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    I left the house, and I liked it.

    I left the house, and I liked it

    Reflections of a first time coworker…

    This month we asked CTO Chief, Sarah to reflect on her first month (ever) in a coworking space and here is what she had to say. 

    242h

    So, my thoughts on my first month of being in a coworking space: I can honestly say that now that I’m able to look back on my time working from home, I can only laugh at myself in semi-exhausted hysteria. We all hear the stories of entrepreneurs and how tough it is, the sleepless nights and needing to be a jack of all trades. Not to mention that creating a successful business becomes synonymous with how little sleep you are getting, instead of how efficient you are actually being. Now two thoughts come to mind: first, that the jack of all trades is the master of none, and second, a line I remember from Scrooge Mc’Duck: “work smarter not harder.” I am now acutely aware of both in hindsight. 

    So perhaps, before I go on, I should mention what it is that I do for a living (to put this all in perspective). I am an Airbnb host, as well as an interior designer for Airbnb spaces and vacation rental homes. The focus of my interior design company is offering e-design packages, and while I’m based in Cape Town most of my clients thus far have been based in America. Sounds ideal, right? Airbnb host and designer, working from the comfort of home with an incredible view of Table Mountain, earning in US dollars.

    No, No No. Let me elaborate. Airbnb guests, as incredible as they are, are more interested in discussing the tourist attractions the city has to offer than your design conundrums (or, more importantly, acknowledging your looming deadline). The two roles become very blurred, and it’s hard to distinguish which one is the most important to nurture in that moment, as both are in fact income-generating. The human desire to be “likable” wins, and you find yourself negotiating how many hour of sleep are necessary for human survival while answering trivial touristy questions.

    The fallacy that I am living the dream of living in Cape Town while working with American clients and earning US dollars needs to be right sized, and quickly. Why? Well, I have two reasons, but both come down to the same frustrating issue: the internet. Firstly, have you ever tried having Skype consultations while you are trying to troubleshoot your WiFi connection? Let me tell you, it is most unpleasant. Secondly, the Design software I use is available online, which has two benefits: I don’t have to pay for licencing software, and I don’t have to upgrade my laptop (which solves the start-up’s ongoing problem of managing expenses). Have you ever tried to explain to Americans, a nation renowned for suing the likes of Nike because their shoelace came undone, that you are unable to meet your deadline because the internet has stopped working? There is not enough Prozac in the world to prepare you for that WhatsApp conversation.

    So five consultants and a few twitter posts later I realise that I need to “cease fighting” and get on with the designs that are now very overdue, as Uncle Sam is a bit hot under the collar. The only problem is that the WiFi still isn’t working, and the technician is only due the following day. So the only solution is the WLAN cable (which is too short to reach the desk) and I end up setting up shop on the kitchen floor. My Airbnb guest is strongly advised that cooking dinner is a really bad option given the current state of affairs, and is thrust a takeout menu.

    The other conundrum one faces is the design of your interior space: Is it that your bed is too close to your desk, or your desk too close to your bed? Both are true. There are days when you just seem to be in the flow and the ideas feel endless and you really want ride the wave, so to speak. So as you climb into bed and the next idea hits you like a lightning bolt, the desk is just too close to resist jumping up and switching on the laptop to start beavering away again till the early hours. The following day is generally when your motivation and your concentration are at an all-time low. Then it the bed that is too close to your desk. It would be so easy to just jump in and have that refreshing nap, the only thing stopping you is guilt. If it weren’t for that feeling of guilt and the fear of missing that one email that is about to change your destiny forever, you would Nike it (or said another way, Just do it). 

    275hSo instead you convince yourself that to carry on working is the best option. You spend hours researching whether a WordPress or Wix website is the best option. So the journey into the internet begins, and suddenly I am wondering when it was that I started caring about Brad and Angelina’s divorce? And just as I am arriving at a point where I am about to make a decision as to whether I am team Brad or team Jolie, the internet bombs out on me, again. 

    So, given my flair for drama, I think I have painted a fairly accurate picture of some of the frustrations experienced while working from home. It still does not negate that starting a business is stressful, and there are serious and sometimes paralyzing fears regarding expenditure. So why did I opt to join a co–work space? Sanity is the most concise answer I can give you. I based my final decision on this simple formula: Number of chargeable hours lost due to internet issues multiplied by my hourly rate. Viola! It suddenly made sense. 

