Working means what today?

Open space, flexibility, working from wherever whenever. It’s a given or so you would be led to think by today’s media.

It’s an idea that sounds fantastic. Independent, open, free, and working from where you want when you want.

You envision yourself in Malaysia. It’s exotic and sultry. Booze, wait, beverages are ridiculously cheap and mostly fruit colored.

You eat funny shaped and undercooked food which makes you wrongly judge the culture you are in until you realize it’s their culture, not yours.

This is what it must be like to be Anthony Bourdain but without the camera crew and jeans and tattoos.

Wifi is basically free and cheap which is awesome. You hear and smell the streets and “mix ” with the locals. By mixing that means, you buy shit from them.

You are the worldly flexible citizen of the planet raking in the US big bucks and chucking everything it stands for to be free and productive at least in your mind.

New York Reality.

Boom out the door and as soon and you hit the sidewalk you increase your pace. You have to, or mostly you will get ran over. And without fail the sirens. They never stop and are so annoying, whoop woop wioop woop wioop whop. I know what you are thinking. Just fucking die already and leave the rest of the world in peace, wiooop whiiop woop whoop. Constantly constant.

You hustle and bustle to the train station down the steps and then sandwich your ass in. Headphones on and listening to…..

Off the train, at your usual stop, you walk and occasionally look up between the buildings. It’s the sun wait no it’s not the sun. It’s the wind. Always the wind. You try and remember New York is an island.

You dig for your card and scan it through the security turnstile thingies leaning towards the correct set of elevators for your floor. The doors open and you see that nice smile from the receptionist and try and remember to get her a gift card or something for her birthday. She’s so nice you and you and her have chatted on a couple of occasions. She always mentions her kids.

Passing her with a smile back you pass the coffee station. Wait, you do not dare pass the coffee station, refills are a gift from above. Perks are perks. And then you see it. Your space. It’s openish. Its got a view (of another building 20 feet next to you) it has light. It has a chair that hurts you back and makes your ass numb. It’s space to work. It’s space in an office.

You heard you thought, you’ve uh mentioned it (would be possibly productive and helpful) in general conversations to have open and or flexible working hours and spaces.

You know a couple of people actually you know way more than a couple of people who are in co-working spaces. It’s not as all glamorous as they make it out to be. It’s always a bit busy and cramped. Yes, there is space for event type things, but overall it’s a culture of work. Ironically it seems like there is more work going on when you visit them than at your actual office.

You do have that one friend that’s hanging at the plush co-working space. It’s like a designer with actual taste put this place together not what someone thought it might be.

How many artsy orange weird shaped chairs does the world need or use for that matter? This place is soft, a bit quite and more communal. It’s more interactive. What’s funny is that your boss always encourages focus and collaboration to do work that gets done.

The person that makes the most money in the office is always talking to somebody and never seems to do anything. This place is a bit like that. Your friend says it’s worth the cost just for the introductions alone. How many people do you get to meet other than the same people next to you cubicle every single day?

The perceived freedom. The willing need to be flexible and chat for a few minutes with that professor guy from some school you never heard of. He seemed nice. Who else is there to talk to in the cubicle farm?

You have also heard of companies placing people in these co-working type spots on purpose. Just for all the reasons, you are thinking about. You can’t help but think back to your boss and his classic “here are the people doing the actual work in this office” line. Yes, you get it. Why does it sometimes feel like indentured labor?

Is this a fear of missing out? A sense of loss from not only your business but your community in general. You hardly see anyone outside of your work. When it does not involve work it does not work for you and you don’t want to see anyone from there. But what about those ideas and the brain stimulation? The freedom of movement and thought. You’ve also heard the minute they open things up everyone gravitates back together.

The C-level people hang with their own kind and how dare you even break that invisible if, not the physical barrier?

If given the chance you could and would make it work. What would you give up to get it? What could you do with the time it takes every day just to get back and forth to your office? The work you do does not require being at a specific spot on the planet for any reason. You have heard of a competing company offering much more in the way of flexibility and yes you looked at their website, from home of course. Is that enough to jump ship? What is your time and well-being worth again?

Just think, it’s muggy, the breeze picks up, the beverage next to you is fresh and cold. Your laptop closes and you have finished working for the day and you look over, No, that’s not, wait is that, no that’s not Anthony Bourdain sitting at that table sunglasses on and leaning back, but it could have been. You’re just at work after all, why would he be here. Here in exotic Malaysia. He might just be working like you are.

Independent flexible productive and always doing work the way it should be done. On your time and where and how it needs to be. It’s the reality we all live in today.

I work when, where and how I want to work, or I don’t work at all!

Duke Long

Duke LongDuke Long is a twenty-year veteran of commercial real estate. He is the broker/owner of The Duke Long Agency. He is also known for writing his strong opinions about all things CRE at www.dukelong.com. He has delivered numerous presentations and discussions about online CRE tech, marketing, data, and digital media. Indiana University allowed him to study real estate and the United States Air Force discharged him honorably.

  • David Perlmutter

    That was Ben Perlmutter, not Anthony Bourdain.