Michael Lucerto recently opened a co-working space, Inc.Ubate, in Winthrop, MA. He works for the publishing company Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) and is also a consultant for the Fund for Education Abroad. Recently, he was elected to the Winthrop Town Council as councilor-at-large. He has a home office but spends much of his time at the co-working space. Since finishing a master's degree in Europe, he has been working remotely in study abroad, technology, and publishing. Although he has spent time in a regular office, he prefers the flexibility of remote work.
What was remote work like when you started?
I started out 12 years ago and I was known as a study abroad road warrior. I drove from campus to campus for meetings and recruiting students. Those were the days of the Blackberry. I was driving a blue, beat up, Chevy Cavalier that I called Blueberry and used to joke that all I needed was my Blackberry and my Blueberry to get the job done. We didn't have as much connectivity. It was the early days of GPS. You had to think ahead more and scramble to find Internet connections.
What do you like about being location independent?
Some people are just not built for an office environment and I am one of them. I find I am more productive in one hour when I'm by myself than in 8 hours with other people around. Working remotely has also made it possible for me to balance a lot of roles. I'm a salesman, a consultant, I manage the co-working space, and I'm on the Winthrop Town Council. I need flexibility so I can do the work I need to when I need to.
What is the hardest part about working remotely?
It's shutting down. There is always something to be done so it can be hard to walk away and leave it for the next day. I also found that when I was on the road, I became limited in where I wanted to go when I wasn't working. I'd have status on multiple airlines from all my work travel but when I was home all I'd want to do is stay within a mile or two of home.
How do you manage when you have so many different roles? What's a typical day like for you?
I can't say it's easy, but each role adds a special dynamic into my life, and often the skills used in one area translate well into the next. As they say, there is always a plan and then life gets in the way. A good day is when you crossed more things off the to-do-list then you added. Bundling like activities and setting aside time in the day for each role is the only way to make it work. Otherwise, I become overwhelmed and feel like I didn't accomplish anything during the day. I try to remind myself constantly that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Make time to celebrate the victories and learn from the mistakes.
Why did you open a co-working space?
I liked the idea of bringing people together and creating this environment where people could be productive and make connections. While I can be more productive when I'm on my own, I also like the interaction. And, there was this big space that wasn't being used. There were people who would come and look at it and say they just wanted a small office. This way they can have a small office and more.
What surprised you about the space?
I didn't expect it to be so easy to make and facilitate genuine connections between members. I thought it would require more of a marketing effort to get the word out. But I think the timing was right. More people are working remotely and they want a community without having to deal with the commute.
What's your advice for someone thinking about co-working?
It's not a one-size fits all option. You need to determine if it's right for you and then you have to find the right place. Does it offer different working environments? Will you be able to find a quiet space when you need it? Are there enough opportunities for interactions? It's simply not just about the space, it's about the working community you want to join.
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