Chemistry. A positive vibe. Personality fit.
Call it what you will. But like any work place, what’s key to your long-term happiness at a coworking spot is the intangible but critical element of cultural fit. When the basic “hygiene” factors of price, amenities, and convenience of location are more or less equal, culture is what differentiates one coworking space from another.
It comes from the look, energy and feel of the actual space, the neighborhood, the host, and the people already there. It’s what makes you excited about going in to work. It’s the feeling of home-coming and safe haven when you walk in those doors. It’s a sense of belonging, a badge of honor, that sense of pride that makes you want to invite clients and partners over.
Here’s the shortlist of SF coworking spaces I toured before signing up at the Hatchery. They’re all cool unique places that meet my basic requirements (convenient location, my desired amenities, within my budget). What drove my final choice is feeling like it’s a good cultural fit.
Vibe: Garage-like cocoon environment with a super-communal and egalitarian vibe
Personality match: No-frills hacktivists and anti-establishment iconoclasts
Not for: pampered designer types who need their creature comforts and a place they can show off to clients
Neighborhood: surprisingly, it’s in a part of Soma that’s quite commercial and mainstream—so lots of food and commute choices.
Vibe: Clean, neat and shiny like a designer library where everything runs smooth as clockwork
Personality match: Buttoned-down, hunker-down FiDi professionals who focus on work like a laser beam
Not for: loud-mouthed chatty types who need the freedom of a creative playground
Neighborhood: heart of the financial district—high on commute & food options, low on character and personality
Vibe: A 24/7 start-up hub—a garage-y communal hall downstairs, or go upstairs for fancier reserved desks by exposed brick walls and bright windows
Personality match: Hob-nobbing tech entrepreneurs and serial networkers
Not for: anyone not steeped in tech
Neighborhood: kind of a no-man’s land where it’s not hip enough but not commercial enough either. However, Parisoma more than makes up for it by hosting a wide variety of great networking events.
And the match for me…
Vibe: A cross between a modern speakeasy and a creative agency—vibrant, lots of personality, but still classy and stylish. The kind of place that’s grown-up enough to invite clients and partners over, yet fun enough for them to have a good time.
Personality match: Creative types who want personality and playfulness in a grown-up, professional manner
Not for: quiet types who prefer a library-like atmosphere
Neighborhood: right by South Park—perfect blend of artsy-alternative and industrial-professional. Home to amazing eateries like the Little Skillet and American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. The #10 is about as civilized as Muni gets. Laura Moir is a perfect host—getting the job done and in her own style.
And when I saw the bar—a real bar, beautifully designed, where Bourbon and Branch occasionally comes to host happy hour—I knew I had come home.
OTHER LUST-WORTHY COWORKING SPACES
Hungry for more coworking inspiration? Here’s a Pinterest board of cool coworking spaces from around the country and the globe.
MORE ON COWORKING
Read a previous post on coworking to find out how coworking will change your life and boost your work. Next week, I’ll wrap up my obsession on coworking with a post on how coworking isn’t just for freelancers, and how businesses big and small are sprinkling coworking magic into their work culture.