woman writing alone

I recently joined the members co-working studio, Nottingham Hackspace but I didn’t join to make car parts, electronic knitwear or 3d robots.

As a lapsed art student, I still draw, cut paper, make jewellery and the occasional clay model in my spare time. And I love that, if I wanted, I could use the space for any of these things, plus learn how to use a laser cutter, or make a 3d printed object just for the hell of it.

But really, I joined the Hackspace just to have somewhere to work

'lounge' room at the Hackspace

Headspace versus Hackspace

In the immortal words of writer/film-maker Khyan Mansley (see video below): “I spend lots of time on my own….BY CHOICE!”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that I can make a living spending all day writing about 15 great picnic spots around the world or crafting a 1000-word essay on water butt taps (this actually happened).

But this means a lot of time spent in my own headspace. This equals a lot of thinking, and a lot of time to discover my brain’s not always the most fun work buddy. In fact, it’s more like that person on your team who pushes chocolate on you every breaktime with a forcible smile, whilst secretly thinking ‘greedy bastard’ to themselves.

Working from home

I work from home sometimes, which I’ll admit is a nice option that not everyone is lucky enough to have. Until of course, they realise this means foraging in the cupboard for Hobnobs instead of working, putting loads of washing on instead of working, or staring down the magpies outside the window, instead of working. Admittedly, this is not dissimilar to what I used to do in the office, bar the laundry, but sitting down to your dining room table in your dressing gown is not necessarily the motivational scenario you might hope.

Then there’s the library. I love libraries; my mum used to work in one, so I spent a lot of time in them as a child (BY CHOICE). But roaming the aisles for the perfect seat – that is, one with a plug socket, a bit of peace and quiet and no one gently snoring behind you, is actually a bit of a mission. And they do frown upon you having your pitta breads in the middle of the gardening section. (Nottingham Central Library unfortunately did not make the list of the world’s top picnic spots).

Ghostbusters library ghost scene

Be careful what you find in ‘quiet’ corners of the library.

Courtesy of www.dearcastandcrew.com.

The joys of hotdesking

Then there’s the oh-so-twenty-first-century option of the shared office or hotdesking concept. The very the expression ‘hot-desking’ reminds me of soul-destroying temp jobs where you have no real workspace and get shunted around every morning feeling very unloved.

At shared offices, you pay upwards of £40 a month for a room with plenty of tables and sockets and often a kettle (your pitta breads are usually fine here, too).

But there’s not much interaction. Not much of anything at all. I once joined one in Edinburgh because I missed working with other people, but quickly found out that although there were lots of people in the room, frantically typing away, none of them really wanted to speak to each other. The only attempt at socialising I witnessed was someone starting up an online chat thread, but insisting it should be spread by word of mouth, and looking horrified when I suggested writing the details on the whiteboard. Ergh.

people working on their laptops

Image by marissa anderson, used under Creative Comms licence.

Communal space

The Hackspace is a little different. It’s co-operatively run and paid into by its members, which means that communal element is always there, whether it’s clubs, workshops, tidy-up nights, or just having a chat in the kitchen.

The creative potential of the space is vast. There’s always something to pique my curiosity, always someone to expound on a project or a dream of future creations, with a glint in the eye. It’s a place where ideas can multiply in every direction, where you could easily go in with just a laptop and come out eight hours later with a necklace made of recycled electronic parts and a small Perspex rabbit. And the laser cutter is called Lasery Mc Laserface.

At the end of the day, all I wanted was somewhere warm and friendly, with charging points and kitchen facilities. You’ve got a home, haven’t you? you might well ask. But I don’t want my home to be work, and vice versa. I want a workplace that’s elsewhere, filled with…well, people who aren’t me. And if that workplace comes with a giant milling machine and the reassuring smell of my old college art studios, so much the better.

Hackspace workshop