I started at Vibe back in the day when they were still in their temporary location, the Vibe Lab. I was a complete novice to the concept of coworking. What was all the fuss about? Here’s the thing: there was no fuss at all.
Coworking immediately made sense to my mind, body and soul. The casual conversation, the spark of ideas, the friendly ecosystem. The snacks! The waffles! The private phone booths to breathe deeply in, next to others with missions of their very own. A re-energizing facility with focus, true and deep. Productivity, well harnessed and well spent.
That was nearly a year ago. Now, I’m hooked. This is my story of coworking.
A hearty welcome
The fig jam, the triple-cream brie, the cracker extravaganza, and cookies by the dozen (three kinds!). Fresh strawberries and voluptuous grapes—and my personal favorite of spinach and artichoke and parmesan dip. All the snacks are here today, begging for attention on the kitchen island. I can’t resist.
It’s not everyday that there’s such an expansive spread of snacks greeting me upon arrival, but when there is, I enjoy it. It’s just another Friday morning at Vibe.
Many of us come here, truly, to satisfy a hunger of another kind. No more crumbs on the family sofa, or rummaging haphazardly in the fridge as a means of professional procrastination. No lollygagging on social media or watching “Ellen” religiously. No more impromptu napping in the Barcalounger or tapping away on my laptop in embarrassingly fluffy, cotton candy-pink slippers.
Instead, at Vibe, I find true nourishment. A vital, organic connection, mobilizing restoration in that ever-elusive work-life balance. In short breaks from heat-seeking, missile-like projects and preposterous deadlines, I lift my head. My shoulders follow suit. Here’s my wake-up call; here’s the clarity I’ve been craving for goal setting.
Compelled by the productivity of others, I’m able to join with fellow Vibists in collaborating, making friends, creating. All of these things whet my appetite to do more and be more. All without the politics or power dynamics of a traditional office (though there’s plenty of empowerment to be had).
And yes, we enjoy a good snack when they appear.
A Rare Affair
I read an article recently (“The Future of Work: How Workspaces Are Changing to Meet Worker Needs”) that talked a lot about how “people most value comfortable, inviting workspaces with flexible working arrangements and built-in communities.” I’m not surprised. With the gig economy booming, the 21st century workforce appears to be running, not walking, in the direction of flexible workspace and shared coworking communities.
And while the unanointed might easily surmise that Vibe is on trend, those of us who call this place home know better. Vibe Coworks, our local, independently owned coworking space, is ahead of the game, a leader in this space—right here in Kitsap.
Remember the first time you walked into the Vibe Coworks flagship location in The Centennial? I do. I remember the sense of awe and wonder as I stepped across the threshold into what felt like a cathedral experience.
Cascades of light through massive windows, the ceiling just short of vaulted, the unadulterated simplicity and synergy of space that meets opportunity. Aesthetics galore with eye candy graphics and alive colors. Being encouraged, expected even, to write and color on the walls, my inner child came out to play.
A place that you could fall in love with, feel at home in, get game-changing work done.
This is the place we now know and love as Vibe.
Whether I need to simply take a breath, brainstorm, get laser focus or do some California daydreaming, I find the space for it here. A fellow Vibist taps his feet and yodels a bit to his own beat; I listen with a smile, as do my fellow Vibe members.
One one side of the space, I find that the open plan shared desks feel like a new age classroom—without the lectures. My favorite nook? The two broad-backed, slate gray acoustic couches in the middle of the café. Oh, and the balcony on the sunny summer day. Score.
Morning Power Hour
Two of my favorite Vibists are sitting at my usual open desk. I nestle in between them, and we have a warm-up morning chat about how we’re the 50+ power demographic. Someone teases: You don’t look your age but your face does. Giggle.
What age am I? I remember turning 21, like yay, but now when asked, I pause and think to myself: I know I’m somewhere between 40 and 60, so early 50s?
At the table next to us sits another powerhouse in the cabal that we’ve warmly dubbed “outside the intended Vibe demographic” (“Whatever that is,” someone chuckles, because our citizenry is completely cosmopolitan in matters of age, informing one of many benefits of being a member of the Vibe tribe).
