PodShare: Pod-Based Co-Working and Co-Living Community Flourishing in LA

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CC BY 2.0. Nicolás Boullosa (faircompanies) via Flickr

In recent years, there's been a lot of talk about how office work as we once knew it is changing. Contract and freelance work is on the rise, prompting the mushrooming growth of innovative co-working spaces worldwide, leading to new phenomena like digital nomads who travel and work around the world; now, there are places where you can co-work and co-live as well. That's the idea behind PodShare, a "co-living space" in Los Angeles that rents out personal sleeping pods to "mobile workers", but allows them to share communal living and working spaces.

Founded in 2012 by Elvina Beck, PodShare was ostensibly begun as a way to meet new people. As Beck tells Motherboard: "I started it to cure my own loneliness, so I never had a night without friends." Beck lives in a pod herself, and runs the business side of things right in the PodShare building. Hear her explain the project in this video for Tiny House Blog:

Located in Hollywood and downtown LA, the two PodShare spaces are an updated version of a hostel, offering 10 to 30 Murphy beds, which flip up and transform into desks during the day. WiFi is offered on-premises, and each of the sleeping pods has a lamp and a small flatscreen television, while the communal areas feature a shared kitchen, a big projection screen, video game consoles, napping station, computers with professional software and a recording studio -- all for USD $35 to $50 a night. So far, it's been immensely popular with travelling entrepreneurs from all over the world, temporary workers and people looking for a temporary home while apartment-hunting in LA. Since its inception, around 4,000 people have passed through, and for good reason, says Beck:

PodShare makes life more affordable because there is no security deposit or cost of furnishings and we provide a flexible living. Pod life is the future for singles which are not looking to settle down, but focus on their startups and experience something new.

People who live here are referred to as "podestrians", and for those who wonder about the safety and potential creep factor of living in such a co-ed space with very little privacy, the PodShare community screens each guest twice -- before moving in and after moving out, which is recorded on an online profile. To keep things civil for everyone, there's a "No PodSex" rule, and pods have been built facing each other to discourage any romantic shenanigans. There is an emphasis on community building and entrepreneurial networking, explains Beck:

We’re creating a social network with a physical address. Our open-floor model offers the highest rate of collisions for social travelers. We do not identify with hostels—we are a co-living space or a live-work community.

PodShare has also now opened up a dedicated co-working space (seen below), and a new location in Los Feliz.

While something like this won't attract misanthropic individuals who need their privacy and their own bathroom, the PodShare model will no doubt appeal to those who like the idea of sharing resources, spaces, and experiences, and also allowing nomadic freelancers to trade skills and live on the cheap. With daily, weekly and monthly memberships that give access to all PodShare sites, it brings the same concepts behind co-working into a co-living model.

While some may paint it as some kind of "commune" or perhaps a workhouse for millennials, it's not: it's a new kind of office that's also your home, where work and leisure are more closely entwined, and where global tech innovation might also incubate. Ultimately, places like PodShare are the outgrowth of a "freelance nation" and sharing economy emerging against the backdrop of a still-capitalist system, intersecting with new technology that allows people to live, travel and work from anywhere in the world. More over at Motherboard and PodShare.