I find with offices that I am more than a little picky, you think that all you want are a few simple basics but it turns out that none of the shared or small office providers want to provide what you want in the way you want it
I tried most of the leading communal office companies as a truly private office would be too expensive, and I would go stir-crazy, but every time there would be something fundamentally wrong with them. Faults ranged from one office advertising itself as a “dynamic shared environment” which turned out to be a lobby coffee shop >:( 1 through to places that were so keen to get you in that it felt like you had hired yet another project manager to be on your case. This happened four or five times, but I was determined to find a good work base 2, and my perfect office turned out to be a place called Purple Patch.
Within a day of trailing in to the building fresh from an outrage at a previous office provider, I determined to settle there like an ugly toad under a rock. If you want the low-down I recommend you go and look at their web site
Let’s walk through my must-haves:
24-hour access: This is a big thing for me, in fact THE big thing. Most shared offices close at 6pm, and you’re waiting at the door at 8am to be let in. However Purple Patch is really 24 hour access. They give you a bunch of keys and security fobs after checking your background, and then you can come in at any time, day or night. Perfect for those late night deadlines.
Impresses Clients: The place must look and feel good: a lot of shared offices have a slightly tired feel about them, a bit like airport lounges. At Purple Patch everything is bright and clean, and I thought at first it was because the place was new—but no, it’s been there for 15 years and simply has regular revamps. This means that you can bring clients on-site with a sense of pride, and its excellent location means that there are tons of great places to eat and drink within idle wandering distance.
Hard Lines: I know that everyone just lives on wifi, but not me. Wifi is fine and everything but I want a good speed, I want to go like the clappers, and so each desk has a network port in it that gives you 100Meg down, and the same up. This means that only individual clients’ VPN speeds slow me down.
Layout: I like open-plan, but not OPEN PLAN. Again, Purple Patch scores: the building itself is like a cheerful Gormenghast (or as Ben Poole said, “an eclectic second hand book shop”). Desks are grouped into bays and natural nooks, you don’t feel isolated, but similarly you are not forced to endure every word of a nearby loudmouth’s day.
Humanity: My office provider must be human. One of the Purple Patch clients has a small dog she sometimes brings in, and no-one howls (sorry) about rules. Parents bring in kids and I have never been disturbed by them (the layout helps with this and the fact there is a chill-out area with table-top football that gives kids something to do). No-one brings in jaguars and what can and can’t be done is decided on a case-by-case bases to keep everyone happy, rather than by following a soulless set of rules.
Now the little things:
Nice toilet roll holders: Don’t look at me like that. How many times have you been at a clients or any kind of office and had to deal with a toilet roll holder that looks straight out of Parkhurst prison? Something that does not allow more than 2 sheets to be pulled off before it jams and rips and you end up having a little tantrum, reaching in and ripping the offending roll out which is less than professional. It turns out that Purple Patch agrees and has proper toilet roll holders that hold multiple roles and that don’t damn well jam.
Proper coffee in proper places Purple Patch have different coffee in different places in the building (yes, yes tea as well!) If you want to wait at a machine while it goes “pluck pluck pluck” then fine there’s one of those. Personally I like the old style filter coffee pots and they are always kept topped-up to ensure optimal coding hyperactivity. I have watched Ben Poole consume his entire body weight in coffee within approximately ten minutes of arriving at the office.
… and that’s it. Really I am just relieved to have found an office I like and can do business in :-)
(BTW: I’m not getting paid or anything for this review!)
This is where I skulk. Your desk is static and you get a locking cupboard (there are personal lockers as well)
Lots of little drop-in meeting nooks
Coffee, COFFEE!!! (kept topped-up by the lovely lovely staff)
You would not believe that the meeting rooms are actually cheaper than horrible scabby chain franchise ones
A nice shower at an office, there’s an idea
Even LDC Via can enjoy a meeting there (and maybe the pub afterwards)
Meaning I couldn’t leave my laptop unattended therefore had to take it with me every time I went to the toilet ↩
I could not really use home as my work place as I need to meet with clients and clients of companies I am sub-contracting for. LDC Via work together a lot as well and frankly I start to lose productivity if I work from home more than around one day every two weeks. ↩