and I have not learned much about my target industries.  More time seems to be devoted to shopping and cooking gourmet meals.  I feel discouraged as I am used to doing projects collaboratively and calling on friends when I hit a technical barrier. Social isolation weighs heavily on me.

A search for a local WordPress group brings a chance encounter with my first coworking group.  I hurry down to my appointment and am impressed by the warmth of the young creative who presides over this vast open space full of people pecking away at computers, helping themselves to snacks in the kitchen, or lounging in the sofa areas.  There are standing desks, seated desks, podcast rooms, telephone rooms….the list of amenities is growing.  There are internal networking channels to keep in touch while in the space and external ones as well.  I am promised that the space includes numerous bloggers who could assist me in my efforts to become one.   I leave with a noticeable lift to my spirit feeling that I may have found a place for myself at last.

The following week on a hunch that I had just seen the tip of the iceberg I begin a all out search for other coworking spaces.  Family advises me to choose my location carefully.  The second space is not only closer to home but comes with reduced membership fees at my favorite health club as well as free beer.  I gladly take up the offer of a 3 day pass and settle in for my first day of ‘work’.  The space is cozy and the views are limited but what I notice first and foremost is the large TV playing a business news channel all day long.  Although it distracts me I do manage to put in a full days work which feels great.  A third place I visit has a noticeable corporate feel to it with many larger companies in it.  The manager willingly negotiates the fees and perks with me bringing them in line with the other two spaces I have visited and best of all offering a lock-up service for my laptop but not the coveted reduced membership fees at my favorite health club.  On a whim I write to the membership manager at the health club asking which coworking spaces have reduced fees with the club.  She gives me a new name and I quickly set up an early morning appointment.  The moment I arrive I am smitten.  The place is open plan with the only barriers made of clear glass.  Large windows provide a panoramic and breathtaking view of the city.  The décor is right out of Architectural Digest with industrial chairs, rough wooden tables and comfy leather couches.  Despite the higher cost I sign up the next day never looking back.

Two weeks have passed since I started ‘working’  (and you have to agree that a job search is a full time job).  My coworkers come from a variety of industries from edtech to delivery to law to urban planning to name but a few.  The occupants represent a nice gender, age, and ethnic mix as well.  I am beginning to understand the startup economy and how it functions in Philly.  I am happy.  I get in a 6am, beaver away for a few hours until breakfast and my coworkers arrive, take a fitness break and beaver on until I have 7 or 8 hours of work behind me before packing my knapsack and heading home.  I have made great progress with my projects such as in photograph archiving, my personal website is ‘up’ albeit in a rough state, I am increasingly well read on digital recruiting and searching methods, I have started my own job hunt club, and I am beginning to invite people to my ‘office’.  The only thing missing is a paycheck.

And I am not alone!  A lunchtime visit to the monthly  Show and Tell Meetup event at Indy Hall coworking space exposes me to Cat Johnson beamed in via Zoom videoconferencing from California.  Keywords, content marketing, blogging, and ‘evergreen’ posts are all part of the conversation. Mention is made of setting up a coworking environment in a public library.  According to Cat the coworking movement is going from a community focused one to a booming industry.

Back to my search for that elusive salary…

My next venture involves untangling the unsavory web of digital recruiting and job searching.