[Editor’s Note: April Fools! This post is a joke; after you have a laugh, make sure to read all about our real commitment to distributed working!]
In February, we outlined some big changes at Four Kitchens. Despite celebrating 10 years in business, a bold, new leadership structure, and unprecedented growth at 4K, what caught people’s attention was our announcement that we’re letting go of our physical office. This surprised us. Lots of companies are distributed! Why was this such a big deal?
Last week, we published a follow-up to our announcement: “Breaking out of the office”. This post detailed our reasons for becoming a fully distributed team. Our motivations were pure. Our logic was sound. But the more we thought about it, something seemed terribly wrong. Then it dawned on us.
We made a BIG mistake — perhaps the worst in our venerable decade of building websites (BIG websites). We’ve decided to reverse our decision. We will maintain an office.
Why we aren’t closing our office
Why have we backed down from our bold vision of an office-free workplace? Why have we shunned what we stridently referred to as “the future of work”? Simply put: It’s a lie. No company can succeed without a brick-and-mortar office. Here’s why:
1. Clients won’t trust a company without an office. After our announcement, clients panicked. Their questions were endless: “How can we pay your invoices if you don’t have a mailing address? How can you publish Weekly Watercooler without a watercooler to write them? How are you supposed to have conference calls without a conference room?” One client had to be physically restrained after assuming our three years of award-winning work was an elaborately staged prank. And they were right: Why would a client rely on our team’s overflowing portfolio, stellar reputation, and Emmy when they can’t stand behind us, arms crossed skeptically, as we write code?
2. Video chat headsets look silly, and their microphones smell weird after a few weeks. Distributed communication requires well-defined processes, protocols, and tools. Video calls are preferred — phone calls can’t convey facial expressions or body language — and excellent audio is a must. Tinny laptop mics and scratchy earbuds won’t cut it. You need high-quality, over-the-ear headsets. Problem is, they mess up your hair, and if you enjoy the occasional bowl of pungent gruel while on video calls (as I do), the microphone develops a… smell. Nobody likes Headset Head or Stink-Mic, so forget it! Go to the office and loudly over-articulate into a Polycom unit like civilized people.
3. Commuting is a healthy and culturally significant tradition. Science has proven a daily commute is beneficial to physical and mental health. An hour every morning and afternoon — ideally two or three hours each way — provides the American worker a valuable meditative break. Every morning, we mentally prepare for the day ahead in the comfort of our cars, shoulder-to-shoulder amongst our fellow citizens in trains and buses, or astride bicycles, shivering, yet sweaty, in the driving rain; every afternoon, we quietly reflect on our day as our foot rides the brake pedal. Plus, the carbon monoxide and other vehicle emissions lower our heart and breathing rates — a natural, drug-free sedative!
Bigger, better, more-er offices
Simply keeping our office isn’t enough. If our office is what makes us successful, having more offices will make us more successful. That’s why we’re rolling the following four-point plan to build better, better, more-er offices.
- Exposed brick walls! Exposed bricks are the building blocks of inspiration.
- Every Web Chef will be given their own, private office. Not a room — an entire office suite. We want to be the McDonald’s of web design: A consultancy on every corner! Digital strategy dispensed with drive-thru convenience. We want to do for the web what Babbage’s did for PC software, what K-Mart did for big-box retail, what Radio Shack did for weird batteries. Austin’s a great place to set up shop, but we’re neglecting the United States’ remaining 19,354 towns, villages, or “otherwise incorporated places.” We hope to grow from Four Kitchens to Fourteen Hundred Kitchens by 2020.
- Ping-pong tables!!!
- Instead of closing our doors, we’re going to open them. Every Four Kitchens office will be equipped with at least fifty doors, each of which can be opened. We will support all kinds of doors: French doors, storm doors, sliding patio doors. Doors that creak. Doors that open into yawning, empty abysses. Old West, saloon-style doors through which unruly outlaws burst, causing the piano player to prematurely end her jaunty tune and duck under the bench. And we won’t stop there! We’re also looking into drawbridges, murder holes, and parapets. Welcome to the new Four Kitchens: Door Kitchens.
The future of the web is an office
We all know the internet is a fad, and so is working from home. How can you tell if someone is actually working while at home, anyway? It’s impossible to know, and we don’t plan to find out.
#SupportCorporateRealEstate and just say no to #WorkFromHomeWelfare!