Here’s how Hoffice, a Swedish coworking concept, works: Someone working from home invites friends (or random strangers) to come join them. In the morning, a laptop brigade streams inside, and then things start to take a turn for the bizarre. The host sets an alarm clock for 45 minutes, and everyone gets busy. Swedish journalist Angeta Lagercrantz describes what happens next.
45 minutes at a time, we only hear the wall clock — tick-tock, tick-tock — and laptop key sounds. Or how someone suddenly gets up, and whispering disappears with the mobile phone. Then comes the alarm signal. It is time for the ten-minute break with stretching, meditation — or, why not, disco dancing?
They also recommend this “goofy and scientific” exercise video, which is awesome. Before the next session starts, everyone announces their goal: “I’ll prepare a presentation on pilgrimage,” (really), “I’ll design a newsletter.” Then, back to work.
This sounds contrived, embarrassing, and mildly cultish. I totally want to try it.
Americans and Hoffice should go together like peanut butter and jelly (or Jelly). This is the land of both the lonely laptop and the credulous yearner, dying to adopt — and evangelize for — every sort of crazy hokum that promises self-improvement. We have a rich history of complicating our diets and exercise routines with strict regimentation, from the bizarre rituals of Kellogg’s sanitarium to Bikram yoga, Soul Cycle, and bulletproof coffee. We are both optimists and optimizers: We love to believe that our lives could be transformed if we only hit on the right technique.
I’m actually a little upset that this started in Sweden rather than the U.S — it hurts my national pride. There’s no reason why one set of residential boxes should sit empty, while workers commute to another set of office boxes, which then sit empty all night. And this idea that I might just be wildly productive in 45 minute chunks — it’s plausible enough to try.
In fact, excuse me — my 45 minutes are up, and I believe it’s time for some Riverdance.
OK, I’m back, and only mildly injured. But, I do think it was better for all of us that there was no one else here to witness that.