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The workplace next door
A conversation about keeping remote work in the neighborhood with Christelle
Christelle believes that neighborhoods have the power to knit remote workers together.
And she’s probably right. As we’ve redefined how we work over the last year or so, we’ve also taken a good long look at where we work.
Once we realized that work was no longer anchored by a location, our days were no longer bookended by running to catch a train or sitting in traffic. We enjoyed a new flexibility we’d never had, and we got time back to do more of what we wanted to do.
But just because we could work from anywhere, it didn’t mean that the somewhere where work took place had to be in our homes.
Because working from home isn’t remotely the same as remote working. We worked hunched over dining tables and perched on uncomfortable chairs. We missed the real, human social connections that made us more creative and gave our work meaning.
And we realized that if working from anywhere is going to work for everyone, we need to think bigger than WFH. That’s exactly why Christelle founded Codi.
Here’s her Remote Works story.
“Working remotely means your neighbors become your new coworkers. That fuels us as humans.”
Christelle Rohaut, CEO and co-founder of Codi, San Francisco
The first time Christelle ever worked out of someone else’s home, she was studying for her Masters. She was living and working out of her apartment in California, and kept finding herself distractedly pacing the few steps between her table and her fridge.
Seeking focus, she headed for the soft lighting, smooth jazz and plush seating of her local coffee shop, only to find scores of other remote workers warring over good seats and power outlets. Then, she tried a coworking space, but she found that it was just the office in miniature — rows and rows of copy and pasted desks and well-lit booths, bookended by a stressful commute. She hated it.
“I thought that there had to be a better way. So I called a friend, and I worked at her home instead. And then I realized we are just surrounded by houses or apartments that are just sitting empty all day long while people are at work. And these spaces could be great places to work.
That’s when she had the idea for Codi.
“I always say that the Codi story started as a network of neighbors working from each other’s homes. In every single community in every single neighborhood, there’s a bunch of remote workers, and they naturally form that community. We’re just helping them connect.”
“Working from home doesn’t work for everyone. If you assume that everyone has the right space to work, you can’t create an equitable workplace.”
Christelle heads to a hub in her own neighborhood a few times a week. It’s as much a mental commute as it is a mindset shift to make sure she’s doing everything she needs to thrive at work. That includes looking after her mental health, and understanding how it is impacted by her working environment.
“Lots of companies made the assumption that remote work is working from home,” she says. “But working from home doesn’t work for everyone — and if you just assume that everyone has the right space to work, you can’t create an equitable workplace.
“I thrive better when my home life and work life are separate — it’s a matter of mental health. Getting out of your home space, getting in that little walk or bike, being in a different environment even if it’s a different residential space — it all makes a difference. It makes you feel healthier and more focused.”
It also makes her more creative — because when she goes to her local Codi hub, she gets to spend more time working alongside people from her company that she wouldn’t usually work with.
“I have my digital coworkers and my in-person coworkers,” she says. “I tend to work more with the team in New York City, but I actually see more of my coworkers who are based in San Francisco. They’re typically engineers and designers.
“And I think that actually steers innovation, because you get to talk with someone in a different department or team — and that helps us be more open-minded and step out of our bubbles.”
“By working in my neighborhood, I’m helping it thrive.”
Christelle’s walk home winds through her local neighborhood. On the way, she listens to podcasts (her favorites, she says, are Redefining HR and How I Built This).
“I studied city planning, so I’m very attached to my neighborhood,” she says. “If I’m commuting somewhere to work, I’m spending that money outside of my community — I’m giving it to a big corporation downtown. But when my workspace is within walking distance, I know that the money stays in my community. If I’m living, working and buying lunch there, I’m helping it thrive. That makes me so happy — I’d never get this lifestyle if I worked in a big downtown office.
“We’re changing how we work — we’re shifting the notion around where we work, and who we work with each day. Your neighbors become your new coworkers, you get to share new ideas and talk to people in different fields. I think it fuels us as humans.”