    In fact I could in all probability rent two desks a months based on my elementary calculation. Why would I even contemplate two desks? So that I had somewhere for my ego and a whole new set of fears to sit while I was trying to get work done. I could not believe that lunacy had returned on my first day at my new desk – it was like my first day at school all over again. What if nobody likes me? What if everyone thinks what I do for a job is stupid? What if they peer over my shoulder watching me as I surf the World Wide Web?

    Honestly, as if someone could even read the words on my screen when they are five desks away. The words are smaller than the last letter on those eye tests that optometrists make you take. The other truth that was hard for ego to digest is that people are not like cats: they don’t hover around my computer watching the mouse dart across the screen. They are genuinely interested in themselves and committed to their daily tasks.

    Having said all that, it does not mean that they don’t care about you – there are plenty of opportunities to engage over the coffee machine, while preparing lunch, or on the collaboration platform. And yes, they may know someone who knows someone who is interested in your services. With such a variety of companies that use the space, I have been fortunate enough to meet someone who has untangled the spider web of confusion I had spun around WordPress vs Wix. So, combined with the advice, step-by-step guidance, and fear of what people will think of me if they find out if I am team Brad or team Jolie, I have managed to focus my efforts and get on with tasks.

    What it really comes down to is – yup, you guessed it – connection, both internet and human.

    Sarah is the founder of Urban Savvy Design, a consultancy based in Cape Town that provides bespoke design services to Air B&B hosts and operators.

    Contact her:

    sarah@urbansavvydesign.com | https://www.facebook.com/UrbanSavvyDesigns/

     

    March 21, 2017
    Africa Cape Town co-working Collaborate community cowork coworking Internet networking Not for Profit Shared Office SouthAfrica

    Conservation Coworking

    Coworking unusual

    CSA Ops Team 2016

    January 2016

    I received a phone call from Amanda, head of Operations for Conservation South Africa. They need office space. I was a little thrown by the idea that a “traditional” crowd like CSA were keen to explore coworking, but Amanda explained that they were in a desperate situation as their current office had awful internet and they simply can’t get any work done.

    When Amanda and the team arrived for the first viewing I could tell from the expressions and the look of fear on their faces, that this would be a giant leap from what they know. “We have to work in an open plan office?” I overheard someone saying and “But what if they hear us on the phone?” from another. As I’ve done my fair share of viewings, I thought, well this was worth a shot, but clearly coworking is not for them.

    To my absolute surprise, Amanda called me a day or two later; “The rest of the team want to see the space, when can we come for a 2nd viewing?” To cut a long story short, they came and saw and the board approved the move. From day one, due to our rather brilliant internet here, the team were up and running with a tunnel straight to their USA data center, a first for team CSA I might add, and they just blended right in to the 3rd floor.

    At first, there was reluctance from the rest of the CSA crew to adapt to this “new” way of working, but to their credit, the Operations team focused on the bits that worked and before they knew it, they were 21st century coworkers and loving it. Meeting new people over a cup of coffee, bringing in cookies to share with the office and even joining the office lunch at Dias Tavern!

    It was an absolute pleasure having the team here for 6 months. They’ve now moved into their own (bigger office) in a more central location (Southern Suburbs) for the extended team to make use of as well.

    Amanda and I got to chatting a few weeks before the big move and what delighted me most was to hear from her that their time at Cape Town Office has hands down been the most productive time, ever for CSA. They’ve learnt so much from the experience in fact that when they designed their new office, they replicated their work pod from Cape Town Office so that the team can continue to work together, rather than splitting them up into separate offices as they did before.

    Well done to Amanda and the team for being brave enough to try something new & we wish you all the best in your new CSA home.

    I thought I’d share this as a testament to the fact that we do work better when we cowork!

    Photocred to CTO member, David Harris

    September 16, 2016
    Africa Business Cape Town co-working coworking Entrepreneur Internet Shared Office SouthAfrica

    Internet: how much is enough?

    Learning

    Internet.

    How much is enough?

    South Africa seems to be on its own planet when it comes to internet and in the nigh on 5 years I’ve been back, I’ve had to learn….fast from novice to level expert, well I think so.

    I spent nearly 12 years in the UK and there I pretty much saw the birth of broadband and it was so accessible that our house in the Western Isles of Scotland was gifted, yes gifted a desktop PC, modem and of course internet with it. As a South African, I couldn’t believe this generosity and of course took full advantage of this amazing resource. I surfed and surfed and surfed and no care in the world about data, what was data anyway?

