That’s how long it has been since I have had a file cabinet or a computer monitor or a room of one’s own, uh…a “dedicated desk.” Like millions, when The Great Pause hit, I moved from my WeWork office to my dining room table. After 20 years of freelancing, I didn’t share the same glee that most did for working from home. I had done it in the earliest years of my career, and I always found that the charm wears off quickly. What at first seems like boundless freedom to be boss-less and pants-less quickly turns into clacking your keys in your boxer shorts at 11:45am, un-showered and with no plan to see another human in the flesh.
But times, they were “unprecedented,” (may we never use that word again), so I did it, spending 2020 at home, on my laptop, my office files shoved into a box in the closet, my printer squeezed onto a bookshelf, and my monitor retired in storage. I called it MeWork or WeeWork. It’s New York. Apartments are small. It was either a table to work at or a table to eat at. When the vaccine came, I took cautious steps to open back up and venture out. That was also when the scathing WeWork documentary came out on Hulu. I wrote here on Medium in WeWork’s defense, feeling that most of us renters never paid any attention to the guru leading the venture. We were just here for the lime seltzer. If anything, knowing the full story behind the co-working giant made me equally annoyed with the 20-somethings who somehow thought they’d all get rich hitting the slot machine we call capitalism.
Still something didn’t sit right. I had mixed feelings about returning to WeWork. I got their universal access membership, and for 2021, I brought my laptop in-and-out, keeping it temporary, all the while researching their competitors: Spaces, Industrious, even NeueHouse. Spaces was cheaper but gives you nothing. Printing is an add-on. Coffee is an odd-on. Apparently people are also an add-on. I visited three Spaces, and they were emptier than the Time Square subway station in April 2020. Tumbleweeds. And conference rooms are really, really expensive. In the end, they’re owned by Regus, a New York real estate giant, who is owned by a faceless UK company, so was I really taking much of a stand moving my monthly money from WeWork to Regus? No.