Boom in shared office spaces -- yeah, that'll work

Forgoing my $1.75 "rent" for a toasted bagel to sit at a cafe and write, I accepted an invitation last week to visit the hive at 55, one of the many shared work spaces for freelancers that have popped up during our recession hangover. Fancy digs. Lounge. Conference room. Thirteen-story view of downtown Manhattan. I could get used to this.

With more laid-off and independent workers seeking an alternative to doing business at home, the number of co-working offices has increased by 60% in the past year to more than 200 nationwide, according to Steve King from the trendspotting firm Emergent Research.