    Well in 2010 that all changed. I was asked the question by the friendly man in the Telkom shop the day I opened my ADSL account, “How much data would you like?” I looked at him with a very puzzled expression on my face and simply replied, quite confidently, “I’d like all of it please”.  He laughed. I soon realised I was in a warped Oliver Twist novel with my bowl out in front of the Telkom man, “please Sir, can I have some more”.

    I now know how much data I need to do my work, so if I’m asked that question today I’ll have a very different answer. Fact is I don’t really use that much for the work I do. Skype (lots of), emails of course and CRM systems is where the bulk goes, so when we looked at options for Fibre

    Bandwidth Bandwidth Bandwidth

    Fast forward to 2015 and the dawn of accessible Fibre. So what have I learnt? A few things actually:

    1. Bandwidth is king
    2. Find out what your contention ratio is
    3. Negotiated data bundles = great value
    4. Have a back up plan in place, even fibre can go dark

    We took our time to find the provider that suited our needs best at Cape Town Office and as we don’t have corporate budgets, we had to be very selective. Early on we learnt about a little thing called contention ratios. What’s this you ask? Well that’s (and this is my understanding of it) the minimum bandwidth the provider can guarantee at any one time. We have a 2:1 contention ratio at CTO, both for local and international traffic which works brilliantly and in real applications does the job!

    Of course you could work from home and sort out your own Fibre, but be warned … it aint cheap. Costs for a 20Mbps line start at R7,000 + VAT without data and in any currency, that’s a fair amount of money.

    Think of it this way – you could rent 3 desks at our office with the 100 Mbps Fibre with free coffee or tea, if that’s your thing, for less than that per month and still have spare change for beer!

    Kinda makes sense, right?

    January 22, 2016
    Cape Town co-working Collaborate community cowork coworking Design Digital Entrepreneur Entrepreneur Network flexoffice hub Internet networking Shared Office SME SouthAfrica Start-up workcation

    Five reasons to join a coworking space.

     

    photo-1433650552684-d4004a945d6c (1)

    So this is something I get asked quite a lot and I hasten to add that it’s usually from people who have never worked in a coworking space or people that haven’t heard of coworking before *gasp*, but yes…it’s true, there are people out there who haven’t heard of coworking.

    I think there are many really great reasons, but as we’re all busy people I’d like to distill it down to just five great things and I guess you could say reasons why it’s great to be in a coworking space.

    1. You’re not alone.

    Now even though this sounds pretty obvious, I think it’s really important to remember that humans are naturally quite social beings. We like to meet new people. We like to share our experiences and most of all I think we like to be reminded that we’re not alone.  So being part of a coworking community like Cape Town Office is a great way to not spend what is a large chunk of your day/s alone.

    2. You get all the trimmings, without the price tag.

    This is a pretty great reason all on it’s own to join a coworking space. With the collective buying power a coworking space has, you get enterprise class internet (or you should) without the hefty price tag, for example. Installing a fibre optic internet line, if you’re lucky enough to be in an area where it’s possible, can cost thousands. Then there’s the monthly premium which again can cost you thousands per month so as a freelancer or a small business that’s a really tough expense to swallow every month.

    3. Resources.

    Here at Cape Town Office we have loads of really talented people. Graphic designers, Illustrators, Website developers and even a guy who sells aluminium components to the building industry. Now, granted the last one isn’t exactly something you can make use of daily, but being a couple of desks away from someone who can help create your new brand identity, a cute logo or even your new website can be a very handy thing!

    4. Productivity.

    I know we all like to think of ourselves as self-starters, energy bunnies who jump out of bed in the morning with a big smile on our face ready to face the day, but let’s be honest. There are many days where the mere idea of getting out of bed can be a challenge. Here’s where having “somewhere to go” can be a life saver. You get in, grab a coffee and get to it! Head down for a few hours and before you know it you’ve conquered most of your To-Do list and suddenly the world is a sunnier place.

    5. It’s fun.

    In a coworking space like ours, there are loads of cool and quirky things you can do when you need to get up from your desk and take a break. Games, yes proper arcade games with Pac-Man, Space Invaders and even Moonpatrol on tap…suddenly it’s all about setting that high score. We’ve also got an old school vinyl record player with heaps of tunes and if you’re still feeling a little bored you can always grab a deck of cards and have a few games with someone.

