Some of you may have noticed that our address has changed. If you’ve visited our rather spectacular office in the past, that may come as a surprise. We wanted to share the story of how we came to move, because it touches on issues that you (and the rest of the working world) are probably wrestling with.
Like many others, this story begins with the seismic impact of COVID-19. When we left our office on March 13, 2020, we believed everything would return to normal soon. We didn’t recognize that normal died that day. More than two years later, one could argue the break from routine has made as much impact as the virus. For many, it has hammered home that life is too short and commutes too long. That a lot of meetings run too long, and even some careers.
As our firm has settled into the pandemic’s new normal, we’ve spent a lot of time trying to envision what a return to the office ought to look like for knowledge workers. So has everyone else. The funny thing is how smart companies ranging from Meta to Goldman Sachs are arriving at entirely different answers. And then in many cases changing their minds. Clearly that future is still taking form.
In the meantime, we’ve started to build our future based on some changes we think are here to stay. It’s a big question and a hard one, so we involved our entire team in helping us think about it. Here are three stakes we’ve tapped in the ground pretty firmly:
Deconstructing the office.
Time was, you began with a floor plan and figured out how to get everything done inside it. Now we’re thinking about the jobs to be done and where best to do them. For individual work: home. Group work and workshops: an inspirational co-working space. Social bonding: a restaurant or recreational space. And for stuff: a good old fashioned storage facility.
In the last few years, digital collaboration tools have made an exponential leap. They now enable many hands to work on the same canvas with full knowledge of what others are doing. We use them to keep developing knowledge visible and persistent, and democratize participation. We were collaborative before, but this is off the charts. We’re continuing to audition tools that can take us further.
A larger community.
Quarantine helped us realize the fundamental oddness of working in the hermetic colony known as an office. We crave a workplace that feels like a coffee shop or a particularly good conference: a buzzy gathering of diverse people engaged in many different interesting things. We first tried to build our own community (and may yet again). But in the meantime we’ve found a co-working community that fulfills this need.
Today our address is a 135-year-old railway roundhouse beautifully redeveloped by the architecture firm GBBN into a regional innovation center. It’s where we gather for all-hands meetings, in-person workshops, and anytime we get tired of seeing our own faces reflected in a screen. We’re taking this time to explore new tools, connect with the creative community here, watch the pandemic reverberate, and envision what the next chapter of office work might look like.