This office works for everybody
For most people, networking opportunities don't come about simply by sitting in your office. But when you work where Claire Wasserman does, you never know whom you'll meet.
Wasserman, part of a seven-member team for the experiential marketing firm Street Attack, finds some of the best leads for expanding the firm's business by working at Grind, a collaborative workspace at 419 Park Ave. South. Recently, she struck up a conversation with Justin Oberman, a freelance creative director who was sitting nearby. Soon, Street Attack and Oberman were collaborating on a campaign for Blackwing pencils, and they have worked together on several projects since.
Of course, this isn't your average stuffy corporate setup. At Grind, a changing flow of entrepreneurs and independent workers from industries spanning the business world come to set up shop in a loft-like space filled with couches and tables.
Workers pay $35 a day or $500 a month to use the space, and they generally have to be referred by current members to join.
The diversity is what draws people here: Having workers from various industries all in one room makes it easier and faster to network, collaborate on projects and, in some cases, form new companies.
"There's something to be said about being surrounded by a large contingency of entrepreneurs, creatives, and business minds that enable conversations and collaborations to unfold more swiftly," said Street Attack founder Brett Zaccardi. "The 'water cooler' takes on new meaning at Grind."
Even the open layout is beneficial, Zaccardi added. Street Attack previously worked at a space in Dumbo, but it was chopped up into cubicles and didn't promote interaction between workers, he said.
For Lauren McDevitt and Josh Wais, working around people from other industries is essential to the success of their website, Wantworthy.com, which lets users save products from any shopping site onto a master wish list.
"With Wantworthy, we're building a tool for mainstream shoppers, so we want to be surrounded by an environment that reflects that," McDevitt said. "Being around people from diverse industries sets the right tone for a product that's built for a similarly diverse audience."
And at Grind, the two even found a new chance to promote their website: A writer working there decided to feature it in Jones Magazine.
Some 70 to 100 members work at Grind each day, but entrepreneurs and freelancers aren't the only types found there. At least 15 employees from Fortune 500 corporations work out of Grind instead of their company's office on a daily basis, according to Grind co-founder Benjamin Dyett. The place was so popular that it reached capacity three months after opening in September 2011. An additional NYC workspace is expected to open in July, Dyett said, as well as a Grind location in Los Angeles.
"The work future is not what we've seen in the past," he added. "Technology, coupled with the current economy, has changed the way people work permanently."
Other NYC spaces for independent workers:
Wix Lounge, 10 W. 18th St., free, work and event space
The Yard, 33 Nassau St. in Brooklyn, $95 and up, virtual office, library, private office or open lounge
New Work City, 412 Broadway, $30 to $300 monthly membership