Yesterday, two of my coworkers and I worked at the Hudson Business Lounge, a collaborative working space, the whole day. We talked loudly, as you do when you work collaboratively, and we were treated well by the barista and the person at the front desk. We weren’t asked to pay a day pass (one of my coworkers is a member there), but we would have gladly done so.

Today was different. When we walked in, they gave us the option of paying for a day pass or working in a common space around an eight-seat table. We took the latter option, and joined a man who was working on his laptop with books spread and headphones plugged in. As we worked, speaking at a normal indoor volume, the man gave us dirty looks. Eventually, he took out his headphones and told us that we should leave if we were going to talk in the facility’s public space.

Understandably flabbergasted that a patron might find talking unacceptable in a collaborative working space, my coworker (the one who has a membership) went to talk to a manager. The manager, without asking for details, declared that “perhaps [we] were looking for something a little more bohemian” and that “[their] space is not for people like [us]”.

For those who don’t know, in Real Life, I’m a JavaScript consultant, currently working for an extremely high-profile client. I tend to dress casually - today I’m wearing a short-sleeved button down shirt and khakis - and I’m always polite to people I talk with. I could pull out all kinds of other stuff about how the assumptions that this manager made about us were wrong, but that’s playing their game.

It seems to me that, if this space is trying to attract people who need independent workspaces, one of their main demographics would be young people in the tech industry. Their space is well-organized, with outlets and ethernet jacks at every seat, and a coffee bar that turns into an alcoholic bar at night. They are in a city that’s starting to experience a revitalization and a a neighborhood with good places to run to lunch for. It’s exactly the kind of place I’d like to spend 8 hours a day in, if not for the staff.

Instead, I sit at a coffeeshop a couple of blocks away, whose employees were totally cool with us bringing in our own food (we bought some stuff anyway, because we’re not jerks) and splaying out across a couple tables (if it crowds up, we’ll condense). The music is better, the people are friendlier, and I’m more productive. I guess we really did need something more bohemian.


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