Coworking isn’t new to me.
I work from a coworking share space pretty regularly and have done so across Sydney, Berlin, and everywhere in between.
When Bumble (yes, THAT Bumble) launched the “Bumble Hive” coworking space in Los Angeles, right around the same time I happened to be in town, I couldn’t help myself.
I buzzed on over and gave it a good go.
As I quickly found out, there are two things everyone needs in order to access to the ‘hive’.
First and foremost, you need to be over 18. Sorry kids, you’re going to have to wait a few more years, or just launcht that lifechanging app from the comfort of your bedroom.
Secondly, and as a surprise to absolutely no one – you have to download the Bumble app.
If like me, you’re in a relationship, you can log into Bumble Biz, which is the same as regular Bumble but you’re swiping to find mentors or business contacts… not a funtime bed buddy.
This actually sounds kind of awesome until you remember no one really cares about the finder details because everyone’s just glancing at your Bumble icon instead.
I will say this much for the hive… it’s an interior designer’s wet dream.
The devil is in the detail, and this is pretty much one big Insta-worthy backdrop.
Everywhere you turn there’s an opportunity to curate or snap a gram-perfect photo, and if you’re really into posing, you can even use one of their two branded photobooth stations.
Forget going in to work, take the day off and snap a couple hundred pictures of yourself instead! Live the dream!
Take a look around and you’ll quickly notice there are more hexagon shapes (aka the Bumble logo) than the average eye should ever have to look at. They’re embedded into the highly curated design of the space, and they’re absolutely everywhere.
The walls aren’t much better. They’re lined with words and patterns, and covered from floor to ceiling in inspirational scrawls that fail to hit the mark because frankly, we’ve read and seen them all before.
“Be the CEO your parents wanted you to marry”?
Yeah, nah. I’d rather see the poster of that kitten dangling from the rope with the “hang in there” quote.
While the place is heavily decorated and designed, at the end of the day, finding the space to actually work is pretty limited. There’s one long table in the room, which is surrounded by a huge number of teeny tiny (just like a bee) desk stools that won’t just give you back pain, they’ll make you rethink sitting ever again.
If you’re not lucky / unlucky enough to nab a seat, you can try to get comfortable on one of the many sofa-esque type arrangements but again, these aren’t conducive to a long day of laptop work.
But not all is lost!
Living in L.A. can be expensive, and for many of us, the cost of not having an office that’s paid for by someone else can start to add up.
There are only so many coffee shops you can work from before you realise all your money’s going into beverages… and not the delicious alcoholic kind.
Bumble Hive has free snacks, I repeat, it has free snacks.
I’m talkin’ super hipster boxed water (yes boxed not bottled, they’re environmentally conscious), popcorn, pretzels and chocolate dip… the culinary list goes on.
It’s actually really nice to go somewhere that has these kinds of perks because it kind of feels like you’re working from an airport members lounge.
But for every high, there is a low, and quickly the novelty of the free food wears off when you realise the staff kinda, really, hate their lives.
They’re all so sad and angry. And now I’m sad and angry.
It’s pretty obvious none of them want to be there and have a particular antipathy for anyone who walks through the door.
They’re surlier than Oscar the Grouch, and if you do manage to get a “hello” out of any of them, it’s usually met with a fake smile and about 10% effort.
I can still feel their eyes watching me as I walked around the big table searching for a seat. This wasn’t just super awkies, it was majorly creepy. I was almost too scared to eat my beloved, free snacks. The judgement was REAL!
This off-putting dynamic permeates the space, and no matter how fancy it looks, this ickyness trumps it all.
In a coworking share space, the idea is to enjoy your freedom away from a conventional office and work the way you like to work. It’s also about mingling and meeting like minded people, hustling, and connecting.
But this will never happen successfully at the Bumble Hive until they give the place a serious personality transplant.
What sucks the most is if you show up with other friends, you attract even more attention to yourselves and it’s a field day for the staff.
I’m not sure what’s going on, maybe they’re bored? It’s a small space after all, and at any one time there is at least about five people working, which is about three too many.
I tried the space a few times over the course of two weeks, but each time I went, I had the same experience.
All in all, it was a really disappointing outcome from something that heralded so much promise…I would not and could not swipe right for Bumble. And it’s breaking my heart.