After 20 years in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood, Imaginary Landscape has moved to Evanston. It was a big move, but one that was set in motion by the lasting effect COVID has had on the workplace.
Like all business owners, we've wondered when the world would return to normal. Over time, "when" became "if" and now we know the answer: never. Throughout that transition, we kept the lights on and the coffee brewing just in case staff wanted to return to the office. Almost all have elected to work remotely.
Nostalgically, we really loved our Andersonville office. Tucked away in a quirky building that we shared at various times with the likes of Metropolitan Brewing and Koval Distillery, we were blocks away from the always-vibrant epicenter of Andersonville. Our large, lofty, exposed brick, open floorplan office was, at its peak, the daily workplace for 16 staff members. Since COVID, that number had been reduced to two. Everyone else is home.
We never considered requiring staff to return to the office. In fact, we are amused at the news reports of such requirements being enforced - all to the detriment of workers. But, there's a lot of office space sitting empty. Couple that with the old school leadership mantra, "If they aren't at the office, they must be goofing off" and the old school solution of bringing everyone back is understandable.
We can't speak for other organizations, but we've noticed this about ours. Work is getting done. It may not be getting done within the rigidity of a 9-5 work day, but it is getting done. Staff is appreciative of the flexibility and that's very important to us as well.
As we began the process of finding a new space, there were several characteristics that emerged. First, we needed a private office space to call our own but not nearly as much space. Second, we wanted to have services provided, such as office management, cleaning, network technicians, even coffee. Last, for those coming into the office regularly, we didn't want to be isolated. We wanted an active workplace.
We explored many different options and settled on a co-working space called Industrious. It matches all our requirements and is a really wonderful place with lots of resources. So far, we've been here for a month and it's been great. We have a sizeable private office (including the couch and coffee table from the old office) but also have access to lots of common space, ten conference rooms of various sizes and lots of amenities. There are many permanent offices here as well as a number of transient workers so there is always activity. So far, it fits the bill nicely.
Imaginary Landscape's new address is 909 David Street, Suite 500, Evanston, Illinois 60201