It’s very easy to live in a bubble in a coworking space. Despite the events, kitchen offerings and sometimes co-worker antics, one can slip into isolation without even trying. Which is why I’ve made my fair number of attempts to integrate myself into all of the Hub by sitting in various places. My all-time fav and go-to is the Focus Zone. It’s quiet and I can get work done undisturbed… mostly. But every once in a while, in an effort to get to know others and add variety to my usual habit of Focus Zoning, I tread over to the other side, which is always an unorthodox and interesting experience.
“I fear I won’t be quiet enough for the Focus Zone.”
In all honesty, the Focus Zone isn’t totally noise-free. There is carryover from the CIC coworking space, floating voices from phone calls being taken in the hallway near the printers, not to mention the Socrates’ meeting room conversations that are determined to seep out. But compared to the other side of the Hub, it’s peace and quiet nirvana, it’s got a library-like hush. That’s one of the great things about coworking in a thoughtfully-designed community such as Impact Hub. Whether you think of yourself as a workplace introvert or extrovert, whether you are in the mood for conversation or heads-down work, there is space for you. It’s not a one-size-fits-all space.
A great thing about the Focus Zone is that there are rules and should anyone break them, the community enforces those rules with usually a bothered look which can turn into an irritated one. If I’m looking, you might get a little pointed stare accompanied by a throat clearing. Still not getting the message? Well, a little post-it note will be delivered to your desk asking you to please take your phone call or conversation elsewhere. Of course, the guilty party gives the whole “I didn’t know” body language apology as they scurry away which Focus Zoners don’t buy because “you’ve been here long enough to know buddy”.
So what’s it like to leave the sanctity of quiet and go AWOL?
“I love that this side is loud and energetic….it’s where my people are.”
If you are an introvert, an open office where talking is permitted can feel like the “dark side.” I readied myself for the incessant flow of noise.…may the force be with me. Its buzz of energy: talking, networking, connecting. Oriented newbies asking questions at the community tables, FaceTime conversations from the soft seat areas, Hub Hosts talking to members, snapping pictures and talking to each other. The kitchen is the heart of the Hub, and there’s always activity there: the hum of the espresso machine, impromptu conversations, snacks at all hours and meals being shared. It’s the opposite of the quiet of the Focus Zone. If you are considering coworking for the community, to make new friends, and to avoid those afternoon conversations with your cat, the “regular” zone is the place for you. If you’re more a headphones fan, though, you might prefer the Focus Zone.
Does all of this make the “dark side” (from an introvert’s perspective) unwelcoming? Not for the many who dwell there. As a Focus Zone purist, my curiosity was peaked to find out what made this side a better fit for the majority of the Hub. The biggest pro? Sociability. One member from She Geeks Out said she comes in to collaborate with her colleagues, something she wouldn’t be able to do at home. This side is “where their people are”. Shockingly, some love the sounds, the energy, the smell of baked goods despite also hearing people chewing. They love being in the know, especially when being productive includes an opportunity to share ideas. Interestingly enough, one Hubber pointed out that the area by the kitchen is very lively but it gets quieter by the open desks near the printer hallway that connects to the Focus Zone, allowing them to experience a little bit of both worlds.
Are these Hubbers anti-Focus Zone? Not at all, however, they harbor some fears about escaping to the quieter side. From fear of munching noisily to speaking aloud to themselves while working, some Hubbers feel they would disturb the zen Focus Zoners swaddle themselves in. One member felt it would be rude to leave her team and colleagues to work in the Focus Zone. If they want quiet, they’ll put on their headphones and drown out the noise with music. Graunt Kruger, a regular Focus Zoner who has been AWOL for some time, loves the proximity of the phone booths by the high tables which allows him to take calls more readily. Although he promises to return, the Jedi Order has doubts.
So for these rebels, the work and chatter are the foundations that make up their daily work community. And admittedly, I have even had great conversations there that wouldn’t happen in the Focus Zone. This is the variety that makes Impact Hub a place for everyone, Storm Troopers, Jedi Knights and all. My ultimate goal in joining Impact Hub was to find a place to work and meet people. I was an introvert gone rouge. Ironically, rogue ended up meaning going AWOL once in a blue moon to the dark side. And between that and kitchen conversations, I can return to quiet satiated after having fed on the nurturing that is community.