When I first started working on my startup, I set up a desk in my bedroom at home. This was cheaper than coffee shops and way cheaper than office space, and I figured that cost was the most important factor.

I knew something was wrong I started sleeping badly. I’m usually blessed with an easy and restful sleep, but suddenly I couldn’t fall asleep and woke up feeling awful. I guessed this might be something about not having a separate space for work, so I tried coffee shops.

If you’ve ever tried to work at a coffee shop you know that it’s really awful. Interruptions every minute, with loud noises, music you can’t control, and the expectation to keep buying food. Add to that a tiny laptop screen and a different seat every day and it’s a recipe for disaster. I don’t know how anyone can do it.

Finally, I bit the bullet and spent the money for a private office at a Wework. My productivity went through the roof, and I started sleeping again. It’s truly amazing. I estimate I get 3 times as much work done, and still have more energy in the evenings and weekends for studying Chinese and machine learning. Previously I was too exhausted to do these kinds of intellectually-intense activities outside of work. 

The key qualities for a workspace are:

  • Zero interruptions

  • Same space every day

  • Separated from home and other non-work spaces

  • A comfortable environment (temperature, noise, smell, lighting, furniture, bathrooms, etc…)

As my company grows, I’d love to offer everyone her own private space. That might be against the wisdom of open-desk layouts, but it seems critical for productivity.