Finding Space

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Time to think. A place to think. Your own little space.

An artist uses a studio. A great business person has an office. As the world continues to untether because of laptops, tablets, mobile devices and persistent connectivity, those studios and offices have become moving targets. Musicians can record from their laptop. Any business person with a mobile can make their art in the corner cafe. The truth is that we – as Marketers – have never had a better time in our profession to be able to find the right space to come up with the right ideas.

It’s all about the gear… and what you do with it.

Someone recently asked me how much time I spend at the office. It actually gave me pause. Even though we have two Twist Image offices in different cities that I spend quite a bit of time in (if I’m not travelling, my days are usually spent in one of the two offices), for some reason, I consider my MacBook Pro my "real" office. Over the years, the construct of a physical office means less and less to me as my ability to generate ideas, create and think about the clients we work with and the industry I serve is increasingly less about where I am, and much more about the people I am collaborating with and my access to the information I need or tools to create. 

MacBook Pro as office.

Yes, I’m in love with the look and feel of my Apple MacBook Pro (it’s a piece of design beauty), but more than that, I often look at the closed computer and think to myself that if I were a painter, this computer would be like having a small portable studio with every type of canvas, paint, brush and color available at the touch of a finger. That’s a powerful thought… and it’s true. We used to find a physical space to get our work done, but even that is changing.

The future of work and space.

In April 2008, The Economist ran an article titled, The New Oases, that looked at how our new-found mobility was in the process of redefining and changing our physical work spaces: "In the 20th century architecture was about specialized structures–offices for working, cafeterias for eating, and so forth. This was necessary because workers needed to be near things such as landline phones, fax machines and filing cabinets, and because the economics of building materials favored repetitive and simple structures, such as grid patterns for cubicles… Buildings will have much more varied shapes than before. For instance, people working on laptops find it comforting to have their backs to a wall, so hybrid spaces may become curvier, with more nooks, in order to maximize the surface area of their inner walls."

It’s a fascinating time to be working… however you define it and wherever you’re doing it.


  1. Since I too adore my MacBook Pro does that mean in some strange way we share offices? Seriously though, I too see my MBP as my office and that helps me escape the excuse that I can’t be productive unless I’m at my physical office. Another great post Mitch. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  2. though not on a mac I see my office as where I am with my laptop, and smart phone – it’s the modern nomade, it keeps you close to both worlds work & home, and it let’s you get away for thinking while still being present

  3. Absolutely right. With connectivity now, even the physical idea of sharing with a community (coffee in the kitchen in the morning) can now be reproduced. Once in a while, though, very important to be physically at the office, giving pats on the shoulders. I would not want to miss that part of humanity.

  4. I had a client ask me about my workspace last week and I said it’s “right here”. And “here” is wherever I happen to be. My office is very simple. Small desk, no fancy drawers or doohickeys, subwoofer and speakers, books, a good chair, mobile device and my laptop. I think the simplicity may have come from my radio days where the physical space was irrelevant, the content was everything.
    The social web, digital marketing landscape and the connectivity you speak about has reminded us that not only does our space NOT define us but neither does our geography. Since immersing myself in the online world and doing work in the space for clients (among other duties) I have met people from all over the world who live in towns I had never heard of before.
    You need good tools (as I found out this week when my PC laptop got whacked with a virus) but you don’t need opulence to create magic. Quite often that becomes a bigger distraction.

  5. An interesting article. I would like to post a link to it from my blog, if that is ok. While we sell physical and virtual office facilities, we cannot run away from the way the world is working and how people are now finding new ways to connect with that world.
    Many thanks

  6. Hey Barry,
    I’m flattered that you would like to use my content. The whole point of writing and Blogging for me is to get my ideas to spread. So, you can feel free to go ahead and use it, under these conditions:
    1) Please link back to the original post.
    2) Please use my by-line: Mitch Joel – President, Twist Image & author of Six Pixels of Separation.
    If you need a photo or bio, you can feel free to grab everything from here:
    Please let me know if you have any more questions.

  7. Very true Mitch…as my macbook pro has become an extension of my physical office, my ipad is often an extension my macbook pro thanks to the wonderful world of VPN!
    I can control all of my Adobe Creative Suite products that are housed on my macbook (at home or at my office), from my ipad! It’s fantastic!
    The ipad has become a great tool while meeting with potential new clients…

  8. I love my Macbook Pro. But I must admit that I prefer working on my iMac. Having a space to work is really important for me. Maybe because I am influenced by the old school.
    This being said I truly believe that the office of the 2010’s is mobile.

  9. It’s ironic that we built our own cages over the years. We complain about incessant work times yet we go around with work stations, and we rejoice when new ones are devised – think about the iPad.
    New technologies give power to people in an unprecedented way, but they also enslave them to a 24/7 presence it’s becoming increasingly hard to escape from.

  10. Interesting post Mitch. As an entrepreneur you have the freedom to be mobile. Actually, I suspect you have an obligation to be mobile, because the more you are out of the office the more value you bring to Twist Image.
    But as you mention, you have 2 offices. What is the value of the “bricks and mortar” for your staff? Do they get to have the same untethered freedom you do?

  11. Some work requires the hunkering down with people around you to get things done (programmers, client services, strategy folks, designers, etc…). I need that too, but the true point of this post was the freedom we all have to work in a more untethered way.

  12. exactly the fact that we’re so accessable anywhere anytime, also means that there is more room to be inaccessable when it suits us.

  13. Teach my children about the importance of your own work area. An organized, clean, personal space one can call their own.
    Whether with a laptop, PC or a Mac; the work area needs to be uncluttered. If not, the mind doesn’t focus like it should.
    Mitch, you’d had a link to an article regarding space within the city a couple of months ago. There are correlations to city space and workspace.

  14. I have a pretty similar take on this Mitch, partly because as well as running a small agency here in Stockholm my other love are my six (a-hem) basset hounds.
    Being able to take my office with me enables me to spend a lot of time in places that I ordinarily wouldn’t be able to manage if I was confined to a physical office.
    As my team are scattered around the globe, as well as the city, we all seem to benefit from a mobile lifestyle.
    The suite of products from 37Signals is probably the conference room for my office 🙂

  15. I love my MBP and hopefully getting the new 15″ with quad-core this weekend. That being said, my wife and friends joke about my office being any Starbucks within a 25 mile radius. I work out of my home, and meet clients at Starbucks all the time. From what I can tell, I have not lost a client because we did not meet at the office.
    I also enjoy the mobility because I get the feeling of being around people. My car windows are “wrapped” and I wear my business shirts while I am out. I get more business because I am mobile. I love it.

  16. Interesting post, especially for freelancers who take their work space very seriously.
    I have been a freelance graphic designer for over 3 years now, and have a studio where I’ve used every square inch of my wall space to display all my print work.. Absolutely no one ever comes into my studio to see this grand display.. but it helps me keep positive when I’m faced with the “Saul Bass” problem; fear of the white page! (or white MacBook Pro screen)..
    When I tire of my studio, I head to my cumfy couch in the living room.. some days I work from my bed (sshhh, don’t tell anyone)… some days I work from my kitchen. And the Piece Du Risistance of work spaces.. The Deck outside! Man, Freelancing Rules!

  17. Not having a great deal of workspace at home I make sure I use my space well. At home the mac book is a must. All of the integrated software makes things so much easier. Having a reliable and small printer also helps save space. On a sadder note, my other mac book I use for personal use was crushed by my pit bull cracking the screen. Its the second time its happened to me.

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