10 Reasons to Office at The Department
As a seasoned professional, but newly-minted entrepreneur, I wanted to start my business off right. The #1 killer of small businesses is cash flow, so launching from a home office seemed like the smart choice. Plus, taking conference calls in pajamas—isn’t that the dream?
However, I knew within a few weeks that working from home was an absolute disaster. The first problem was that home bled into work in the form of distraction (“I should really run a load of laundry first”) and procrastination (“Zero commute means I can sleep until 8:00, right?”). The second problem was that work bled into home in the form of guilt (“I didn’t finish the thing today”) and preoccupation (“I should really be finishing the thing”). Combining work and home made me ineffective at both.
Still, I hung on out of sheer stubbornness. How could I admit to such a disappointing lack of self-discipline? Then I realized that I was battling over two decades of conditioning. I was “raised” on a cube farm! For my entire adult career, I have been surrounded by coworkers emitting some level of background noise and energy. To be truly productive, I needed to get back into my native working environment.
Coworking seemed like the logical choice, blending low cost with the separate professional location I needed. Ah, but where? There are loads of choices in the Phoenix metro area, and it seems like more are popping up every day. Obviously, I did most of my preliminary research on the internet. Then I created a spreadsheet to analyze factors like conference room rates, client parking, and the cost to upgrade from “floating” to a full-blown office with a door. When I’d whittled down the list to my top 4 choices, I visited in person to gauge the overall vibe.
Clearly, I ended up at The Department.
Here are my 10 reasons why:
I could have commuted in any direction, but downtown really is centrally located in relation to my external meetings. I can pack a full schedule without losing the bulk of my day to travel time.
Change of Scene
My previous office was in the Camelback Corridor, also 20 minutes from my place. There are several coworking spaces in that neighborhood as well, but I’ve really liked getting acquainted with a new part of town. It almost feels like I’ve moved to a new city!
Some coworking offices I considered were too fancy to be functional. They looked great, but the chairs were uncomfortable, the desks were too small, or there were limited seating options. Rather than relying too heavily on renting offices, The Department’s business model allows for much more open seating. There are high-top drafting desks, long tables, sofas, bar stools, and ample phone booths for private conversations.
The Department has an industrial look which is beautiful by design. The central staircase acts as a dramatic vault ceiling to the 6th floor, and the openness of the coworking space invokes collaboration and friendliness. Conference rooms are well-appointed, and the furnishings don’t look tired after so much heavy use. It’s impressive without trying too hard, and both suits and jeans feel appropriate.
I knew a long drive would make it less likely I’d actually go to the office, and would therefore frustrate my purpose in paying for coworking in the first place. The Department is less than 20 minutes from my home by either the freeway or surface streets.
During my tour of The Department, I was delighted to see much more than your basic fridge, microwave, and coffee maker. There is an industrial-size water filter with unlimited crunchy ice, not just a jug on a spigot. They even have a Vitamix blender for all your power smoothie needs and equipment for amateur baristas to prepare coffee at least 3 different ways. Paper and plastic tableware is provided, but there is also a full-size dishwasher for cups and containers from home. The fridge always has space, and the microwaves are never nasty. Best of all, there is enough seating for a group, and the room is large enough that smells don’t carry and linger.
I imagine that every coworking space includes free paper clips and access to a stapler. However, The Department provides thoughtful additions like Clorox wipes and Band-aids and aspirin—things I stashed at my previous office and took for granted until I had to potentially do without.
Hundreds of pages of printing/copying per month and the free notary service were welcome surprises, but I was even happier about the keycard access to the elevator. Every person in the office is either a member or is escorted by one. I feel comfortable leaving my stuff out instead of packing up every time I have to hit the restroom. With unlimited soft drinks, that tends to be often.
The Department provides bagels, donuts, and fruit every Wednesday for breakfast. They periodically host networking events for members and guests. Everyone is invited to a Slack workspace to share announcements, job postings, and referrals. It feels like a real community, not just a bunch of strangers sharing a room.
All of the aforementioned were great perks which persuaded me to select The Department. However, what really stuck out to me were the little details. Mints at the front desk. Emergen-C packets in the kitchen. Ziploc bags for leftovers. A small bucket of Hershey’s miniatures for those times when one piece of chocolate will get you through the rest of the day. They had anticipated every need, and I was thoroughly impressed. Then I walked into the restroom and saw a dainty side table stocked with dental floss, mouthwash, hairspray, lotion, and even spray deodorant!
My New Office Home
I didn’t commit right away. I came back to try it out for a day, but the truth is they had me at deodorant. No other coworking space was that thoughtful. No other company truly understood the business they’re in—helping me grow my business by eliminating all the minutiae of the physical work environment. I realized as soon as I saw that canister that everything would be easier if I was here.
I joined in January 2020, and I’ve loved it every day since.
[This remarkably well-written (and unsolicited) blog post came from LeeAnn Blanchard, a member of The Department since January 2020. She owns a private equity company which specializes in assisting investors who either need to deploy cash or who want better rates of return on their fixed income portfolios. She is entirely delightful and a remarkable networker.
Please feel free to reach out to her at (206) 618-8725 if you’d like to make a connection or find out more about her business.]