DC Coworking Spaces: Why I’m Glad I Jumped On The Entrepenurial Bandwagon

When I began District Maven in 2009, telecommuting jobs weren’t exactly common. Even today, most people tell me that their productivity level would be at an all-time low if they worked remotely. Perhaps it’s conditioning, but for the most part I’ve enjoyed great comfort and flexibility over the years in maintaining a home office. Getting out of your pajamas is optional and there are prime opportunities to do your laundry or run to the gym throughout the day. (And considering you can write off a portion of your rent as a business expense come tax time, it’s hard to beat the price either.) Yet I’ve also found constantly working from home to be a challenge. The lines between “personal” and “professional” are always blurred, making it difficult to find a definitive stopping point for the day. It also results in being a bit of a hermit, often opting for the solitude of the home workspace over crowded coffee shops with weak Internet connections.

As my business has grown, the difficulties of an apartment-based headquarters have become greater in number. My growing disdain for my work environment prompted my initial interest in the many coworking spaces around Washington DC. It is no secret that creative communities like MakeOffices, WeWork, 1776 and Cove are hotbeds of entrepreneurial activity that provided dedicated room to work in a collaborative environment. (Plus, most if not all are equipped with free beer and wine.) In spite of their many attractive qualities, I hesitated for months to signup — either the space wasn’t right, the location not convenient and usually the price was too high.

Feeling trapped by the home office eventually become too much — it was clear that District Maven needed an legitimate headquarters to call its own. After touring the many coworking spaces around town, I chose the MakeOffices in Clarendon which is conveniently located, beautifully designed and cost effective. Plus with a month-to-month contract, making the leap became an even more attractive choice with decreased risk.

One month after moving in I can now firmly attest: jumping on the coworking bandwagon was a smart and motivating business move — one that I should have taken advantage of far sooner. For small business owners on the fence about kissing the home office goodbye, here is why making the jump to one of the District’s creative communities can make all the difference in growing your company.

Thursday office views @districtmaven 💻👆🏻| 📸 by @houseofbatac

A post shared by District Maven 〽 (@districtmaven) on

With a home office, the line between your job and your personal life is really thin. As someone who regularly works long hours, I almost resented being at home constantly — it symbolically became my place of extreme focus, not relaxation.

Conversely, with a shared desk or dedicated office in a coworking space, the separating line is substantially more clear. At the end of the day, I lock my door and leave my computer behind — work with it. By defining a time in which to finish work for the day, my focus and work flow are at an all time high while in the office. It also allows me to focus my off-duty energies in more positive ways, with charity work, time with friends or visiting family (without being glued to my laptop).

Before moving into my office, I knew that coworking spaces were fully equipped with really cool features. (Free beer and wine is always an attractive quality for budget-conscious entrepreneurs, after all.)

I quickly discovered that the amenities were far more awesome than I originally anticipated. The free booze is sweet, but never underestimate the mental health benefits treadmill desks and high-tech massage chairs provide to overworked entrepreneurs.

Housing several businesses under one roof is not only cost effective, it creates a comfortable atmosphere from which separate business can grow and benefit from one another. The open environment makes coworking spaces ideal for organic networking and collaboration. Meeting people is easy, even for the biggest introverts. It seems as if every time I step outside the District Maven office that I meet someone new, who’s professional journey is interesting (if not inspiring).

More often than not, I’ve found the fellow businesses in my building to be a constant source of motivation. Being surrounded by several entrepreneurial minds has helped me think outside the box, push boundaries and implement new solutions. In these people I’ve also found potential partners, friendly faces and a support system that truly just gets it. 

Prior to move in, I always thought that there had to be a specific type of business who used coworking spaces. A month in, it is clear that these creative communities cater to nearly any type of business imaginable. In my building alone, one can find social media analysts, firearms instructors, healthcare startups and even a delivery service for chef-made meals.

For service-based businesses like District Maven, the constant influx of new companies fosters a wealth of viable lead generation opportunities. For those who actively try, it isn’t difficult to keep the sales funnel full when you call a coworking space home.

The organizations in similar industries have also been superbly beneficial names to add to the Rolodex. There is always value in knowing other entrepreneurs within the local area — if not immediately (or ever) as a client, then definitely as a resource and sounding board.