Our Offices: Then and Now
By Karen and Erica
We both always had offices, though Karen’s was the traditional huge with large windows and Erica began with a sofa and coffee table but ended up in a windowless space with standard-issue partner furniture so as to make way for those Millennials who must be Vitamin D deprived. Whatever the size or accoutrement, our offices were our home away from home, a place where we put on our game face to conquer the world, a badge of our success. And then we retired, and poof! They were gone.
Initially, it didn’t seem to matter much. We met in restaurants, at museums, in bars—always with pen and paper in hand to take notes of what we were thinking and what we wanted to do tomorrow or the next day. We spent time walking, and marveled at how many people were actually out and about during the daylight hours. We relished the back pages of the newspaper in the morning, and didn’t feel compelled to check our devices or hit the streets before 8 am.
But, slowly, it began to creep up on us. We missed our offices and having a specific place to go to work, to concentrate and get things accomplished. We missed being around and part of a community of people who were working. We wanted someplace where we could meet in a more business-like setting than a restaurant or a bar. Bottom line, not only did we want to go someplace to work free from distractions, we also wanted to be able to say “We have an office.”
We quickly dismissed the idea of renting some fancy space in someone else’s office. We would be isolated. No community in that. Then we discovered co-working space. Never heard of it before, but it is a grand new idea. After doing some research and looking around, we chose WeWork. Office space, often in older buildings, that has been reconfigured to include private offices as well as common work space. Leases are month to month. Private offices all have glass walls and come in various sizes—ranging from one person to 20 and even more.
At first we took an office way downtown at 85 Broad (thinking it was ironic to end up at the old Goldman offices where the female executive group 85 Broads was founded). We had an internal office with four glass walls--one cell in a big pulsating organism. We had an office now, but the vibe of that location was a bit too casual for us. We found it hard to concentrate when our highly visible (and audible) neighbors celebrated their obvious and many accomplishments with mid-afternoon (very expensive) champagne, sometimes more than once in a given week.
We have now moved to a midtown location on 42d Street, which suits us far better. Our co-workers seem a bit more serious, quiet and maybe even a bit older than our downtown colleagues. Our office now is a 7’ X 12’ glass box, but with three glass walls and one large window. We have decorated it with a rug and pillows, a 1978 NYT ad for Cosmo magazine featuring Christina Ferrara with her shirt half open, talking about how she loves being a lawyer (from Erica’s first office), and a plastic pink shoe tape dispenser (Karen's daughter's offering). We are amused by the looks on our colleagues' faces when they pass our office, or when we enter the common area, often dressed in the outfits we used to wear to work. They wonder. Who are these people???
We go to our office often, both together and by ourselves. We get a ton of work done there. We use conference rooms, to meet others or just to spread our stuff out. It’s really a good time, fun and stimulating. We love our office. We are as proud of it as we were of our old ones. And we think one day we will need a much a bigger one!