Office Spaces, Office Dreams
Logan: You went on a field trip to visit a well-known internet company. How were their offices?
Mike: Huge. You could easily get lost. Some people used scooters to get around because sometimes walking took a very long time. It was a lunch meeting, so I was taken to (one) of their cafeterias. The food was very good. And free for employees and guests.
Logan: Like, K&W cafeteria good? Like school cafeteria good? What are we talking about here. What did you eat. What could you have eaten.
Mike: I guess good like I would be perfectly fine eating there every day. There were a lot of prepared food stations, fresh fruit and vegetables, and also stations where chefs made you specific dishes. I didn’t really want to wait in those lines, so I made myself a salad with spinach/mixed greens, beets, gorgonzola, tofu—um there are a lot more ingredients and it might be too boring to list them here. I also got this spicy broccoli dish, and a lentils dish. But dessert: I got frozen yogurt with honey dew, a strawberry bread pudding, and a cranberry chocolate chip cookie. They also had every drink imaginable. After I had dessert, I was taken to a cafe where I got a cappuccino. I mean, they basically had everything you wanted and it was just there for free. There was also a snack room and they were like, “Take as many snacks as you want!” But I didn’t take anything.
Logan: OMG Mike I’m so glad to hear you had three desserts. I feel like usually you’re like, a dessert eschewer! Like when you buy people cakes for their birthdays, which is something you do, I always have 5 pieces and you always have 1 piece. Eschew! The frozen yogurt sounds great. If I worked in that office I would gain a lot of weight and I would probably also go crazy, because I would be thinking about frozen yogurt all the time, and how it was so close, and free, and close, and free. Good thing I don’t work there! And who wants their huge salaries either, not me!
Mike: Yeah, they actually said the “Freshman 25” is not an uncommon thing to get when you start working there. As in 25 pounds, yes—but hopefully all that walking around just to get from one room to another helps deter that. I mean, I like the idea that you don’t really have to think about lunch (and paying for it)—you can just grab whatever you want and then get back to work. There was also a game room. And a room full of LEGOs.
Logan: Did free childcare come with the LEGOs?
Mike: I didn’t ask, but I’m sure that’s a thing there. The truth is that if I did work there every day, I probably wouldn’t use most of those perks! I wasn’t there for work, so I had the time to walk around, but the people who did work there looked super busy and were mostly in their offices/at their desks. But, yeah, it was a moment of: Oh, places like this exist. What is your ideal office space?
Logan: Um, basically it would be like in Star Trek where you could conjure up whatever space you wanted at a specific time. But if we want to talk REAL TALK: good lighting, high ceilings, a variety of seating options (desk area! standing desk area! couches! floor pillows!) and a fridge/kitchen area with only healthy things and maybe also some secret chocolate. And good airflow. And sometimes it’s quiet and sometimes it’s a low murmer like the lobby of the library in college. And sometimes there’s music playing and everyone is laughing and sometimes I’m the only one there.
Mike: I do like having a kitchen area. And good lighting is so key. So the funny thing is I’ve worked for a few startups, and at one of them there were high ceilings and big windows with good lighting. There was a kitchen area with a fridge with healthy snacks (I helped order the groceries every week). There was a ping pong table. The conference room had a big TV and an Xbox and sometimes we would play a quick game whenever we wanted to take a break. But: I wouldn’t trade our job working at our scrappy little site for that. The thing is: Your actual job is so much more important than that. Those perks are nice, but I don’t really think about them anymore, and I didn’t really even think about it when I had them.
Logan: Oh right, of course. I mean, those perks are there to distract from, or make you feel better about, the fact that you’re in the office like, a zillion hours a week, right? I forgot to mention some more requirements for my dream office: lots plants, so many plants. Walkable from my house but not so close that I’d be tempted to go home to take a nap. Lots of funny people would be there. And there would be a dog. Or two. Two dogs. Oh and health insurance for everyone. Dream office. That’s the office I’d make if I had a company and lots of money (??WHEN?? I have a company and lots of money.) For now my dream office is the office that no one requires me to go to, which is what we’ve got, and that’s just swell.
Mike: Haha, yes, plants and health insurance. And paid interns—which, by the way, we’ve decided not to have. I mean, any interns at all at the moment. But we will one day. And it will be well-thought out, and hopefully we’ll be good mentors and can do some kind of stipend.
Logan: I got really close to almost taking one on and then I decided that getting someone to transcribe my interviews would actually involve getting someone to listen to my interviews, and … nope! Gonna keep my interrogation skills secret until I decide to start a podcast or whatever it is I should be doing. Google hangouts. Open Skype sesh. Party lines.
Photo: Matt Brown