Breather: When Your Home Office Just Won’t Do

Of all the reasons people decide to freelance, the possibility of working from a home office may be close to the top. No more commuting plus the freedom to organize your work time and space according to your own needs and tastes. A home office, however, may not be suitable for all your business activities. If you live in Montreal, Ottawa, San Francisco, New York City or Boston, you’re in luck. Breather might have the space you need when your home office just won’t do.
Most of the time, I love my home office. Tucked into a cozy niche at the end of a long hallway, I only need to spin around in my ergonomic chair to take in the view. Beyond my spacious balcony, three stories below, the ever- changing Rivière-des-Prairies flows. In summer, I can see storms advancing from the north. In winter, before the ice forms, the sluggish, near-still water reflects and multiplies the colours of holiday lights strung on the condos across the river. Bliss.
The problem? My little home office, for all its charm, is really, well, little and cannot accommodate more than me. Up until now, that’s been fine. I am currently developing workshops for groups of four to eight people, however, and there’s no way I will be able to cram all the participants into my office. Seating them at the dining room table wouldn’t really inspire confidence.
Also, while I love it, my office might not strike clients as particularly professional. Typically, if a meet-and-greet meal is the goal, I reserve a table at Le café Petit Flore. If getting some work done or negotiating a delicate contract is on the menu, however, the bistro doesn’t fit the bill.
Booking space at a cooperative work space might be an option, but I don’t want to pay a monthly fee for the privilege. Renting a conference room at a hotel downtown doesn’t really fit my budget or my schedule for that matter.
Enter Breather.
Breather is the brainchild of Julien Smith, a local Montreal wunderkind who twigged to the power of social media early on. He harnessed that power and then went on to write two books—Trust Agents and The Impact Equation—with social media powerhouse Chris Brogan. He wrote a third, The Flinch, solo. All three are New York Times bestsellers.
Julien’s work as a globetrotting entrepreneur, writer and speaker led him to a discovery. Like him, a lot of people conduct work on the fly, in cafés and restaurants. And like me and countless others, he knew that working in a corner of a noisy coffeshop is not optimal for every situation. The traditional option, renting a conference room in a hotel, was expensive and not exactly warm and fuzzy.
That realization lead to a critical “what if”. What if folks could rent office space by the hour in comfortable spaces specifically designed for getting work done? He then imagined all those conference rooms in all those business offices that, most of the time, were empty. Win. Win.
And so it was that Breather was born.
For a modest hourly fee, if you live or happen to be in Montreal, Ottawa, San Francisco, New York City or Boston, you can rent comfortable, furnished office space with all the business amenities you need. Simple.
For example, in Montreal, there are nine spaces available. They are located in neighbourhoods where business folks tend to congregate: the plateau, Mile End, and the central and the west side of downtown. Each can accommodate from four to 10 people. The price: $15/hour.

 Ahhhhh! That’s more like it.
Still need convincing? You can find pictures and more details on Breather’s website. As an added bonus, I found this fab clip of Mark Schaefer interviewing Julien a couple of years ago just before Breather rolled out. They had a chance to chat when Mark was visiting Montreal to participate in an event I helped organize.
I know. You’re wondering if I’m getting paid to write this post? Short answer: no. Long answer: I just love when someone comes up with a simple, smart idea to solve a nagging and, essentially, stupid problem.
Aha! Now you’re thinking that I’m angling for a freebie. Not at all. Truth? I haven’t yet given Breather a test drive. When I do, I’ll share that experience with you.
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Note: this post has been spruced up since it was originally posted on March 31, 2015.
Photo credits: the top photo is mine, taken from my balcony. The second photo was kindly supplied by Audrey Meubus at Breather.