San Francisco is turning into a national leader in the establishment of low-overhead co-working spaces, thanks to a glut of startups growing faster than they can buy space, a disproportionately large freelance workforce, and a new breed of tech firms unwilling to provide space or materials to anyone other than engineers and executives. Since the Bay Area’s largest co-working company WeWork has been marred with worker mistreatment issues that apparently still continue today, Bay Area freelancers and gig economy proles may be looking for an alternative when they need that motivation to actually take a shower, change out of their pajamas, and have genuine human interaction during the course of their work day.
A new co-working space provider called Campsyte seeks to provide that alternative in a kitschy and whimsical environment. Their newly opened location OutCamp at 9 Freelon Street (in the vicinity of Fourth and Brannan) was recently profiled in Hoodline because of its retro-style campers and trailers, though they do have a few more conventional office space rental locations downtown. Describing themselves as “a shared on-demand backyard getaway” in the automated chatbot that pops up when you visit their website, OutCamp also provides WiFi, printer access, and free artisan coffee in a setting reminiscent of an outdoor camping trip.
“I like to look at these neuroscience studies on how nature influences people,” co-founder Niki Choo told Hoodline. “Social interaction has a big influence on how people view their utility and happiness."
The price for OutCamp is listed at $11 per day per person ($33 for an all-month pass), and anyone who’s worked in a cafe knows that you can easily rack up more than just that in coffee refills alone. So it does seem to make economic sense until you realize that your $11 day rate does not allow you inside the campers. The $11 package only gives you access to the picnic tables and chairs, though you still get the WiFi, coffee, tea, and snacks provided. Hoodline notes that “heaters and fans are available, with outdoor heat lamps on their way” and that beer is coming soon, which would surely increase the value of your $11 daily investment.
For those who would prefer to work indoors with their not-company-provided laptop, the vintage trailers named Sandy, Betsy, and George are intended for larger groups and run at rates of $25-$35 an hour.
If you’re a freelancer sick of being relegated to chaotic cafes to do your work, Campsyte’s facilities may be a cost-effective and creative solution. If you’re a tech bubble critic who sees this as an infantile solution in search of a problem, you will throw up in your mouth a little bit that Campsyte is working on a follow-up coworking space called DroneCamp that caters the industries of “drones, VR/AR, and autonomous tech” and other fields that are a decade away from producing any viably profitable products.