Spaces: Independents Hall (Philadelphia)
A few weeks ago, I had to make a trip to Philadelphia for a couple of days. I had a couple meetings at coffee shops, but I had staked out some time in my schedule to visit a coworking space called Independents Hall (aka @IndyHall ) while in the City of Brotherly Love.
Co-working tourism is not just a hobby of mine – our business at Independent Software is helping entrepreneurs succeed in building the next great software products. That means we work with lots and lots of people with ideas, but who often have no office, no staff…just a couple of co-founders. Understanding the best ways, the best tools, and the best places for entrepreneurs to work and succeed helps us in our mission.
What Is An Office? For That Matter, What Is Work?
It’s important to stay current with trends like co-working, maker spaces, and so on, especially now. The face and nature of work is changing rapidly – nowhere is that more evident than a successful co-working space. Coworking is defined this way by the Coworking Wiki: “The idea is simple: that independent professionals and those with workplace flexibility work better together than they do alone.”
That last phase is crucial; when you talk about with success in the world of coworking, that means strength of community.
While big, beautiful spaces are impressive (they might even be a form of compensation), coworking taps into the magic of work. It brings people into an environment where relationships, talents, and combinations (yes, I mean that mathematically) are celebrated and encouraged. When people with various unknown talents are blended together in a workspace, can openly communicate, share experiences, and take trial runs at working together, great results can emerge – from new startups, to more successful community action groups, and beyond.
As you’d expect, people are the focus in coworking – both collectively, and as individuals. So it’s logical that Indy Hall’s tagline is Better Work Starts With Better Coworkers. (For those of you from or visiting Connecticut, you can check out co-working spaces like The Grove to learn more.)
Community is like the tractor beam on the Death Star – even Obi Wan had a hard time turning it off once it was on. As I approached the doorstep of Indy Hall, Adam Teterus, the Office Manager, immediately saw me, and introduced himself. Before we were even inside, Adam had given me a thorough run-down of the space and its dynamic community of both full-time members and drifters. Although it was a slow day. The pull of the “coworking tractor beam” is palpable.
Indy Hall was formed in late 2007 – it started as a kind of “meetup to work together” at a bar. A group that included Geoff DiMasi and Alex Hillman began to meet, grow, and over time decided as a community to acquire their own permanent space.
The venue now stands at about 4,000 square feet, mostly open space, and very full of people. Blond desks for flexible space – black desks for permanent members. Because they’ve been so successful, Indy Hall is expanding their space to meet demand.
What many people in the Northeast do not realize is that coworking spaces like this are available, and are really friendly places to work. And if you already work in a co-working space, many have “reciprocal” privileges – meaning you can work at a coworking space in a city you’re visiting, as long as you contact them ahead of time.
So if you happen to be in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, instead of sitting at a sterile Starbucks to get WiFi and do work, seek out a coworking space. There are spaces where you can stop by for a day and meet people you might want to work with, or at minimum, would want to have a beer with.