I’m writing this from a hot desk at a coworking space in Sheung Wan. Up until a few months ago, coworking spaces were uncharted territory to me (and probably to many other people too). I’ve always worked from home and thought “Why would I pay to work at a shared office with random people?”
But let’s dial it back a little! I’m a graphic designer who’s done the remote work thing since 2017. Before Covid-19, I mostly worked from home. Occasionally I’d pop by a client’s office for meetings a few times a month.
It worked well – my husband would head to the office in the morning so I’d always have the apartment to myself for the day. I had my own bubble where inspiration for creative work came easily. I’d spend the day in sweatpants, hair in a bun, snacking my way through a big bag of trail mix. I had sole access to the coffee machine and the microwave too! I didn’t think I’d ever want it any other way. In some ways, it really made me feel like my own boss.
Since the global pandemic came about earlier this year, my husband has had to work from home. While it was nice to spend more time with him initially, being stuck with each other in a tiny apartment 24/7 gave us both cabin fever (no, it’s not as exciting as having disco fever). He used to be fairly active so being stuck at home made him increasingly restless and irritable. The longer it went on, I found it harder to stay patient with him and we started to fight over the smallest, pettiest issues! How does the best husband ever become such a nightmare?!
It came to a point where I just couldn’t work at home anymore. It’s been hours (or was it days) since I interacted face-to-face with a human who wasn’t married or related to me. The last straw came when we both had a bad night’s sleep and ended up arguing for TWO HOURS about whether it was necessary to mop the floor for the third time that week which evolved into an argument about how annoying my work music is when he’s on a call.
My husband and I know we still have a strong relationship, unlike the numerous couples in China (and probably all over the world) who applied for a divorce straight out of home quarantine. But for now, I needed to find somewhere else to work.
I gave up on working at cafés a while back. Trying to find a seat in a crowded coffee shop drove me crazy, let alone the constant chattering and shoddy Wi-Fi connection. Great internet, the option for complete privacy, and having a few location options around the city are my absolute minimum for a workspace. I prefer not be limited to a single location in case I have meetings on the day. I can’t afford anything that will break the bank, but it would be nice to have a workspace that is open 24/7 so I have the option of working late or coming in on the weekends. A comfy chair and an inhouse bar wouldn’t be amiss either! I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to find such a place.
So one day, when a friend told me about an app that allows people to book a desk by the day at coworking spaces in Hong Kong and Singapore, I was intrigued.
“Have you heard about BOOQED? I used it ALL THE TIME when I travelled to Singapore last year for that marketing conference and I had to catch up on work and schedule impromptu meetings. It’s way better than messing with Google Maps and phone numbers trying to find a place, and way better than going to that big coffee shop chain with the overpriced coffee, bad wifi and noisy kids.”
I knew I didn’t have a big budget to spare on monthly rent for an office space, but the option of having an affordable alternative to working from home a few days a week was enticing. I convinced myself that it was worth it for the sake of everyone's sanity.
That was the day I downloaded BOOQED.
I won’t bore you with the details but long story short, I jumped on the (part-time) coworking bandwagon and haven’t looked back since.
In the following weeks, a number of friends have confided that they too, have thought about joining a coworking space but (surprise, surprise) didn’t want to fork out the monthly bill. I guess it’s true what they say, everyone’s a commitment-phobe these days. As we like to tell our friends - just take it one day at a time.
So, I did a little matchmaking and told them about this app where you could book a desk for the day – 10 points to Gryffindor if you can guess what the app is.
It's now been six months since I started working at my little office-away-from-home a few days a week. It turns out I quite enjoy the option of changing up my daily work-from-home routine for an office routine. Instead of commuting from the sofa to the fridge, I’d make the short commute to the nearby coworking space and settle in at my desk with a cup of coffee. And if I’m being completely honest, being in a coworking space feels a bit like being in an exclusive club, and I like it.
I originally thought I’d jump straight back into working from home full-time once my husband goes back to working at the office, but he’s been back to work for over a month now and I’m still not in any rush to give up the shared office. It’s okay, he hasn’t seen the credit card bills yet.
I just hope I’m not too loud when I’m crunching my way through that bag of trail mix..
Need a break from your home office? Try BOOQED
Not to toot our own horn, but BOOQED offers the flexible coworking spaces home workers didn’t even know they need. There’s no long-term commitment, you can book hot desks, meeting rooms or café tables by the hour or day. Download our app to get started – available in Android and iOS.
*Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.