Over the past few months, two coworking spaces and one coworking-oriented shared office space have opened in my hometown of Saratoga Springs, NY. They would've been easy for a local like me to miss as they didn't get a lot of local news attention. Given that this town swells with tourists during the summer and track season, I wondered if anyone visiting and needing a space to work while on vacation -- an occurrence that is sadly becoming the norm for most of us -- would be able to findthem.
That thought led me to think about not just my city, but all the vacation spots people are visiting this summer. How easy is it to find a shared workspace of any whether you're on vacation, traveling for work, or need a coworking community in your hometown? Maybe it's easy in major cities, but what about the smaller cities and towns that dot the U.S. landscape?
I decided to find out and out of a wide range of iOS apps that I tested, there are five options that I decided are your best choices for finding coworking spaces, traditional shared office space, business centers, and available desks at companies willing to rent them out.
Of the apps that I tested, LiquidSpace is definitely my favorite. The interface is extremely easy to navigate. I had no problem igning into an account, locating spaces using either my device's location or by entering a city or address, making reservations, and paying for spaces. It also provided the widest range of search criteria including cost, time, and a range of amenities, in addition to the standard location and date. Ratings and policies of each space were very easy to browse.
Although the company's database didn't list all the available spaces in my area, it listed many of them and was the only app that included general use and conference spaces at local hotels with business centers. It also included hotels that allow free use of their lobbies for business users. Searching in major metropolitan cities delivered a wide selection of options at a great range of prices.
LiquidSpace lets you sign in with a Google or LinkedIn account as well as a corporate account -- an excellent option for companies with a large distributed workforce or a lot of traveling employees.
All in all, LiquidSpace is a great first choice, but if you're going to be looking for workspaces outside major urban centers, you'll likely want to check other apps as well to be sure you're getting a complete list of options.
Desks Near Me
Desks Near Me is another solid option. Although not as polished as LiquidSpace, I found it generally easy to search by both current location and address, view options, and request reservations. It also lets you email questions to the owner/administrator of each space. Descriptions were generally accurate and search options for data/time and amenities are available. A list of recently browsed or reserved spaces made it easy to compare options as well as to rebook a space you used previously.
There was one promised feature of Desks Near Me I found really intriguing: It's supposed to integrate with your social networks and let you read feedback from contacts who have used a particular space in the past. Despite multiple attempts, however, I was unable to link the app to my accounts on the three networks that it supports -- Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Search results were a bit modest. It delivered only a single result for my immediate area and listed fewer spaces than I expected in larger cities like Boston, New York, and Washington. The results that it did deliver, however, were generally a diverse set of options.
Desks Near Me can also be accessed via the web.
Carr Workplaces takes a different approach to shared workspaces. The company, which operates office spaces of various types in major cities across nine states and Washington D.C., offers a subscription package that allows users to access desks or spaces within each of its locations. The effect is somewhat like a coworking or shared workspace chain. If you live in its service areas or travel to them frequently, Carr Workplaces are an option worth considering.
TouchDownSpace felt like a work in progress. The app itself was sluggish and had very limited search criteria compared to the other apps. The design, however, was very efficient and it made it very easy to move from viewing a list of spaces to reserving one. Like Desks Near Me, it offers a helpful history feature. Unlike Desks Near Me, it only records spaces that you've actually book rather than those that you've simply looked at.
What I found strange is that using the TouchdownSpaces web site often returned additional spaces not listed in its app. As a result your best bet here may be to use the service's site as well as the app. Or, just stick with one of the other apps in this review.
I couldn't really evaluate DeskTime's iOS app for this article. Any attempt to sign in to the app on iPhone failed -- I wasn't able to use an account that I created and used perfectly well on the web site, and I wasn't able to use my Facebook or Twitter accounts, which the app claims to support. Similar experiences are voiced in the only two reviews in the iOS App Store. Given that the last update to the app was nearly a year ago (October 22, 2013), it's hard to imagine the problem will be resolved soon.
The web site, however, is fully functional and offers great search capabilities, detailed listings, and an easy to use booking feature. It was the only service that listed all the available coworking and shared spaces in my section of upstate New York and it delivered excellent options across large and small cities throughout the country.
The breadth of the service's offerings and its mobile site make it worth noting even if its iOS app isn't functional. If other options don't offer the space you're looking for -- or any options in your location -- DeskTime is worth checking.
DeskTime is also available for Android and it appears that the Android version functions much better than the iOS version as it's received multiple glowing reviews and five-star ratings.