Not long ago I wrote about the secret geographies of the office for Wired. I was a little surprised by the reaction. I expected people to yell at me, like usual, but instead people wrote in to say that they missed the office, too. They sent me pictures of their offices and maps of their offices. One “office” was a homeless outreach service in the West, which was a good reminder of how lucky we are in the tech industry to have the work and flexibility that we do.
A return to anything like “normal” is still probably six months away, but I like thinking about it. Like many companies, Postlight has gone fully remote. We’ve hired non-NYC employees across the organization, not just in engineering but in design and product management as well. We’re talking about how it will work to return to our offices and looking for both CDC guidance and best practices. The pandemic has taught us all patience.
So, we’re waiting. But in the meantime, I am really looking forward to a few things.
Really long meetings with breaks
I know it’s ridiculous to say “I miss meetings.” Especially because I’m in meetings on video for six hours a day. But sometimes you just need to hash things out for six hours with a whiteboard and those sandwiches that seem to only exist in corporate lunch settings. Structured time with long agendas during which you can be playful, take breaks, go for a walk around the block, watch some dumb videos, go out for lunch — it feels like it’s been a year since anyone has been able to change the topic of conversation.
Video meetings really enforce existing hierarchies. Casual interaction and chatter is difficult. So you end up talking to peers or people one level up or down, and it’s much harder to pipe up in meetings. And Slack channels are nice, but they aren’t serendipitous in the same way as when you overhear someone talking about Marvel movies while they eat random candy.
And increasingly, after a year of Postlight going remote, I keep finding that things I am sure everyone knows — our hiring policies, or why we’re called Postlight — hardly anyone knows. (Post is for HTTP POST! Light because we’re on screens! And also because voice interfaces were big when we started the firm, and so if people stopped caring about screens, we could be “post-light.” But thankfully that didn’t happen.)
Fighting with Rich
It’s important to be respectful to all, but I simply enjoy arguing with my co-founder Rich, calling him names, and making fun of every aspect of his personality and being. He enjoys doing the same to me. And it’s no fun to fight over video. It’s too much like a real fight.
After a year of being pandemic co-founders, leading an absolutely amazing team that does the real work of running the shop, and driving through the most dramatic period of growth we’ve ever experienced, we have defaulted to being very polite, caring, and tender toward each other. It’s absolutely exhausting, and it needs to stop. I didn’t move to New York City in 1995 to be tender.
Drop the kids off at school, get onto the bus or train, and watch the world go by with a book in hand. An NYC commute is an excuse to read and think for about an hour every morning. That feels like an absurd indulgence at home.
It’s been a long year. And it’ll be a long stretch until we’re back, safe, and CDC-approved. But things are looking up, and I’m looking forward. Drop me a line with what you miss, too!