Photo Caption: Ben Lachman, co-founder of Athens Works, poses for a portrait in its Carpenter Street offices.
Athens professionals who work from home and are feeling restless and distracted now have a convenient and organized workspace available. Athens Works is located on East Carpenter Street in uptown Athens and welcomes anyone - from visiting professionals needing a space for the day to students looking for a quiet place to study.
Co-founder Ben Lachman came up with the idea when he began holding what he calls "jelly" events. He urged local freelancers and entrepreneurs to get together every so often at a coffee shop to chat and share ideas.
When Lachman began to notice an increasing turn-out at these events, he and another Athens Works co-founder, Sid McFarland, discussed the idea of opening a space where professionals can have an organized workspace and leave distractions at home.
"We are mainly attracting people who currently work from home and don't want to anymore. They want to get out of their home environment, and they want to interact with other people," said McFarland, who heads the local web development firm Extra Nerds.
Thus began the makings of Athens Works. At its 29 E. Carpenter St. location, owned by Central Avenue United Methodist Church, the new work space was previously home to Inhale Yoga Studio.
When Lachman had heard about the studio moving locations, he said, he scoped out the space and deemed it perfect for his idea. Lachman was mostly attracted to the space due to its size and central location. He described it as being a "split space" with a work-focused area as well as a casual area.
Although Athens Works is still getting started, it has reached out to a number of people already. Joe Bell, who previously worked from home, described Athens Works as being just what he was looking for.
"Athens Works reached out to me... I've been working from home, kind of getting cabin fever, and I heard about this. Instead of being isolated at home, I come here and do everything I would have done at home, and I can actually concentrate," said Bell.
Other than just being a quiet place to do work, Athens Works is also a collaborative atmosphere where professionals can discuss ideas and ask questions of others.
"We are all in our own little homes or apartments, and we miss that sort of social aspect to work," said McFarland. "So when we come together, we still have our work, but if I have a question about iOS development, I can ask Ben. If I have a question about video, I can ask Joe. If they have a question about web design, they can ask me... We're in a work environment, even though we're doing our own individual things."
The nice thing about Athens Works, according to Lachman, is its flexibility. Even though there may be limited desk space, workers can choose their hours and decide when they want to come in.
"We may only have 20 desks, but we may have 50 clients, because some of them might only work one day a week. So the idea is, you come in, grab a desk for the day, and the next day, someone else comes in and grabs that desk," explained McFarland.
Bell said he finds this flexibility to be extremely helpful when organizing his personal life. With a child at home, he is able to work half the day, then provide for his family without paying for an all-day office.
Athens Works is currently open to anyone who wants to join, whether just for the day or for a full-time membership. Member Michael Blohm, who works for Lightborne Lore, a local game studio, encourages area at-home workers to come and experience co-working.
"If you're not sure that what you're doing is going to be suitable for the space sixth months from now, you might be right. But today, we'll make it suitable. So who we find is definitely going to have a large impact on what this space becomes," said Blohm.
According to the website, membership is currently $8 per day or $50 per month. Benefits include high-speed WiFi service, a large desk and fair-trade coffee. Monthly members receive these benefits as well as guaranteed seating and a permanent mailing address.
For more information about Athens Works, visit the website at www.athensworks.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.