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It can be a challenge to stay connected and productive while you’re on the road. Sure, it’s easier than ever to work remotely thanks to laptops, smartphones and reliable Wi-Fi, but if you actually want to be productive, you still need to find somewhere you can actually work — preferably someplace with the right resources and an environment.
Hotel business centers are still an option, but they tend not the most comfortable spaces — if your hotel has one at all. Just holing up in a hotel room is an option, too, although some hotels have done away with the big in-room desk. You can always try to find a good coffee shop, too, but it can be hard to find a free table, and any time you get up to use the bathroom or refill your cup, you risk losing your seat (or your laptop).
Fortunately, there’s another option: co-working spaces. Exploding in prominence over the past decade or so, co-working spaces are essentially shared office spaces for road warriors, freelancers, digital nomads and startups. More secure than coffee shops and equipped with everything you need to get your work done, co-working spaces are the latest and greatest way to manage when you’re away from your regular desk.
Meanwhile, there’s a wide range of co-working spaces. From affordable local haunts to beautiful luxury spaces at the top of the city, there’s a space for any budget and need. Here are some of our favorites in New York City, perfect for a free day before heading home, or for hunkering down between meetings.
Each space has different access rules, membership, day-pass options and prices. If you’re only in town for a little while or only need a space for a couple hours between meetings, you might just be looking for the closest and most convenient space. In that case, the best way to find and gain access to a co-working space is through Croissant, an app that connects users to nearby co-working seats in 10 cities.
Croissant offers monthly plans that include a certain number of hours at participating spaces, but also includes the option to pay hourly. You can open the app and search by location and amenities, then browse the available spaces. You can even reserve a seat.
Blender Workspace, 135 Madison Avenue, Manhattan
Blender Workspace offices a perfect balance of comfort, style and functionality, presenting a deliberate and curated atmosphere plus services above and beyond just a seat and desk.
When you first walk into Blender’s space, you’ll notice the art on the walls, a sign that it considers its workspace more than just a place to work. Blender creates, in essence, a productive gallery space. An in-house art curator brings in new pieces every few months. A large cafe-style area offers members and visitors places to sit, work, eat or chat. Coffee, tea and water are complimentary, with other specials occasionally available.
Like most co-working spaces, Blender offers a mix of offices and open desks. Offices can accommodate up to six people, while dedicated desks offer a place to return to day after day and feature lockers. Day passes include access to the cafe space, where there’s ample seating, as well as use of Wi-Fi and printer services.
The cafe also doubles as an event space. Various events, generally held after regular business hours, are open to all members and previous day-pass visitors. Past events have included wellness-focused activities like yoga or meditation, presentations from executives at major companies like Deloitte or Google and even a performance by a 22-piece jazz orchestra.
Blender offers conference rooms to rent, a great option for a visitor to town looking for a place to host clients or candidates.
BrooklynWorks, 159 20th Street, Brooklyn
BrooklynWorks sits in the ambiguously shaped Greenwood Heights neighborhood, bordering areas that could be considered part of South Slope or Sunset Park. Regardless of what real-estate agents choose to call the neighborhood, two things are clear: The R train makes it easily accessible from Manhattan and elsewhere in Brooklyn, and there’s no shortage of things going on nearby. With all the cafes, bars and restaurants, there’s plenty of opportunities to enjoy the neighborhood — after you’re finished working, of course.
BrooklynWorks has three stories in an industrial building, with the first floor offering a large kitchen and break area, a co-working space with drop-in seats for members and day-pass users, dedicated desks and private offices, while the upper floors are mostly just private offices.
Something that stands out at BrooklynWorks is that, despite the fact that productivity is clearly key, there’s a laid-back and social vibe as well, with friendly events and professional networking mixers after hours and occasionally during the day — such as pancake Tuesdays or birthday parties for regulars and staff. Everyone in the space, including one-time-pass users, is welcome to these events, creating a great atmosphere that matches the converted warehouse feel.
Four phone booths offer quiet, private spaces to take calls, and BrooklynWorks plans to add a few more. Everyone from regular members to day-pass users has access to lounges and the kitchen, which feature complimentary snacks, coffee and water, as well as any events that day. Day passes are $15 per day, though you have the option of purchasing 10 visits at once for $100.
Like many other spaces, BrooklynWorks also offers conference rooms and event spaces to rent, regardless of whether or not you’re a member. If you’re looking for a place to hold meetings in this part of Brooklyn, this might be the perfect venue.
Servcorp, 1 World Trade Center, Manhattan
You may not be familiar with it, but Servcorp is one of the oldest co-working and shared office-service companies in the field. Founded in 1978, the firm started by offering “virtual office” services, then ventured into the co-working idea a few years later, according to COO Marcus Moufarrige. Since then, it’s expanded around the world, popping up in Chicago, Tokyo, Dubai and Sydney. For this article, I toured its New York flagship on the 85th floor of the Freedom Tower.