I think of the perfect answer. Shrug when someone asks how old you are, because—while one of my fellow Vibists laughs it off, sometimes younger folks don’t get that we’re whole people too, full of productivity, creativity, wisdom and connectivity.
Then there’s the gentle, gorgeous-minded woman sitting at the table kitty corner from our trifecta. I refer to her as professor emeritus, no membership required.
I’m reminded of Jonathan Webb, a business marketer and workspace designer who likes to point to the fact that “iIn coworking]…People share ideas and collaborate with professionals across disciplines and across generations.”
Giggling along with us, another fellow member is a study in rich color, sitting on the new turquoise couch, a dashingly beautiful scarf wrapped around her like a comfort blanket. I’ve heard that more than persona has been caught napping and another nearly nodded off last week on this inviting chaise lounge. There’s a place for everything and everyone here at Vibe.
It’s part of the richness of the fabric in our coworking engagement.
Time for a lunch break. I meet the most interesting people here.
Today, my lunch break coincides with an educator, evaluator and wildlife enthusiast who also happens to be a not-so-secret sketch artist of the natural world. She’s just come back from a weekend at a hummingbird conference because “I admire them.” Returning from Canada, she and her husband discovered the small village of Yarrow where they landed on a tour of a life-size magic castle, built on-site for a Hollywood theme park. They also meet a pottery specialist at what sounds to be a most charming studio.
Meanwhile, another lunching Vibist shares that she’s just won an award as one of the top 12 food photographers in Seattle. She’s super shy about it (but beaming). Between bites, another member coaches me through a mini-crisis related to my recent client ad campaign. We lament briefly about the travails of corporate micro-management, which, after 25 years of freelancing, I’d forgone and forgotten.
The kitchen at Vibe Coworks is at the center of the space, which means that people pass by just as often as they stop to eat or fill up on coffee. While we’re chatting, Brett breezes by, his bright, mischievous face aglow from a recent 6 Month Startup meetup, while us lunching Vibists get chatting about sugar cartels and their catastrophic global impact through what are basically weaponized processed foods (see the Netflix movie Well Fed).
There’s lots of good dish served up around the kitchen island at Vibe.
The Down Low
I head to the café for chat with Maren about how the days unfold in her life at Vibe. “I would say I get far more out of it than I invest every month, and that’s the way it’s been since Day One,” she says with a big smile.
It comes to her in different ways. Sure, there’s the obvious face value of super powered wifi run on fiber, beautiful meeting rooms, scoops of nooks and crannies, soundproof phone booths, unlimited free coffee, and the espresso, artisan chocolate, and crepes available downstairs. “But like all really great things in life, the true benefits are intangible. You have to experience Vibe to really understand what it means,” she adds.
I ask her to tell me more. In the territory in which freelancers have typically roamed, often wild and free as mustangs, there aren’t that many opportunities to meet nice new people (unless you join a lawn bowling club, she suggests).
“A lot of interactions in our season of life—or any season, for that matter—can feel forced. Can you see yourself walking up to a person at a coffee shop and chatting them up? Here, it’s the best of both worlds,” Maren elaborates.
Sure you have all the things at your fingertips that make you a more productive UX designer, manufacturer, inventor, writer, empath, but here you can take a break with Vibe mates and feel ready for the next challenge. You can just have fun and live a little. These interactions happen naturally and organically, without the stress of going to a networking or professional development event, where handing out business cards replaces a look-you-in-the-eyes handshake.
“It’s like college for adults,” continues Maren. “You have your main ‘school’ work, but then you have a lunchroom, study breaks, speakers that come in. It’s all genuine. I’ve learned about South America, taxes, cyber security, branding, and health insurance from different professional presentations. I had the chance to join the Fuel Your Vibe wellness challenge together with Dan Hollingsworth from Kitsap CrossFit (talk about a wake-up call!), and there are things like lunch+learns with fellow members doing a slideshow on a recent trip they took. I love how Vibe is always looking for new ideas to grow our minds—and hearts.”
A Feel-Good Afternoon
I focus in on my tasks for the day, deadlines galore. Web content for an electrical engineering firm, a B2B ad campaign for gourmet and bath salts by the bulk, a food and beverage manufacturer’s latest promotion, the Brazilian who needs a brand name for his orthopedic, stainproof/waterproof doggy bed, ghostwriting on the memoir about an Alaskan aviation legend.
