For any organisation your premises define something about your identity. Two decades ago, Omnicor was finding its feet from the lounge of our founders (James and Cathy). Fortunately, as it grew it required premises and moved to a double story house masquerading as an office. Lots of wide passages, a useful kitchen, a big lounge and desk space shoehorned into previous bedrooms and other spaces. Not quite corporate but a positive message of “we’re serious, we’re growing”. The next milestone, some years later, was an office park. Two stories of office space. A stronger statement of arrival, rubbing shoulders with other business, lots of parking, better bathrooms, upgraded furniture.
And then, covid.
We had always been modern about people working from home at times. It was encouraged in the old-school kind of way. A privilege judiciously doled out, common but not over-used. Overnight this changed. Suddenly we were all working from makeshift household tables and dining room chairs. Amazingly it worked. And as we settled into it, we addressed some of the inequalities. Making sure everyone had the right equipment and a space to work. We provided office chairs, inverters, fibre or wifi and built protocols around working remotely. Organically, formally and informally we carved out a way of working. The world had changed.
Then, post covid.
The office was available, but hardly anyone was using it. Our staff had the option of working remotely or being on site. We had also in the meantime employed staff from other provinces, and continuing to work offsite became entrenched. We negotiated to cut our rented premises in half, but even then, the offices experienced only a trickle of traffic. We continued like this for 3 years – an underutilized office but a well-oiled set of business logistics that continued to thrive, mostly offsite. We took the decision not to renew offices when our lease expired. But we also knew we needed a central point of something, a node that was somewhere to congregate when we needed to, but without the burden of a wasted space and high monthly rentals.
Next week, we move into WeWork.
A new milestone looms. We opted for flexible office space at WeWork. The last few weeks have been packing up, selling and giving away the years of accumulated office debris. The decluttering is therapeutic as we look to a more minimalist future. From our early explorations and walk-abouts, we love the vibe and aesthetic at WeWork. We have a permanent single office there that houses 6 people, but there are lots of options for more people coming on a given day. Plus, it gives our staff in other cities that have WeWork addresses an option. The identity tells a new story as we transition into a new more virtual phase. We don’t care where you work from, but we have a great place for you when you need it. It feels like we are part of a changed journey that the world is on. We know it doesn’t work for everyone. For now, we relish the shift of our new identity, and we look forward to experimenting with shared office space, baristas in the lobby and the buzz of fellow nomads. We’ll keep you posted on how it works out.
Author: Hilton Rudnick