Usually, I find press coverage of coworking to be rather facile. Think of this Boston Globe article, which referred to coworking members as "Millennials in hoodies." That's hardly the case in most coworking offices I visit. Most of the time, the press doesn't really get to the heart of what coworking is actually like.
One exception might be this CNBC explainer video, which is a reasonably good primer and also notes the different ways that large corporations are delving into coworking. Check it out.
If you cowork regularly, particularly if you hotdesk, you’re probably using a laptop for portability. Unfortunately, laptops are notoriously bad for your posture, forcing you to hunch over, and leading to neck and back problems, which some have dubbed “text neck.” I don’t think that name will catch on, but I can tell you from experience that neither text neck nor other problems like shoulder impingements are any fun.
Enterprising folks have developed laptop risers or stands – and made them portable for commuters. When used with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, a laptop riser will raise your laptop’s screen to eye level, improving your posture. Commuting with one means more to carry around, which ironically can also hurt your back. But if they’re ultra-portable, they should pay off. So which one fits the bill?
Here I review three different options. Note that this is a real-world review; I’ve used each for at least a few weeks, if not much longer, commuting from home to coworking office, and in some cases including international travel. (I review products based on actual use, not on gadgetry or feature lists.) In this case, what I really cared the most about was functionality as a laptop stand, and portability for commuting every day.
The Matias iFold is the oldest of the three options. The Sano Apex and the Roost 2 are more recent entries, both emerging from Kickstarter campaigns. I paid for all three. Check out the video for details.
The winner: unequivocally, the Roost 2. When I originally saw the Roost on Kickstarter, it looked very cool. But it had so many moving parts that I thought build quality would be an issue. I can happily say that it’s not a problem at all. It’s a glass-fiber reinforced nylon with a really solid feel and tight tolerances. No problems or warning signs from any of the joints or moving parts. I’ve been using it for a year without any problems.
In fact, there really weren’t any trade-offs in my analysis. They were all perfectly functional. But the Roost 2 is easier to setup, sturdier in use, and more portability. To be fair, I leave the iFold on my desk in my home office, so I do use that as well. But the Roost 2 is the clear winner and it’s what I use every day.
If you're interested, pick one up here:
You'll love it from the moment you first pull it open.
What's it like to work in a coworking office? Don't ask the Boston Globe, because apparently not all of their writers have ever visited one. Here, the Globe’s Janelle Nanos worries about a potential coworking culture clash with “millennials in hoodies.” I get it; it’s a funny line. But the reality is that the coworking demographic is so much broader than Gen Y Zuckerberg wannabes.
On the other hand, there are some people taking the time to parse what is behind the coworking boom. I was at the beach this weekend and read my copy of the Solo City Report, a joint research project from the Knight Foundation and the Solo Project. Yes, that’s the kind of thing I read on the beach; when I finished it, I read the latest issue of Foreign Policy.
I digress. “In 2007, there were 75 coworking spaces worldwide,” the Solo City Report tells us. “In 2015, there were 7,800.” They go on to describe the trends in the economy and the labor force that are driving the coworking boom. Hint: it’s not a generational thing.
Best of all, they give a lot of advice to cities on how they can better support “soloists” – the freelancers and nano-businesses that are becoming more of a factor, or a more visible factor, in our urban, regional and national economies. It’s worth a read.
I've been coworking since 2010. which has taught me a few things about making it work. I have a lot left to learn.