Here’s a memory: You’re meeting up with a friend for lunch on a Wednesday. You live in Prospect Heights, they live somewhere in Queens. For no less than 50 hours a week, though, you’re across the street from each other in your respective glass towers in Midtown.
You step out of the elevator. There are pipes everywhere. Orange ottomans and lime green armchairs. Guys chilling with laptops at a grainy wooden dining table — presumably on deadline, but you wouldn’t know it if you saw them. It’s gonna be a power lunch, your friend says. She needs to be back by 2 if she wants dibs on the meditation room.
Is this adult Disneyland? No, she says, this is where we… work.
Office life doesn’t have to suck, we were told in 2018. Adam Neumann sold investors the promise of a workplace unlike any other, and used their funds to build hundreds of them. One failed IPO, three rounds of layoffs and a $60 million private jet later, the former CEO would like to say a few words.
TRD has doggedly documented the tale of the coworking startup that flew too close to the sun. If you’re exploring your own flex work options, the Select Spaces team has identified a list of alternatives a bit closer to home.
10 East 22nd Street | 3 BR | $7.5 million
Office design has come a long way since the rows upon joyless rows of identical desks of the 1960s. This is what happens when you try to apply the workflow of a factory to an office. WeWork ditched the desks but kept the exposed pipes. The result is the casual, eclectic, industrial-but-in-a-cool-way design that has served as an aesthetic blueprint for the coworking space.
Maybe it’s the comfy chairs. Maybe it’s the indoor plants. Maybe there’s just something about being surrounded by shamelessly exposed pipes that spurs productivity. Whatever it is, if it works for you, you’ll feel right at home at 10 East 22nd Street.
If you dig the WeWork look but don’t really dig leaving the house, this duplex loft can offer you all the comforts of the office right in your own home. Iron columns holding up cuffed ceilings are straight from the coworking firm’s design playbook, which itself is straight from the Industrial Revolution. Along with labor rights and the “eight”-hour work day, there’s one more thing that we have here today that 19th-century factory workers didn’t: Natural light.
Oversized windows invite you to look up from the proverbial grindstone and soak up a precious few hours of sun while you hammer away at your keyboard. The clear kitchen cabinets can be stocked with all the fun snacks your heart desires. For even more efficient snacking, grab a barstool and do your work at the counter. For an authentic WeWork-from-home experience, pour yourself a beer.
540 2nd Street | 6 BR | $4.9 million
Do you work best individually or with a group? It’s an age-old job interview question with no correct answer. If you fall on the latter end of the spectrum, open-plan offices are your friend. Go forth and collaborate, communicate and synergize to your heart’s content. Where does that leave the “I work best alone” crowd? 540 2nd Street.
For every startup guy shooting the breeze with the sales team over ping pong, there is a recluse behind a locked door working on something but you’re not gonna know anything about it until it’s done. This is a home fit for the Stephen Kings of the corporate world whose ideal office amenities are a desk, a chair and a few hours of peace and quiet.
The nooks and crannies of this pre-war Park Slope townhouse are teeming with original, period-specific features like skeleton keys and stained glass windows. Why shiver in an excessively air-conditioned conference room when you can curl up alone by the teal fireplace? Why stealth-scroll Twitter in a bathroom stall when you could grab something to read off the built-in bookcase on your way to soak in the clawfoot bathtub?
Jean-Paul Sartre, another notably brooding introvert, once said hell is other people. That may or may not be true. But heaven is, unequivocally, the sweet solitude of having a 127-year-old, four-story brownstone all to yourself.
70 West 45th Street | 6 BR | $50 million
They say you can learn a lot about a person from their desk. If this is true, then this photoof Steve Jobs tells us almost nothing. Ever the minimalist, the late Apple co-founder questioned the very principle of owning furniture. A computer on the floor was enough for the man responsible for putting one in the hands of more than a billion people and calling it an iPhone.
Would he be disgusted by the idea of a popcorn machine in an office? Would he be buddies with Adam Neumann? Who knows. One thing’s for certain: he would definitely be into 70 West 45th Street.
This penthouse manor takes “no-frills” to another level. Its commitment to feeling like a three-dimensional blank Google Doc is matched only by the palaciously barren home of Kim Kardashian West. Say what you will about this apartment’s lack of, well, everything — there’s something admittedly inspiring about an empty canvas of a work-from-home space.
The only distraction here is the Manhattan skyline. And the sauna. And the private movie theater. And that magnificent, smooth golden ceiling. The monochromatic color palette is anything but plain. Staircases create sharp angles and add visual interest. If nothing else, you’ll have the perfect Zoom backdrop.
The downtown cabin in the woods
54 7th Avenue South | 6 BR | $11.9 million
Much has been made of the importance of nature in the workplace, from indoor gardens to luscious leafy plants. Bringing the outside in is one way to go. But what about taking the inside out?
Writing sheds are not uncommon; Neil Gaiman uses one, as did Roald Dahl. While there’s a lot to be said for removing all distractions from the workspace, perhaps not everything that isn’t directly work-related is a distraction. A walk in the woods can stimulate the mind just as much as any brainstorming session. You’re bound to have a lot of those in the cabin-like 54 7th Avenue South.
Despite spanning nearly 6,000 square feet, this West Village townhouse manages to feel cozy and quaint. Nestled in greenery with windows reminiscent of an artist’s studio, this home is a scenic reminder to remote workaholics of the importance of leaving the damn house. The space lets you do this to varying degrees, depending on your workload. Take your work out to the private patio or even hold a meeting in the conference room — who needs a breakout room when you have a garden the size of a tennis court?
Sterling Cooper goes remote
30 East 29th Street, 29B | 1 BR | $2.1 million
On Peggy Olson’s first day as a secretary at the fictional advertising agency Sterling Cooper, office manager Joan Holloway advised her to always keep a fifth of something in her desk drawer. They weren’t exactly sneaky about it back then, but in 2021, if it’s not in your Zoom screen, as far as HR is concerned, it doesn’t exist. So, slick back your hair and pour yourself something strong and dark — it’s time to live out your Don Draper fantasy at 30 East 29th Street.
The Rockefeller Group outdid itself with this CetraRuddy-designed masterpiece of classic New York glamour. Glossy blacks and bronze finishes throughout the space will have you feeling like the suit-and-tied boys of Madison Avenue while you fill out your spreadsheets. Check in with your boss from the stylish Blue Room lounge or shoot some pool in between meetings; maybe go for a swim and hit the sauna afterwards, all before the 2pm meeting which, if you’re Don, you may or may not even show up to. Can you do that at WeWork? Didn’t think so.