shiny new office or just another set of prison walls?
I’ve mentioned in a couple of my update posts that the company
I work for that currently owns my ass was moving/had moved offices recently and now we’ve settled in what do I make of it all? To give you some background it is a small(ish) web company that got sold off about 1.5 years ago by megaCorp and so we were given a stay of execution at the the old head office site of around a year, which was situated on a kind of industrial estate in the middle of nowhere (well, near Brentford) alongside a busy dual carriageway. The new offices are finally a place to call our own again and are based in the heart of bustling and hustling Hammersmith. So on paper this is a massive win already 🙂
But, is the grass greener at the new place or am I hankering for some of the perks of the old megaCorp offices?
The TL;DR is that, yes it has improved my (working) life considerably, but at the end of the day you are still working for The Man, which is the whole point of this post really.
Below are some pros and cons of the office move, please note I am fully aware pretty much everything I say below that sounds whiney is a massive first world problem alert but I’m just trying appraise the situation from an FI perspective rather than from the standard employee view.
- It’s not any quicker door to door, pretty much bang on the same time, but I spend 15 minutes per journey (so half and hour per day) less on a train and using 2 of my very own limbs to get around instead.
- So I’m now walking about 1 hour per day in total, which is great, and as you can see above the walk into the office is rather pleasant.
- There are more connections so if trains are slightly awry I have more chance of getting home on time.
- I have to get the London Overground which can get a bit crowded at times, but at least I avoid the underground.
- I’ve actually got less time to do blog stuff or any other “laptop” type admin on the train now, as there is no chance of using it on the overground or while I’m walking around!
- It’s still a 1.5 hour commute door to door 🙁
- Ask me again about the 1 hour of walking per day in December and I may have a different answer 😀
- The office is a lot nicer, we have a lot more room and it’s in a cool repurposed old factory building.
- We have a large kitchen/dining area.
- There is a nice outdoor area to sit when the sun is out.
- We now have an office manager to go to with all your gripes who is a decent chap and does a really good job.
- We now have 3 meeting rooms (Three!!!) which is just insane for a company with about 50 employees. Hopefully people don’t start going crazy booking up meetings just to make use of them. Either way it seems to be a bit of a waste of space because…
- People are still having to hot desk due to lack of desks, which seems silly when the dining area is so large and we have excess meeting rooms.
- The Air-Con is still used excessively. If it’s less than 20 degrees outside it should be off no compromises IMHO 1!
- There is a never ending array of yummy looking eating establishments to try out around the local area.
- We now get free breakfast. We can order pretty much any kind of breakfast cereal you want, there is bread for toast and a large array of jam and other spreads to go on it. which is great on the wallet!
- We get 2 free fruit baskets a week as well but you have to get in there quick because it goes faster than Farage’s U-Turn on the NHS after the leave result.
- There is a lunchtime food market nearby on Thursday and Friday serving up delicious treats from around the globe.
- We have a beer fridge!!! 🙂
- There is a never ending array of yummy looking eating establishments… (and the food market). This is not good for something trying not to spend £8 a day on lunch!!!
- Free breakfast, and toast at any time of the day?! Free beer only available after 5:30pm on a Friday!? Evil genius! This is surely all just a cynical ploy to get people to come in earlier and stay later in the office. You bastards!
- The free breakfast provided is no good if you trying to avoid carbs.
- There is no longer a subsidised canteen so no more hot meals for £1.50 or fresh poached eggs on toast for 50p 🙁
- There are tonnes of pubs to go out to on our doorstep, which makes going for a cheeky pint so much easier.
- Now we have a large kitchen/dining area of our own, people are actually sitting down together for a proper lunch break, and you know, talking to each other, rather than grabbing something and eating at their desks. This makes office life so much more bearable IMO!
- There are tonnes of pubs to go out to… again this is not so great if you are trying to avoid spending money. To be fair in the 2 or 3 months we’ve been there I’ve only been out once (leaving do) but it probably would have been a different story if the move had been made pre baby T life 🙂
witness the fitness
- The location is great, right next to the Thames so great for a lunchtime run up and down the tow paths. Lovely!
