Corner Bookstores and Corner Offices
A call to dream about office life
I have an entirely romanticized view of New York City. Think You’ve got Mail or Seinfeld or Home Alone 2 or The Thomas Crown Affair.
Sunny autumn days, world’s best coffee shops/museums/hotels, corner bookstores, and big fancy corner offices.
While my version of NYC sounds like I’ve watched too many airplane movies, you might be surprised to find out that I actually grew up in Manhattan and still work in the city every day (pandemic status pending). And yes, this is still how I think about the Big Apple.
These views have been fortified over years by my real life experiences in New York. The shiny office buildings, the crowded restaurants, the celebrity run-ins, and perfect crisp Central Park days.
It is because of this rosy view of New York City that I have a really hard time digesting the fact that people are starting their careers working from home, and that others are making them feel like that it’s not a big deal.
So dear recent grad or career changer or city mover, I am here to tell you that working in an office, in an amazing city, is awesome and that it is something you should look forward to doing soon. I am here to tell you that starting your career working from home stinks, and that you shouldn’t listen to what others are saying.
Twitter, LinkedIn and the like are filled with talking heads romanticizing the work from home experience. They talk about time saved from not commuting, better eating or exercise schedules, or even ‘being more productive’.
Those pundits have missed so much.
When you work from an office in a big city you experience that city, you become part of that city.
You make real friends, friends that stick with you for your entire career.
You try new foods, and pick up new fashion cues.
You feel nervous when an executive walks by your desk…and you work up the courage to say good morning or ask a question.
You experience the serendipity (another great NYC movie) that only a fast moving and chaotic city could provide.
You meander home, passing a new shop or theater or restaurant.
You become you.
When recent grads work from home nothing new happens. Work becomes an endless list of things to do, not a place to be, learn and grow. Imagine being 22 years old and starting a new job from your couch or parents basement. You go from email to email, not even getting the chance to become too cynical to no longer attend a good-bye drinks.
I know there are reasons to be working from home now, but what I don’t get is why so many have forgotten the best parts of not working from home. I am afraid that if we keep convincing ourselves that its not so bad to work a part then we won’t be able to recreate the best parts of working together.
When everything first closed the collective feeling was ‘well, it will only be a few more weeks’. Now, as return to office dates keep getting continuously pushed, the sentiment has become ‘thankfully they’ve pushed it again.’
Let’s return to the cautious optimism. We deserve it and so does the new kid who is sick of the restaurant options in Murray Hill.