I came to work today and I was annoyed because my usual spot next to my architect friend was taken by this guy from a tech start-up. I’ll forgive him since he’s so new to the space and hasn’t learned that is my spot just yet… He’s also really talkative and flirtatious which is kind of annoying so I’m relieved to sit somewhere else. So I take a spot next to two girls in their mid-twenties who started a marketing agency this year. They have sparkly smiles and one of them has a spiralling tattoo on her hand and wrist that reminds me of henna painting from my trip to India this year. One of them is chasing some debtors on the phone, and I smile to myself because she is so pleasant and friendly as she tells him that the matter must be settled within 48 hours. At the end of my table is a talent scout, he’s talking to an acting hopeful on the phone about an audition he has organised for them to be on Neighbours.
This is just another day in my office.
I love it here. I love it that there are coloured pencils on all the tables, and that no one cares that my to do list, it looks like this:
Just like my mind - scrawled and messy but detailed and planned all at the same time. Not to mention the crystal that sits on top of it, my favourite citrine. I love that new people come to join us here in their suit and ties and over a matter of days they lose the tie, then the business shirt and start coming to work in clothes that match their personality instead.
For fifteen years I withered in grey offices.
In my mind corporate offices are like factories. We are schooled with a start time, a finish time, a lunch time. We wear a uniform of corporate attire, clothes that we would never wear on a weekend because it’s not comfortable and it doesn’t suit our personality. Even a group of PWC consultants working here on a project took off their uniform and started dressing like people while working here, it’s funny when their project leadership come to visit for meetings - the contrast between their personal energy and style is stark.
I am brain dead in the mid afternoon, but in the corporate factories I had to drag my feet through the mud to be productive through times of the day that I’d rather have down time. Instead I’d rather power through from morning to mid-afternoon, take a break and then power through again between about 4-7pm. How come corporate environments can’t cater for that, and for what works for others to be their most productive?
I work here doing my writing and research one day a week and management consulting with my little boutique firm the other 4 days a week. Recently we hired another two consultants, I love to watch them turning up like they have been factory farmed in their corporate schooling and then in a matter of weeks they flourish into creative and energetic beings. Beautiful things happen when we give team members the space to be themselves and bring their strengths.
I’m seeing this shift more and more. If you google ‘co-working office space’ and you’ll find all sorts of groovy places like this one where people can go and collaborate. Here we have marketing specialists, wine distributors, architects, web developers and management consultants like me, and they all support each other in development of their own business and as a collective we grow. Some corporates are also on board, places like google and big consulting firms are offering open office spaces with lots of room for collaboration and freedom of movement.
Working with millennials who are now coming out of university I notice that this is what they want and expect. New graduates don’t care anymore about the corner office but rather creativity, individuality and collaborative. I read an article by a recruitment specialist once that the future for peoples’ careers is to have a skill and your own business and for companies to hire them for specific projects rather than having an army of workers at desks. It’s a big shift from where we are now but it sounds so appealing to me. I hope for a day when everyone gets to work in a place that looks like ours: