Recently I saw The Lincoln Lawyer on Netflix. It’s a fun film, especially now that we’ve come to appreciate Matthew McConaughey’s acting style. And, although I had read the Michael Connelly bestseller years ago, I hadn’t yet fully grasped the scope of Connelly’s rather modern ideas on ‘the office’.
The idea of the office has been changing ever since its inception in the late 1900s.
The latest change has been from individual offices in adjacent rooms or cubicles to the ‘open plan office’. Office ‘gardens’ where everybody is sitting next to each other and where no one has a set desk. Working at home was a trend for a while, but since Melissa Mayer banned the practice at Yahoo, that ship has sailed for all those work-private life juggling moms and dads.
Now Mick Haller, The Lincoln Lawyer in question, has the office situation that I think will dominate the individualised, specialised, internet-fuelled, freelance workplace of the next decade.
Mick Haller is a street smart criminal lawyer who works from the back of his Lincoln Continental, which is chauffeured by his loyal driver Earl. He pretends to have an office, but does not. His office secretary is a stay-at-home mom who answers his landline phone and keeps his agenda in check.
Haller works at his client’s locations, coffee shops and in the back of his car. He constantly adapts to changing circumstances and, for him, distance is never an issue.
I have been working like that for years now - living in Rotterdam and commuting between my Rotterdam desk and different locations in Amsterdam. My Lincoln is a Bombardier train from the Dutch Railroads. My 'office secretary' is literally a stay-at-home mom called Karen who works from Amsterdam while I do my rounds. I do not have an Earl, but I do have ‘Spoelie’, an architect who rents the desk next to mine in our office and who drives me around from time to time.
As Amsterdam, London, New York etcetera are becoming unaffordable for the thirty-something professional, his or her commute has become part of the workday. And, as jobs become more specialised and less stable, more and more people will adopt Mick Haller’s office mode: where the commute IS the office.
Haller’s Lincoln Continental might just be the office of the future, and I like it.