Striving to offer a polished top product, Servcorp is an unabashedly luxury brand. Even before you start working there, it shows. The World Trade Center location has, as you might expect, breathtaking views, and since Servcorp occupies its entire floor, those views are available in every direction. The floor is filled with art in various styles. When you walk in, you may notice turn-of-the-century paintings, on loan from a private collector. Other sections of the floor are lined with a curated selection of prints by photographer Michael Mundy.
Servcorp has something for everyone from hot-desk users to companies needing full office suites, and its co-working model is particularly ideal for those constantly on the road. With a monthly membership, you have equal access to each Servcorp location. Each desk at every Servcorp office makes it easy to instantly settle in: If you fire up the Servcorp app and tap your smartphone, you’ll be set up to use Wi-Fi and the landline phone at that desk.
Memberships start at $50 per month, which includes certain virtual office services and members-only day rates for co-working spaces, or $450 a month for a full, unlimited hot-desk membership. Servcorp is also working on a partnership with Ritz-Carlton hotels in New York to make day passes available to guests on request.
WeWork, 85 Broad Street, Manhattan
WeWork has exploded in recent years, with locations popping up all across major cities. Although I visited the company’s Financial District location for this article, there are plenty of other spots throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn that are worth considering.
The FiDi location occupies five floors of a 30-story office tower. Steps from Battery Park, it’s in a great spot right near Wall Street and within walking distance of just about every subway line that serves lower Manhattan, as well as the Staten Island Ferry.
A huge kitchen and lounge area offers the usual water, coffee, tea and even beer, and often features promos or freebies from other companies — during my tour, I saw a complimentary crepe station sponsored by a third party.
Private phone booths are available on each floor for anyone to book, and there are plenty of conference rooms that can be reserved via a smartphone app. Some of the conference rooms have great views, including views of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport — just try not to get distracted watching BLADE take off and land.
The FiDi WeWork also boasts a new, massive fitness center, branded Rise by We. Part of a large lifestyle and wellness push by WeWork, Rise features the standard areas and equipment you’d find at a gym — cardio, strength yoga, etc. — but also includes a large room dedicated to boxing, turf-covered floors, classrooms, treatment rooms, a spa, personal and group fitness trainers, a cafe and even more. Memberships are available to current members as well as nonmembers.
And speaking of memberships, while WeWork is basically the standard bearer of the co-working scene, it may not be the best option for the nomadic worker, since it doesn’t offer day passes and memberships have to be affiliated with a home location. WeWork generally offers longer-term memberships, which give you access to common working areas, dedicated desks and office space.
Memberships come with a certain number of credits each month, which you can use to purchase access to other spaces. This means that if you or your employer is based in a WeWork location and you’re on the road, you can use those credits to visit another office for as long as you’re in the area.
The good news is that there’s a big new benefit in the works. This past fall, WeWork and Airbnb announced a partnership to provide access to working space for business travelers using the home-sharing service. Once it’s rolled out, corporate Airbnb customers can reserve a spot at the nearest WeWork when booking a stay.
Brooklyn Desks, 49 Wyckoff Avenue, Brooklyn
Brooklyn Desks has been around for a few years, opening in 2014 in a large commercial site in Bushwick. Located just off the L train, there’s easy access to the site from Manhattan or elsewhere in Brooklyn.
The 9,000-square-foot space manages to offer tons of room without feeling overwhelming or cavernous, thanks to a smart layout. Independently owned, Brooklyn Desks offers a number of options for those looking for more permanent space to work, ranging from larger offices to house your business to dedicated desks where you can leave your things when you head home for the night.
For those who are more transient and just looking for a place to work for a few hours or a day or two, Brooklyn Desks offers plenty of hot desks in an open-plan seating area where you can pull up a seat, plug in your laptop and get to work. Hot desks can be reserved directly or through the Croissant app. There are conference rooms available to reserve, fully outfitted with multimedia tools, Wi-Fi, printers and scanners.
While there are monthly and longer-term membership options at Brooklyn Desks, you can also buy one-day passes via Croissant. That includes access to the hot desks, lounge area, kitchenette and coffee, tea and water. It’s a great option if you’re working before a dinner in nearby Williamsburg or running around the city for meetings.
Beyond the regular workday, Brooklyn Desks offers occasional social and networking events for members and regulars. There’s a relaxing outdoor terrace and a large roof that you can rent for events, as well as on-site Zipcars if you need to drive to your next meeting — a full-time membership at Brooklyn Desks includes a Zipcar membership’s base fee.
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