    So there you have it. Five really great reasons to get out of your pajamas and book a desk here at Cape Town Office or any of the coworking spaces in Cape Town for that matter. It’s important that you find your tribe and settle in to a great working experience, so give me a shout if you want to check out CTO.

    Lizelle

    Your host at Cape Town Office

    August 10, 2015
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    These major coworking events will take place in 2015

    Coworking-Africa-Conference-2015-970X180

    Almost 300,000 people have worked in nearly 6000 coworking spaces worldwide by the end of this year. The coworking movement acquires maturity, expanding with bigger spaces and more locations, an higher diversity of business models, and exploring more niches. This development will be also reflected in more coworking events next year. Asia’s first coworking unconference will be held in Bali.

    The Global Coworking Unconference Conference is going to California. However, it won’t take place only once, but three times, by popping up in Australia and Canada as well. And Africa will get its first dedicated conference on coworking, in Cape Town. It’s time to mark your fresh calendar with the upcoming major events on coworking in 2015!

    Click on the link to get the full list –> http://www.deskmag.com/en/these-major-coworking-conferences-events-barcamps-will-take-place-in-2015

    Via http://www.deskmag.com/

    deskmag

    March 09, 2015
    Business Business Plan Cape Town co-working Content Creator Entrepreneur Entrepreneur Network Hot Desk Infographic Internet Investment Shared Office SME Social media Start-up

    Thank you!

    Well here we are team, the nearly nearly end of 2014 and pheweeee what a ride it’s been! I wanted to take a minute and thank all of you who helped make this year a very special one in the life of CTO. Too many to mention by name, and I’m sure you’ll forgive me for not running off a list of names like the shiny people do at the Oscar’s.

    So, please accept this token of thanks for me for your contribution, love and support.

    A quick recap of 2014

    We started the year in our old 3rd floor offices with a full compliment of monkeys all beavering away in a very hot and rather stuffy office. It was challenging to say the least, with no airconditioning to help us cope in the heat of Cape Town summer. But we soldiered on with fans, ice buckets and spritzer bottles galore along with the endless supply of ice cold Cafe Gelado’s from Vida downstairs.

    Then came the news… we’d found an investor and we were E X P A N D I N G. Exciting and scary all at the same time it was clear that we needed to make this move as we’d outgrown our space and demand was growing by the day. We then went about scouting for a new home and found the ideal spot, same building, just one floor down – twice the size with windows and views. What more could we want. The rest of the story moved pretty fast with the appointment of LEVR creations as our design team, the work began.

    Work took about 3 months from start to finish, which is pretty good considering most of the hard stuff  had to happen after hours due to the noise restriction in the building. It’s one of those things you don’t realise when  you’re not in the “trade” I guess, but a pretty big consideration no less. The LEVR team were impeccable in their management of the project and the delivery and I couldn’t be happier in the space we’re in today.

    On swealtering days, 29C + we’re cool as cucumbers inside because of their very clever design. I’ve waxed lyrical about their work in previous blogs so won’t go on too much here. Check out the pics here –> http://www.capetownoffice.com/gallery/

    September we had 16 people working from Cape Town Office and I’m proud as punch to say that we’ve more than doubled that already. There are of course still a handful of places left from January, but it’s filling up…fast!

    Looking at 2015

    #CTO3: Very exciting year ahead for CTO with the development of our 3rd space underway already that will have bigger workstations and optional private offices for 2-4 people. We can’t wait to get cracking on this when the builders return from their holidays. For now everyone has downed tools and gone on holiday, a well deserved holiday to say the least.

    #CoWorkingAfrica:  I’ve spent the past few months colluding with Global Enterprise, organizers of the annual CoWorking Europe conference. 2014 saw the 5th successful European #coworking conference take place in Lisbon attended by 320 delegates from 40 different countries. The growth and continued interest in the phenomenon we call #coworking has, as we all know, spilled over into Africa. We felt that the time had come for Africa to celebrate the community of #coworking spaces and what better African city to host this event than Cape Town?!!

    After many skype calls to Belgium we finally arrived at the date of July 23-24 2015 and proud to say that the conference will be held right here in our building at East City Studios. The website for the conference is still under construction, so I will keep you updated via Twitter @capetownoffice on that and other goings on.

    I’m looking forward to the next six months and hope to see you all sooner rather than later!

    Happy Holidays - CTO

    December 19, 2014
    APP development Business Business Plan Cape Town co-working Content Creator Digital Entrepreneur Entrepreneur Network Internet Shared Office SME Social media Start-up Uncategorized

    So who CoWorks in a space like CTO?

