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When you can’t work from home, Part 2

Dec 08, 20033 mins

TechSpace offers part-time office space for teleworkers, free Wi-Fi for drop-ins

The trouble with fulltime telework for some is the distractions — dogs, babies and the like. For others like me, it’s the isolation. Some days I feel like Tom Hanks in “Cast Away” before he met Wilson the Volleyball. I make up excuses to go to the supermarket, follow my boys around chattering when they come home from school, and place undue importance on mundane events, like my car’s upcoming 5,000 mile maintenance checkup. Before Thanksgiving when my phone didn’t ring and e-mail was spam, I joked later that I thought I had died but no one on the other side had told me yet.

Exploring alternatives to at-home telework, last week we looked at Suiteworks, a Toronto company that’s building executive telework centers in communities where large numbers of workers commute to an urban center. Here, we’ll look at TechSpace, a firm that suits my needs a bit better — offering a place to work one or two days per week, to hold meetings or just to keep from going crazy.

TechSpace got its start providing corporate office space and services to start-ups and small and midsize businesses. Currently, it has two facilities in New York (in the West Village and south of Union Square), one in Boston and one in southern California, its home base. More locations are planned for the future.

Recently the company announced it’s adding new offerings geared to teleworkers, freelancers and mobile workers. TechSpace’s new FlexSpace services provide what the company calls “a complete business identity solution.” That means a workspace (typically a cube), a live phone receptionist to answer your calls, voice mail, a business and postal address and mailbox, as well as use of conference rooms. Plans include the casual drop-in FlexSpace, which costs $150 per month and $15 per hour; FlexSpace 4, which gives you a dedicated office space one day per week for $225 per month; and FlexSpace 8, which gives you the same two days per week for $350 per month.

Services include all the technology; Wi-Fi broadband, and infrastructure services such as VPN and Microsoft Exchange support. (Microsoft is a company investor.) For small companies, TechSpace offers a full range of application service provider services.

TechSpace is also adding “HotSpaces” to all its facilities — free Wi-Fi access to anyone who signs ups either in person or online. There are common areas for casual drop-in work, and TechSpace hopes its free Wi-Fi access will encourage visitors to sign up for one of the monthly plans. You can just drop in and log on, but since you must provide your e-mail address, count on some follow up.

TechSpace President Michael Simmons says the business is built on providing full infrastructure services to small companies (1 to 100 workers) and he doesn’t expect to make a ton of money off casual or part-time teleworkers any time soon.

“What we’re working on is a 10-year plan,” he says. “As enterprises downsize, they’re creating a more non-traditional workforce. Since our facilities are equipped to support them, it’s something we’re doing.”

Next week I’m in New York for a security show (the travel’s what saves me) and will drop by the Union Square TechSpace and let you know what I think.