I need a belly laugh or just a moment for myself.
I look up and out; the splendor of the sun streaming through the massive windows. That sensation of a cathedral; there it is again. And a treehouse effect, too, because that’s all I see from where I’m sitting. Green and glassy leaves clapping hands. Suddenly, just like the bright afternoon that defies the weather logic of the Pacific Northwest, I am all shine. I christen the doggy bed Cloud.
Sunday Stroll on a Wednesday
One afternoon, a couple of middle-aged women (or is it a daughter and mother?) walk in, strolling right on past the welcome desk as if they’re on a walk in the park. As if they own the place, committed to a sense of authority, the duo beelines to one of the phone booths.
The front desk host on staff bounces up from the kitchen island to greet them as warmly as if they had manners. Those of us seated with our lunches are agog. Who are these people who feel so utterly welcome that they require no introduction? Then they shift midstream and start to explore the hallways, enthralled by Vibe. We can’t help but laugh over this audacity.
A collective sigh (although the host on duty is shepherding them with a deft hand). This is how they come to us: without reservation.
It’s also a reminder of how well we’re looked after here. Those coffee shop fears over whether you can leave your valuables out while you make a rushed bio break? Not here. Here we work in confidence, knowing that our space and things are secure, and that rogue visitors will quickly be curtailed.
Home Alone (Unless You Count the Kitten)
For many remote and freelance workers, working at home can be a zero-sum game. I’m embarrassed to say that my 9:00 a.m. starts with “Live with Kelly and Ryan” (who is that saccharine chap?), but I don’t hold back on “The View” in the following hour. Then there are the sour cream and green onion Pringles for lunch, segueing into an hour-long stroll three blocks to get a doppio. Why should I miss out on a clear, warm day in Poulsbo?
So working at home these days—well, consider the pot holes and speed bumps.
The kitten chases a fly all over the house, making for pet slapstick that I has me riveted (and utterly in compromise of my due date for SaltWorks sales content). One of my oldest friends, in whose wedding I was when we were young and restless, calls from Philly; divorce looms on the horizon. My son comes home from baseball practice, pink and alive with his love of the sport and wants a good cuddle. I am caught up in all the threads of life…but work buzzes around my horizon like the alarm bell of yellow-jacketed wasps. All understandable, all predictable and, often enough, far-too welcome.
That’s just for starters. My latest weapon of mass distraction? Closed captioning. My best friend from high school, visiting from California for a little pre-Christmas cheer, and I were watching a detective thriller called “Bang” on Prime Video. We couldn’t wrap our heads around the character chatter of “scouse,” an accent and dialect, according to Wikipedia, of English found primarily in a metropolitan county outside Liverpool. On went the closed-captioning option and, months later, I have never turned it off.
No surprise that simultaneously reading, listening to and watching television shows carries me even further off the page. It’s quite addictive and the content, relating to the sound effects, the music track and off-camera dialogue, can be lively and entertaining, adding a whole new dimension to drama: Horns blare. Pills rattle.
Suspenseful music plays. Buzzing. Police radio. Chatter. Clicks. A lock engages. Chimes tinkle. A dog yowls (and sometimes, inadvertently, music lyrics hog the captioning). Now I have to wean myself of another aspect of screen interfacing.
Vibe Coworks to the rescue.
Remembrance of Things Past
Vibe leans my work out. It gets to the muscle, the fiber, the heart of the stories my projects and clients want to tell. Featuring bright-eyed events and series and meetups, being here shaves off the downtime; so much more uptime. And best of all? You make friends along the way; you look forward to the Thursday happy hour coming soon to Crabtree; you cross paths with the inimitable Nancy Bos, and can talk shop about owning your voice and how to help others achieve that.
I’m reminded of Maren telling me: “Becoming a Vibe member has not only made me a better writer, but also a more well-rounded and happier person. I look forward to all the other things and opportunities here to come.”
Not to mention there’s great coffee—and even better Space Captains, the best of nicknames that they’ve given to the front desk hosts.
Vibe adds shape, substance and shine to my ever-shifting dreams. The days connect to passion and purpose alike, and I spend them well here.
Work happy, as Vibe founder Alanna often says. And indeed I do.