For almost 17 years, we’ve had no physical office. We’ve operated in all kinds of locations — starting in my parents house, and then my dorm room at UCF, then my mom’s garage, and every location you could imagine that had wi-fi. Over the last few years, our team has all worked from their home offices, or Starbucks, or anywhere with a decent connection. But nothing stays the same forever, and we’re making a big move in early 2016 into our first physical office space. But why now?
I’ve always believed in the ideas of a lifestyle business, remote work, and flexible hours. I ate up books like REMOTE that pushed the concept of working from anywhere. I still believe in these principles, but as we’ve grown and started to venture into more strategy work, we’ve found that collaboration needs a place to happen in ways that Slack, Basecamp, and Teamwork can’t replicate. Even for a guy like me, who loves passive communication, nothing can replace an in person meeting for some topics.
Part of me can’t believe I’m writing this, the idea of a physical office tends to come to mind every couple years but quickly leave once I factor in cost, travel time, etc. Something changed this year and it just seemed like the right time. I can’t pinpoint exactly what caused the shift, but the whole team seemed to change their mind on the idea at the same time. Over many years in business, I’ve found that often you just have to follow your gut, so off to office hunt I went.
What I knew I didn’t want was a traditional office with white walls and florescent lights. I wanted to place with natural light, open space, and a creative feel. After looking at nearly every option within a 20 minute radius (remember, I’ve worked from home for 20 years, the idea of going farther than that for an office wasn’t going to fly), we settled on an awesome space in Palencia near US 1 in St. Augustine, Florida. It’s corner unit with two whole walls made of glass bringing in a ton of nature light. The space is wide open at the moment, but we plan to enclose a conference room and kitchenette area.
Finding a space, negotiating an agreement, signing a contract, and working on the loan has been no small task, but having friends around who have done similar things in the past has been a big help.
We’ll be starting the build out for the space in about a month and hope to be in there by the beginning of 2016. We’d love to have you stop by, check out the space, and say hi once it’s complete.
I’ll be sharing more about the project and progress as things move along. I’d love to hear your story in the comments below if you have transitioned to or away from a physical office space.