Editor’s Note September

After spending decades in newsrooms, which are notorious for their lack of privacy and anything resembling quiet, transitioning to a coworking space wasn’t a huge adjustment. But there were things we weren’t expecting.

Based on my experience, the cover feature on coworking spaces captures the sense of what it’s like to share an office with people who aren’t coworkers but aren’t exactly strangers either.

When I left the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to launch Print with Ann Belser, we knew we couldn’t operate out of our homes or coffee shops (both of which have way too many distractions for Ann, who by her own admission, is prone to “magpie moments”), so we scouted the East End for a coworking spot and landed at the Beauty Shoppe.

Each morning we would make the short trip to East Liberty and stake out our space at a table on the first floor. Because money was tight and we knew we would be spending a good deal of our time outside of the office, we decided against one of the more private spaces available upstairs. Did I mention that money was tight?

After spending decades in newsrooms, which are notorious for their lack of privacy and anything resembling quiet, transitioning to a coworking space wasn’t a huge adjustment. But there were things we weren’t expecting.

  • You don’t have an IT department. If the link to the shared printer isn’t working or the Wi-Fi is down or the ambient music is on an annoying loop and you swear you will drive a pen into your ear if you have to listen to that song ONE MORE TIME … you have to just hang in there.
  • You’re all in it together, but you have to build trust. The first few times we wanted to go to lunch, we packed everything up and took it with us, favoring our laptops over the very real risk that the coveted table we had settled into that morning would be taken by some Johnny-come-lately by the time we got back from eating. As we got to know the regular crowd, we would simply ask if they were going to be around for the next hour or so and would mind keeping an eye on our stuff while we ran out to get something to eat. I don’t imagine the folks in coworking spaces in some parts of the country can do this, but it’s one of the charms of Pittsburgh that we can leave our laptops in the care of others.
  • You will find an impressive mix of entrepreneurs. Among the people we worked alongside was Sidney Kushner, who founded what is now Connecting Champions, a nonprofit that connects children with cancer with a mentor to help “bridge the developmental gap” between them and their peers, and Joanna Huss Doven, who branched out from her work with city government and launched the Huss PR Group, a public relations and marketing company.

The best thing about coworking spaces is that they offer entrepreneurs not only a place to grow but a community to grow in.

Categories: Editor