One of my favourite things about Halifax is all these cool buildings. Take a walk down Agricola Street and you find these really interesting buildings that have been repurposed to house something well outside of their original scope. Really, it’s one of my favourite things in general when I find cities make interesting use of existing buildings. Theres’s an amazing little restaurant in Ottawa called Art-Is-In Bakery that’s located in a warehouse in an industrial park. So when a building that I’ve always loved came up for lease there was a split second where my partner and I thought, “that would be a cool office.” And then my next thought came to me. “Shut up.”
We are a small digital agency, a party of three. We work independently from our own spots and it works really well. Given that each of us have our own responsibilities such as school, kids and other jobs, this works perfectly for us. But more importantly, it’s not the idea of an office that I shot down. It was the idea of a “cool office.”
I once spent several hours designing my dream office. I figured out what the layout of my office would be. I figured out the layout of our meeting rooms. I planned what sort of desk I would have. Now this was a long, long time ago. I was just a kid. But I always thought about how cool it would be to have a cool office. I feel like a lot of companies haven’t grown out of this.
My office consists of a laptop, a phone, a notebook and a pair of headphones and it exists wherever I want it to. I don’t need beautiful views and many leather-bound volumes and rich mahogany. I need my tools. Sure there are some things that I think would be really neat to have. And yes, I am working on my dream office in my shed. But it’s not an “office.” It’s a “workspace”.
Over the years I’ve come to realize that having an office is really not that important. I need somewhere where I can be productive. I don’t care if that’s my couch, or the desk in our home office, or a coffee shop, or a library. It really doesn’t matter.
“But how do you woo clients and show them how important you are without a fancy office?”
Honestly, I often don’t even meet clients in person. Most of my clients have 1.5 kids, a day job, and a side hustle. They have about as much time to meet with me as I have to meet them. Sometimes we do meet, but it’s usually in a coffee shop. I could rent a nice office. But I’d have to charge them.
When a company is renting out some cool, ultra expensive workspace with a train and slides and a jungle gym and a giant video game wall, they have to bill those expenses to someone. And so that cost gets passed along to the client. I don’t want to do that.
This is not a post demonizing offices. Or even cool offices. I’ve worked in cool offices. They’re cool. No. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about things you don’t need. We don’t NEED a cool office RIGHT NOW. If we can’t entertain the three of us as is, we’ve got a problem. We don’t NEED a huge office RIGHT NOW. I can sit in a closet on a laptop and accomplish everything I need to.
But do I secretly want to lease the old Video Difference building and turn it into the coolest agency office you’ve ever seen in your whole dang life?
You bet your ass.