    DSC_0467 (2)

    I often get asked “what other businesses are in the space”, so thought it was time for an update. What’s lovely is the variety of “trades” we have here at Cape Town Office which really creates opportunity for everyone to naturally network. Also, some of you might be interested to learn that not all our members are Entrepreneurs either. We have three companies that use CTO as a base for their employees, two in the UK and one in the USA. We also had our very first UNISA undergraduate join the CTO this month as he simply needed a quiet, focused space to do his studying from away from home.

    Sometimes its not about anything more than breaking the dreaded isolation curse that so many people face when working from home. Socially a space like this can be very uplifting and naturally help someone who might be stuck in a rut change tact in their business to gain better results. Sometimes its just a bit of human interaction that’s required to lift the spirits after a tough day in the office and comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone. Many other Entrepreneurs have been in your position and there is a way out!

    We have Graphic designers, Content creators, Financial analyst, Aluminum Composite Panels suppliers, Architects, Software developers specializing in interactive digital display installations, Knitwear, Not for profit, Videographer and even Tour operators and more…

    Here’s a quick list…

    Shane / Ridhu / Richard, Digital genii of RenderHeads

    Ronelle, Founder of TREK outdoor survival gear  and Graphic Designer, GraficTrafic

    Rethabile, Founder of  Thope Foundation

    Michael, Website guru of Solutions Web

    David, Entrepreneur and Founder of NitroCreamy & Missing Piece Films 

    Thorsten, Social Media Consultations and Website Design / www.thorsteneggert.com

    Julian, Chief of Head Stream Water Solutions

    Naomi, Operations behind Khuluma Education

    Anthony, Sales engine of DrinC

    Pete, Illustrator and Founder of LightSpeedDesign

    Annie, Inbound Product and Operations Manager for Jacada Travel

    Tobias & Ann-Marie, Founders and Creative monkeys behind LEVR Creations. (Architects / Interior Design / Furniture)

    Kevin, Sales & Marketing engine of Chocolate & Love

    Amy, Designer for Top Left Design UK

    Dylan & Meagan, Support operators for Order Talk US

    Andrew, Freelance online marketing  & content creator for www.capetownbig6.co.za www.capepoint.co.za www.civair.co.za

    Roberto, Energy Trading Analyst for Trailstone

    Sean, Sales Genius for Alcobond 

    Lizelle (that’s me), Founder of LVR – Business to Business lead generation / marketing

    John & Sonja of Big Blue Sky Tours – Independent Tour Operators

    Brigitta, who with her mom run a small family business supplying quality Knitwear to South African high street retailers

    Denise, in the throws of writing a book & doing her Post PHD

    Guiseppe, doing his Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing via Unisa

    Roelf, Founder of Extra Mile Cabs (Pty) Ltd

    Johann, our resident IT guru – MyIT FIX (website coming soon)

    So, that’s the current list of CTO members and more joining us every week now which is just brilliant. Keep in touch via Twitter @capetownoffice or Facebook /capetownoffice for all the goings on at CTO. If this sounds like it could be a solution for you, don’t wait – pop in & see what you’re missing out on!

    #cowork #network #collaborate

    Best,

    Lizelle

     

    October 17, 2014
    APP development Business Business Plan Cape Town co-working Digital Entrepreneur Entrepreneur Network Hot Desk Infographic Internet Investment Pitch Shared Office SME Social media Start-up Uncategorized

    Seeking investment? The Supper Club Angels’ Tips to a Winning Pitch

    The Supper Club is the UK’s leading membership club exclusively for fast growth entrepreneurs of mid-sized businesses, encouraging business leaders to inspire, support and challenge each other in the pursuit of business growth. http://www.thesupperclub.com/

    By The Supper Club (UK) 

    Are you seeking investment?

    Raising money for SMEs and start-ups is not an easy job and one of the many challenges that entrepreneurs face. Angel investors can be a valuable option and source of funding, support and expertise.

    Our Investment Club runs twice a year, offering you the opportunity to raise investment via our panel of vetted and experienced entrepreneurs. With a combined turnover of around £150M our Supper Club Angels can offer expertise in a variety of sectors such as; technology, gaming, property, logistics and business services.

    In such a competitive environment, having the right information is your best tool. Here are our Supper Club Angels’ top tips on working up a winning pitch:

    Investors often look to invest in the people ahead of the business. Be confident, speak in plain English and ensure you come across as polished. Make sure you explain who your team is and why they are the right people to drive success.

    The scalability of your venture is what will appeal to investors so aim for an exciting but realistic outlook. Emphasise existing revenues and customers if you have them as these will give investors a lot of confidence. Be clear on the risks and how you will address them.

    State what your own personal investment in the venture has been or will be. Investors will not put money in if you haven’t put in some of your own cash and time. Investors will place a premium on you if you work in your venture full-time as this demonstrates your commitment.

    Keep your business plan short, around 2-3 pages, be concise, focus on what the reader needs to know and remove any fluff. The plan should explain clearly how you deliver value to your customers and extract value from them along with a realistic financial projection.

    Get to grips with the finances! Whoever you are pitching to will want to see that you have a very tight plan, know every future figure and know when you’ll see return etc. Avoid a hockey stick plan that relies on sudden massive growth – it won’t be believable.

    Investing in a business is never going to be something an Angel takes on lightly. Of course your pitch needs to reflect you and your business, but the recipe to success is based on your power to inspire confidence, reliability, passion, ability and integrity.

    Follow The Supper Club on Twitter for more great tips on growing your business @TheSupperClubUK

    October 06, 2014
    APP development Business Cape Town co-working Digital Entrepreneur Network Hot Desk Internet Shared Office Social media Start-up

    THE FUTURE OF COWORKING AND WHY IT WILL GIVE YOUR BUSINESS A HUGE EDGE

    deskmag-coworking-3342

    HERE ARE THE NUMBERS THAT SUPPORT THE CASE FOR COWORKING–AND WHY IT’S NOT JUST FOR STARTUPS OR FREELANCERS ANYMORE.

    Fun. Friendly. Inspiring. Collaborative. Productive. If you wouldn’t define your workplace with any or all of those terms, you may have to ditch your own desk and take a seat at a coworking space near you. Even if you aren’t an entrepreneur or freelancer, the benefits of coworking, according to Deskmag’s annual Global Coworking Survey, are pretty hard to ignore: 71 percent of participants reported a boost in creativity since joining a coworking space, while 62 percent said their standard of work had improved.

    The study also found that half of all coworkers access their work space around the clock–with only 30 percent preferring to work during normal business hours. “The future of work should not be dictated by space or place, but by the individual and the tasks that he or she has to deliver,” Regus CEO Mark Dixon tells Fast Company. “Many employees are now measured by output and productivity, and not just 40 hours spent sitting at a desk. Workers and the companies for which they work are increasingly realizing that they need to provide and utilize a wide range of workplaces to accommodate an increasingly diverse workforce with very different expectations of what work is, and where and when it should happen,” he explains.

    That’s why Dixon says, companies such as Google, Amazon, Twitter, and half of the Fortune 500 offer their staff temporary spaces at Regus to hold meetings or to get work done on the road. Regus offers flex space to more than a million people a day worldwide.

    Dixon notes that coworking allows for businesses to test new markets relatively risk-free. “Our research tells us that today anywhere between a third and half of all workers are flexible and mobile. Four years ago flexible working was the reserve of quirky marketing agencies and IT shops. Today, it’s a way of life influenced by the growth of the freelance economy and the need to expand the top-line by market expansion,” Dixon explains. For example, Regus plays host to real estate agencies that ironically don’t have their own real estate. Instead, they give all the agents cards to check into a nearby coworking center when they need to print materials or get paperwork done.

    Compared to a traditional office, Deskmag found that an overwhelming majority (90 percent) of coworkers said they got a self-confidence boost, likely due to the fact that many spaces are filled with supportive communities that enable creative collaboration.

    Dodd Caldwell, founder of Loft Resumes and MoonClerk, has been coworking for two and a half years in Greenville, S.C. Most recently, he’s sharing space with otherstartups at Iron Yard. “We’re a pretty curated coworking space, so even though we’re made up of different companies, we’re all fairly kindred spirits,” Caldwell asserts. By running his small businesses in a curated coworking space, he says, “I get the advantages of the culture of a medium-size business without having to deal with most of the downsides that come with it, like bureaucracy.”

    I GET THE ADVANTAGES OF THE CULTURE OF A MEDIUM-SIZE BUSINESS WITHOUT HAVING TO DEAL WITH MOST OF THE DOWNSIDES THAT COME WITH IT.

