When I’m out and about and chatting to people I get two questions: who do you work for?, shortly followed by where is your office?
The eternal obsession with the physical location of businesses has not receded with the digital age. Much like how my six-year-old cousin likes to ask everyone “where do you live?” it seems what you do is not nearly as immediately interesting as where you do it.
The location of a media business becomes very much part of its mythology and identity – News International will forever be associated with Wapping, for example, and the ghosts of newspapers’ heyday still haunt Fleet Street, a hop and skip from our new building. It’s arguable the constellation of digital pioneers in California may not have grown to global brands without a shared culture, community and geography in Silicon Valley.
But for much of the last three years my answer to the office location question has been various versions of “nowhere in particular”. I left Press Gazette at the end of 2008 to join paidContent, which was then as now was in-the-cloud digital publishing startup without an office outside America. In 2010 I went freelance, working again from home, in various offices as a freelance hack or at the Frontline Club.
My current employer Briefing Media has had no long-term specific base for the last 18 months, other than a couple of shared offices and the Like Minds club. Working from home has significant benefits but also drawbacks as The Oatmeal pithily and hilariously summarised.
But now, having expanded into a much bigger company, we have happily got our first HQ at Blackfriars in London, sharing with Pulse and some of Farmers Guardian’s non-Preston based folks. It doesn’t mean I won’t be blogging from home, conferences, the 242 bus, trains, the pub and lots of other places but it feels like a milestone worth marking to have our own place finally – plus the vibrancy and creativity of having people in one place is a very good thing.
If you want to come and see us drop me a line on patrick dot smith at briefingmedia.com.
Update: But there are, of course, downsides to this too!
Just posted about the joys of having a proper office then the fire alarm goes off. Typical!
— Patrick Smith (@psmith) April 18, 2012