If you freelance, you've probably felt the odd moment of loneliness, a certain craving to be around people, even relative strangers. Many freelancers want the best of both worlds: The freedom to do what you want, but with the camaraderie of warm-blooded folk at your elbow.
In which case, a new desk-hopping service called Deskcamping may be the answer. It matches up free space with freelancers wanting to meet more people. The site, developed in the U.K. by designer Nick Couch, already features a few dozen desks in London, New York, and Berlin. For example, you can rent space on Manhattan's Lower East Side for $99 a week, or something with views of the Hudson for $400 a month.
There are several desk sharing sites already, including ShareDesk. But, according to Couch, Deskcamping is different because it tries to find an emotional match between parties. "We made Deskcamping because all the other desk listing sites focus on facilities and not feelings," he wrote in an email. "We wanted to make sharing office space more personal."
As well as pictures and details about facilities (Open Weekends, Dogs Allowed), each listing includes the lister's self-diagnosis of "office personality traits." So, offices are "Head Bubbles" (everyone wears headphones), places where "Library Rules" apply (no talking), where people are dressed smartly ("Sharp"), and where drinks ("Cheers ears") and flirting ("Desk Cruising") sometimes occur.
The 12 traits were masterminded by Simon Roberts, a social anthropologist. "Facilities such as printing, Wi-Fi, tea/coffee are necessary but not sufficient to allow someone looking for office space to discriminate between the different office spaces available to them," Roberts writes at the Deskcamping website. "It’s the stuff that is harder to capture—the culture—that people want to know about."
There's also a set of "vibes" for people looking to rent space. For example, you can call yourself "a yanker"—as in someone who's happy to help out when the printer's jammed. "It's not exactly like a dating website, but it helps both sides get a feel for each other," Couch says.
Ultimately, Couch hopes the site, which launched in December, will help develop fruitful collaborative relationships, not merely flog available real estate. "In its most basic form, Deskcamping is a place to find desk space, but over the past few months we've started to see a profile emerge of the types of workspaces and freelancers that sign up," he says. "They're looking for something beyond a transactional exchange."