Locus is a nice, cozy place for coworking. Do not know what that means?
Coworking is big trend of the last few years. Independent professionals work in a shared working environment, and rent offices or other rooms as necessary.
We have used Locus and wanted to let you know how that works.
Will Bennis, the boss of it, showed us around.
How did you get the idea to start Locus, and when?
Three things came together that all made Locus seem like the right thing to do:
1) I was in graduate school working on my Ph.D. in a department with very little structure or supervision (ironically called the Committee on Human Development). This was in 2003. It was mostly up to us to get our dissertation written after a year or two of field research. I would guess 80% of the students at this stage in the Ph.D. in this department were struggling, many taking full time jobs or leaving academia all together, even though the university was very selective and this group had been over-achievers throughout their lives.
At that time, I thought there was a real need for a resource out there (if you weren't making enough money to hire a personal coach or weren't troubled enough to need more institutional help) to help smart, capable people to do their best work when their primary challenge is internal (motivation, clarity of purpose, etc.). I talked to several friends and learned about a few "writers' spaces" in Chicago (where I was living at the time). These were basically the kind of place I was looking for, except they were specifically targeting professional writers and there weren't activities to bring people together and help them achieve their best, and I thought seriously at the time about starting a space that would have meet-ups and seminars and other resources and activities to help people stay focused and clarify their own goals and tasks--to generally do their best--along with providing a great place to work.
2) In mid-2007 I was leaving the Czech Republic after a visit here with my wife (who's Czech). I was at the airport with a good friend, and we were talking about business ideas. He said something like, "In the office of the future, everybody will just walk outside the door of their home to some nice office on their block, check in to work there, and start working. The coworkers will work for other companies around the world, and that radically local office will provide all the infrastructure and resources that everyone needs to work successfully." That sounded to me like a prescient picture of a near future, at least for the "knowledge economy," as well as a great business idea.
It complemented the previous idea, and it was a business I thought I could feel good about if done right: it has great potential for promoting sustainability (people can live and work locally, reducing commutes and the congestion and resources usage that goes with it), it helps people do their best who otherwise might not (the reason I was drawn to workspace idea in the first place), and it seemed to have real business potential. At this point, cafés in the U.S. were already packed on a daily basis with laptop workers spending their days there. Creating something directly targeted that community with a better infrastructure for productive/professional work seemed like a great idea. A couple days after returning to the U.S., I started searching for similar kinds of businesses in the U.S., and stumbled upon the "coworking" google group and wiki and realized the idea wasn't entirely new, it was just difficult to find (unless you already knew what to search for).
3) In 2008, my wife and I decided to move back to the Czech Republic and I decided to leave academia (my career path at the time). There aren't a lot of job opportunities for a mediocre-Czech speaker with my qualifications in Prague, and I was pretty excited about trying to start up this kind of business and thought Prague, with its very international and metropolitan stature, would be a perfect place for it. Coworking was taking off around the world, but at this point there weren't any spaces in Prague, and that's where we knew we wanted to live, so I decided to do it, and started seriously researching and planning the project here.
Tell us a bit about yourself, what did you do before? And do you have
other activities too?
Since 1997 I've been training or working as a social scientist, first going to graduate school at the University of Chicago (in the Department of Psychology and the Committee on Human Development), then working as a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition, in Berlin, and then in cognitive psychology at Northwestern University in Chicago. I study decision making processes and the cultural and cognitive factors that contribute to them. I'm still involved in this work, both with ongoing projects and Northwestern, and teaching in the psychology department at University of New York in Prague.
How long did it take from the idea to the opening?
7 years from the first seed of an idea, 2 years from deciding this is what I wanted to do, and just a few months from moving back to Prague and settling in.
What is Locus? Who might find it useful?
Locus Workspace is a shared office ("coworking") space in Prague intended to help independent workers of all kinds work more effectively, professionally, and enjoyably. Coworking is the personal choice to work alongside others by people who have the choice to work from almost anywhere. Locus's members are a collaborative and knowledgeable community of freelancers, writers, entrepreneurs, and creatives from around the world with the shared goal of successfully working as independents in Prague.
One features that separates Locus from other coworking spaces is its international emphasis (in many ways Locus is a kind of "Prague/Czech Republic integration center"), helping people who want to live and work in Prague to get set up and working successfully and connectedly very quickly and affordably, as well as allowing Czechs to work in an international, English-language environment surrounded by talented, smart people from around the world.
PEOPLE AND ROBOTS
Weirdest/best stories that happened during its existence?
No really weird stories yet, unfortunately (or fortunately?). We've had some great non-work-related times, I suppose: paint ball, a weekend canoe trip with rain the entire time, mushroom picking, Russian movie night, with spicy vodka and Russian appetizers. One member's programmable robot has yet to visit the space, or that might top the list.
What are your plans for the next year or so?
Continue with the same: teaching and running the space. Always looking for potential collaboration with people passionate about the coworking idea or able to help provide complementary services.
Your favourite websites?
Anything else to say?