On a cold day in midtown Manhattan, I lounged on a couch in an airy, sunlit room. My team – the amazing women who organize the annual Women in Travel Summit (WITS) – chatted happily over sandwiches and coffee around a table with geometric chairs. We had just finished up a full morning of planning and were now taking a short break for lunch.
I watched my teammates quietly with a swelling pride as they laughed and told each other stories. Though we had been working together for a year (and some of us many more), the crazy thing was that, up until this weekend, not all of us had met in person.
We were taking some special time to finalize our WITS details well in advance of the conference, and those of us not already NYC-based flew in from our corners of the world (Boulder, Boston, and Toronto, more specifically) to do it face-to-face in a relaxed atmosphere.
As crazy as it sounds to have this virtual team, the truth is that it’s happening more and more. We as a society are constantly collaborating and interacting over the Internet, rather than on the phone or in person. We are doing business with people we may never meet. And as travelers, this happens even more so, as we are constantly on the road.
Yet as we evolve in the Internet Age, there’s one thing that becomes even more precious: physical space. When you need it, where do you find it?
That was exactly our problem when we first decided to head to New York for our team meeting. We needed a space that was quiet and personal, had good WiFi, wasn’t going to be mad if we didn’t buy coffee every two hours, and allowed us to stretch out and be ourselves.
A hotel lobby was too loud; a coffee shop too busy. A library, too quiet. So what was just right?
Shortly before our visit, I connected with the team at Breather. They were kind enough to offer our team some free workspace to try out during our New York weekend (see our disclosure statement here).
If you’ve never heard of it, Breather is a network of workspaces around the world that you can use for meetings, group activities, a quiet space to get work done, and more. The process for picking out a Breather space is easy: just go to their website, select a city, share your space needs (day, time, number of people you need the space for, general location), and search for results. What you get is a beautiful series of spaces that fit your criteria. You can then order the space and pre-pay for the hours that you’ll need it.
Reserving our Breather space was so simple that it made me wonder how the experience would be actually using it.
Here are some tips to make your experience as seamless as possible:
Download the app.
Breather has a fantastic iOS and Android app that you can use to track your reservation.
In order to get into the room, you’ll need to secure the access key, which you can do through the app. You won’t be able to get the access key before your reservation time starts, so keep that in mind – no early birds. Once you have the key, it’s as easy as punching the passcode into the dial pad on the door and letting yourself in.
You’ll also be able to use the app to contact the Breather team if you need anything during your rental.
Find the space that’s right for you.
Each Breather space is different. For instance, we tried two in two different sections of Midtown. The décor of each was, of course, gorgeous – minimalist, with brassy chairs, polished wood floors, even travel books on a bookshelf (our kind of workspace!).
Keep in mind that you can also choose spaces that have different features, like hi-speed WiFi, a TV, a whiteboard, and other practical items. Make sure you pick a space that will meet your meeting needs.
— WomenInTravel Summit (@WITSummit) March 5, 2017
Bring what you need.
As each space exists in a much larger office building, keep in mind that each building might have different features in terms of access to water, scrap paper, etc. If you know you’re going to need something, make sure you come equipped with what you need before you arrive.
Ultimately, our Breather stay was comfortable, private, and affordable.
It was a great way to get some private time with a team that is usually based everywhere, and I could see it also serving well for important meetings (when you freelance or work from home), networking events, and even just quiet workspace (with some of the spaces running for as little as $40/hour, you could easily get a few friends to chip in and use it as a small coworking space on days you’re not interested in another coffee shop).
Plus, you get the benefit of a one-stop shop in finding a comfortable space in places around the world – something that holds more value than you realize when you’re constantly in a new city or on the go.