- There is a squash place nearby so hopefully can get back into that soon 2.
- There are showering facilties for people who bike in or do lunchtime excercising activities, much to the relief of everyone else in the office 🙂
- Squash place is slightly more expensive than the old one 3, but that is to be expected really as everything seems to be more expensive the closer you get to central London.
It doesn’t matter all that much how great your offices, extra perks or any of the other junk your employer dishes out instead of just giving you a damn pay rise are.
It’s very nice to be offered plush offices and other perks but if you have a strong desire for freedom like us FI types do then all of this just tends to be a distraction from keeping our heads down and saving up enough to get the hell out of there. Which is exactly what The Man wants, right!?
Now we’re properly in the big smoke again there are temptations abound… that is going to be half the battle for me I think! I can already see in my budget that I’ve been spending more on “dining and drinking” during the week while I’m in the office, which practically used to be zero. I think I’m going to try to limit eating out to a once a week treat on Friday’s going forward, which seems fair. There is no point in being in such a vibrant location and not taking advantage of any of the benefits around you, but I don’t want it to become the default option (if it does then it wouldn’t be a treat anyway… see MMM’s post King for a day for more thoughts behind that)
Anyway I’ll enjoy it while the buzz is still there and I’m glad more than anything of the extra social benefits that have arisen, but other than that it’s back to business as usual for me 😉
other random observations
Now we’re back in a bit more central London and I get to walk through the posh areas around Kensington I’ve for the first time borne witness to the Chelsea Tractor brigade. It really is a sight to behold to see a huge line of SUVs, in the main with one mum and one kid in there, stuck in a traffic jam while I stroll past at a canter thinking are these people insane!? I would love to do a quick survey on how many of them are driving less than 1 or 2 miles but I think the results would be depressing. And the traffic in general through Hammersmith is totally fucked up, I don’t know why anyone would even attempt to drive a motor vehicle larger than a moped through there at any time of day let alone in rush hour.
The car clown habit 4 is unfortunately alive and kicking in the UK and it is getting worse from my observations. It’s getting worse in my home town as well, it’s clearly not just limited to London! But I get the train so early I don’t usually see the worst of it.
I know this kind of thing is all over London (or any major city really) but the stark difference between rich and poor is very evident in this area, with swanky houses that must be worth over 2 million next to horrendous looking council flats (although to be fair they could all be private flats now and probably worth over half a mill each anyway for all I know!!!!). You can tell the kids who are going to the private schools 5 in the area and those who aren’t just by looking at them as well. No real comment to make on this but it’s just something I noticed.
I seem to have a love/hate relationship with London. I do like working here and it is “cool” and there is lots to do, but it is also an over-crowded, smelly, dirty place as well. I am glad to get out of there each night and I definitely couldn’t hack living up here – I have tried in the past for a year and failed miserably 🙂
I know some of the readers live there and love so don’t think I’m knocking that choice, it’s just not for me.
fancy a pint?
On a completely random note to end, I’ve missed the last few FI meetups (or FIRE Assembly to give them their proper name) organised by Huw and the next one is in Wales again which is a bit too far for us London/SE based people (well it is for me anyway) so I was going to put the feelers out to see if any of the London based people would be interested in meeting up for a few drinks one night? Kind of like a FIRE Assembly lite?
Let me know in the comments below and we can try to get something sorted!
- The AC system is actually to fault here, there apparently is a “hot side” and a “cold side” of the office, but the AC apparently is all linked into one thermostat sensor. That’s great design over a an office space of many hundreds of square feet isn’t it!? Anyway the “hot” side of the office won the battle of whether to keep it turned on or off because they were already down to their T-shirts and no one really wanted to see 25 grown men working in their pants. ↩
- I’ve played once since the move so far. ↩
- £7.50 vs £5.00 ↩
- Maybe we should rename this group of people the Insane Car Clown Posse!? 🙂 ↩
- The cute little hats with bows on them give it away if nothing else does 🙂 ↩