The freelance lifestyle is often romanticized with images of lazy afternoons spent typing away in a quaint coffeeshop, free from the constraints of an office (and a boss!). But in reality, being a freelancer with no office can be difficult. Most clients communicate exclusively through email or by phone, but some still want to meet in person to discuss project details. For those working from home, seating a client on the living room couch next to your cat doesn’t make quite the right impression. For professionals on the road, having no office means camping out in hotel lobbies after checkout and mooching coffeeshop WiFi until the next flight departure.
Currently operating in NYC, Montreal, Ottawa, and San Francisco, Breather offers beautiful, practical spaces that can be reserved through the Breather mobile app. Rental costs vary by city and time of day, with prices ranging from $15 to $40 per hour (a significant savings over maintaining an office or co-working space). In a busy city like New York, finding an open seat at Starbucks can be as difficult as hailing a cab. Peace and quiet is almost impossible to come by, let alone privacy, and overstimulation inevitably takes a toll on productivity. Breather’s unique platform offers a “deep sigh of relief” in expensive districts for those in need of a pit stop.
Founded by Julien Smith, the idea of “Zipcar for rooms” came about when Smith was traveling as a freelance journalist. He often found himself struggling to work in coffeeshops with unreliable Wifi, purchasing an excessive number of baked goods to justify his presence. As Smith says, it is the plight of the traveling worker to be “over-caffeinated and overeaten, or under-caffeinated and undereaten, with surprisingly similar results.” Productivity on the road is essential for traveling workers on deadlines. Smith realized with the growing gig economy, more and more people would experience the same issue of needing space in small doses. With the exponential rise of sharing apps and services, he knew there was a need to fill.
Each Breather room is accessed by entering a unique PIN that is sent to your smartphone, which will open the electronic locking system. Breather has partnered with Lockitron to enable a quick and effective means for accessing space without needing a physical key. The unique code also ensures that previous Breather users won’t be able to re-access after the rental period is over, enhancing safety for everyone. Breather’s cleaning service tidies the rooms after each use, ensuring a professional presentation regardless of rental length or time of day. All Breather spaces include pencils, pens, notepads, candy and WiFi. Some spaces have premium features like dry erase walls, which vary by location.
Breather’s aesthetic is maintained by co-founder Caterina Rizzi, who keeps it simple and utilitarian: white walls, plentiful lighting, wood floors, muted colors. Every space has a great window with natural lighting, and access to a restroom.
Even for those with access to office space, a private retreat in the midst of a bustling city makes a huge difference. “If you’re walking around, and you need a break, you reserve and go,” Smith says. “Or you have to make a phone call — you literally press three buttons. It costs a reasonable sum of money, you arrive at the door, you enter a code. It’s so basic to talk about, but you close the door, and it’s your space. It’s such a paradigm shift. The whole experience of how you go about your day is changed.”
If you don’t live in one of the four cities where Breather is currently operating, you can submit a request for your city here.