    One of the main advantages to coworking, Caldwell says, is the ease of collaborating with other companies sharing the space, many of which don’t have more than three people. “Sometimes that’s just tapping someone outside of your team on the shoulder and asking their opinion. Other times, it may be a 15-minute whiteboarding session with a developer on another startup.”

    The ability to approach problems from a variety of angles is the undercurrent running through coworking spaces like Secret Clubhouse. Originally established by Rick Webb (cofounder of The Barbarian Group) in September, the Secret Clubhouse addresses a simple, but critical, need for entrepreneurs in the already crowded coworking scene in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn: it gives them a place to sit every day and take advantage of being elbow-to-elbow with other startup impresarios.

    In the disastrous aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, those seats were filled with staff from Gawker, Foursquare, Tumblr, and Vimeo, whose offices didn’t have power. Now that things have settled down, manager Alison Vingiano says Secret Clubhouse isn’t quite filled to capacity of 35 desks, but those who are working from there can work alone or plug into the local tech community through hosted events or just from hanging out in the basement lounge, which is appointed with a pool table, musical instruments for impromptu jam sessions, as well as food, drinks, and cushy seating.

    Vingiano says that while collaboration is now a main focus of Secret Clubhouse, “a lot of it happens naturally.” Between hosted meetups and skill-sharing events, Vingiano says Secret Clubhouse members are encouraged to announce positions for hire or talk about what they are working on.

    Contrary to popular opinion that an open environment like the Secret Clubhouse is just as distracting as a coffee shop, 68 percent of those polled by Deskmag said they were able to focus better, and almost as many (64 percent) reported they were better able to complete tasks on time.

    Scott Hinson, lab director at Pecan Street Inc.’s new Pike Powers Commercialization Lab, is going to be in the unique position of fostering collaboration in the space, while also helping the companies working there to stay focused and retain privacy.

    The $1.5 million lab, located in northeast Austin, will be officially opening in May to promote research, commercialization, and education tied to smart energy grids, advanced information technology, clean energy, and health care applications. As the nation’s first nonprofit smart-grid research lab, it’s going to give smaller businesses the ability to use equipment like a spectrum analyzer that would cost roughly an engineer’s annual salary, without the huge investment.

    The challenge, according to Hinson, will be to keep proprietary projects a secret. But he’s not overly concerned. “We just have to be conscious of who can’t be around whom [when scheduling work],” he says. In addition, the facility has security controls such as thumbprint readers and secure Internet access. If need be, says Hinson, they can wipe all data from computer terminals every time someone new sits down to use it.“As long as we set the right expectation we can minimize challenges,” Hinson says. “If you set the expectation you get a place to do really cool stuff and there might be some other folks that are doing that too, so we can avoid it from the get-go.”

    Dixon believes that the flexibility to “work your way” is leading to greater productivity and job satisfaction. He points out a recent survey conducted by MindMetre in which 64 percent of U.S. employees are happier with their jobs today than they were two years ago because of the increased flexibility and shift towards a clearer work/life balance. “In addition, there is a plethora of research that shows flexible workers experience lower levels of work-related stress and higher levels of work satisfaction,” Dixon adds. “The healthiest option for employers and employees is to continue to work together to redefine the parameters of work, and how it is conducted and rewarded.”

    –Do you cowork, and how has it changed your career? Leave your tips in the comments below.

    September 22, 2014
    APP development Business Cape Town co-working Digital Entrepreneur Network Hot Desk Infographic Internet Shared Office Social media Start-up Uncategorized

    Settled in our new home!

    Happy Spring from our new home here at CTO. The move was quite painless and the reward simply awesome. What a space LEVR creations have given us. Light, airy and spacious with a beautiful shared kitchen that’s definitely big enough to swing more than a cat in, light and airy bathrooms and a meeting room big enough for 6 people comfortably.

    I’ll not bore you with too much text, let me rather show you!

    We have spaces open, so give me a shout & spread the word. R1,500 a month and that includes internet & meeting room.

    Have a great month folks.

    Lizelle

    3 Man Pod

    Renderheads Pod

    Looking to the entrance

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    Great size desk with option for a shelving unit to right

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    Desk with a view? Sunrise…

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    Middle 4 Man pod

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    Lunch/Coffee bar counter area

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    Reception

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    Spacious communal kitchen

     

    Our entrance

    Our entrance

    Early morning light.

    Early morning light.

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    The Dudes

     

    September 01, 2014