At first, Pat Pohler enjoyed running his software consulting business from home.
After about a year, well -- "It got pretty lonely," he said.
"When you start bouncing ideas off the dog, it's time to find other people."
Pohler found those people about four years ago at the Salt Mines, Clintonville's homegrown co-working space.
"It fit my expectations perfectly," he said.
Co-working spaces offer the amenities of an office environment for freelance workers, telecommuters and others whose workplaces don't provide local offices.
Members of the Salt Mines, said owner Aaron Whittaker, include people who work in publishing, marketing, various consulting fields, real estate, health care and financial services.
An April 2016 article in the Frontiers in Psychology journal noted nearly 8,000 such facilities operating around the world.
"Most of these independent professionals worked from home prior to renting a place of work in a co-working space, where they may have suffered from feeling of isolation, among other problems," the article states.
The Salt Mines, with locations at 2997 Indianola Ave. and 3820 N. High St., was founded in 2012 by Andy Soell, who was with a Washington, D.C.-based, nonprofit organization at the time. The original site was on Arcadia Avenue and shared space with a sewing cooperative.
Soell told ThisWeek Booster in November 2012 that he initially wanted to join one of the few co-working options in Columbus, but found the cost too high -- so he launched his own.
Soell eventually moved to Europe for what was supposed to be a short-term sabbatical, but when it was extended, he sold the operation to Whittaker in July.
"I really had an interest in having a home base for my consulting practice," Whittaker said.
Joe Shaw, a software engineer who works for a company based in San Francisco, joined the Salt Mines about four years ago.
"I need a routine," he said. "I find a commute -- although I hate commuting -- is a good transition. It's motivating to get out of the house, get showered and dressed."
"The great thing about our technology-based economy and our paperless workplaces is you can work from anywhere," Whittaker said.
Unfortunately, he said, while people are working independently, they can easily lose touch with other people, having little contact with the world around them.
"It's the community," Whittaker said.
"We'll all go out and grab a food-truck lunch together. That camaraderie is missing when you're by yourself at home."
Renting a full-time desk at the Salt Mines costs $250 a month, Whittaker said. A part-time membership is $120; other arrangements can be made as well.
"We really work with members to try to find a subscription that meets their needs," Whittaker said.
Members can visit either of the two locations.
Memberships include the workspace, electricity, wireless internet and "all the coffee you can drink," according to the company's website.
"It's connection-based," Whittaker said. "We don't have a paid staffer. We really lean on each other. We treat it as community space."
Joe Shaw didn't know what to expect when he joined the Salt Mines.
"I've been pleasantly surprised to find other programmers here," he said.
"I get the benefit of co-workers," Pohler said.