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Tired of telecommuting? Try a coworking space

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A need breed of coworking spaces offer environments that help enrich workdays -- from classes to workout areas to special events.

Telecommuting has long been a growing part of the new workplace, but the experience can also be isolating. Some people simply need a place to go every day, away from the house, where they can interact with peers.

theOffice, a coworking space in Santa Monica. Photo: theOffice

Underneath the latest proliferation of startups, independent contract work, and ad-hoc teams is a new shift in real estate -- away from standard, structured long-term office space, and toward "coworking" spaces that are priced on an as-needed basis, and provide collaborative accommodations -- with high-speed Internet, of course.

Many of these coworking spaces also offer environments that help enrich workdays -- from classes to workout areas to special events. Some have artwork on display, while others feature "green" areas. Some charge monthly membership fees, others charge by the day and are available to walk-ins.

Beth Buczynski of Sharable: Work & Enterprise just put together a list of the funkiest co-working spaces across the United States. Here is a sampling of some of the most outstanding spaces:

theOffice, Santa Monica, CA: Provides coworkers "with a beautifully designed office full of calming elements: an indoor tree, muted colors, and soft lighting," Buczynski notes.  An added plus: "J.J. Abrams and other notable entertainment industry professionals are among theOffice’s charter members."

654 Work Cottage, Grand Rapids, Michigan: "654 really takes advantage of its homey feel, featuring a rotating gallery of work by local artists for visitors and coworkers to enjoy, and opening up work spaces including the porch, living room, phone booth, study, den and even the garage."

Icehouse, New Orleans, LA: "Originally a 1920s icehouse in New Orleans, this space boasts humongous headspace: a 30-foot ceiling complete with plenty of natural light from nine large skylights."

Citizen Space, San Francisco/San Jose, CA, Las Vegas, NV (soon): "Citizen Space is also a great place to learn, with classes for art, wine, photography, and food."

Office Nomads, Seattle, WA: "Featuring no-reservation drop-in access as well as membership, this busy neighborhood space is open to everyone."

Strongbox West, Atlanta, GA: "Complete with a pirate flag, Strongbox in Atlanta is a fun and funky place to get work done. Members can work privately, or with others, drinking free coffee and enjoying a collaborative space."

Ignition Alley, Atlanta, GA: "Ignition Alley took all the best elements from coffee shops, networking groups, fitness clubs, and offices, and brought it all together into one space."

Indie Ballard, Seattle, WA: "The space boasts indoor bike parking and a shower."

Coffee & Power, San Francisco, CA: "Coffee & Power is reportedly free to join, but members have to take on missions to help out others.... Notable investors in this coworking space include Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman."

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Joe McKendrick

Contributing Editor

Joe McKendrick is an independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. He is a co-author of the SOA Manifesto and has written for Forbes, ZDNet and Database Trends & Applications. He holds a degree from Temple University. He is based in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure