The Office Isn't Dead. In Fact, We Need It More Than Ever

We doubled our space right before Covid, and can't wait to return

After a two-month build-out, we doubled our office square footage in the heart of Boulder's 15th Street Design District, wrapping just as the pandemic took hold and shut things down. Do we regret it? Not at all. When it's safe to get back into the office again, we will need the space more than ever. 

We are skeptical that the "the future of the office will never be the same." "Bollocks!" as the English would say. Yes, maybe a larger ad agency in NYC no longer needs their seven floors and thousands of square footage in midtown Manhattan, but we will need the space to get back to normal. 

However, for now, Covid-19 continues to be a threat to the health of our people, so we see no reason to tempt fate. This is a marathon, not a sprint. But as we wait for some normalcy to return, I'm more bullish than ever on how mission critical the office will be for us moving forward. Quite simply, humans crave interaction with other humans. That's where the magic happens. We miss the creative collisions, the collaborative spaces, the proximity to the art, culture, nature and watering holes of downtown Boulder. 

I recently came across Jerry Seinfeld's New York Times op-ed. He was providing a counter-argument to the uber-trendy belief that New York is over because everybody will "remote everything." As Seinfeld said: "Guess what: Everyone hates to do this. Everyone. Hates. You know why? There’s no energy. Energy, attitude and personality cannot be 'remoted' through even the best fiber optic lines. That's the whole reason many of us moved to New York in the first place."

While we are in Boulder and not NYC, this is our sentiment exactly. Life will get back to normal, and we will want to plug back into the office again. Ask the ad agency Mother what they think. They just doubled down on a 15-year lease in Brooklyn.

Prior to the pandemic, we were inspired by houses and living spaces rather than office spaces. We sat side-by-side with our clients "hacking" their brands' future. And we can't wait to get back to this approach in some capacity when it's safe because collaboration in a creatively comfy space is what we're all about. 

And in terms of our new office realities now and in the future... 

We've installed sanitizing stations and air purifiers and will come back in phases to enable appropriate distancing. Mental health is a priority, so we required mental health days this summer and moving forward we're offering flexible schedules at an individual level, knowing everyone's situation is unique. We do a team hike every month and hosted a socially distant sunset happy hour out in a field overlooking Boulder's Flatirons. Our quarterly update meeting was held outside in my backyard. Culture is still extremely important to us, and empathy and connection is at the core.

While embracing the new normal, we continue to believe in the value of office interaction. We aren't giving up on the office just yet, because it's so much more than four walls to us.

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Andy Nathan
Andy Nathan is founder and CEO of Fortnight Collective.

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