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Why we chose a real office over a work-from-home setup

Telecommuting was the easier route, but we didn’t want easy

Welcome to VISOR’s new home. We’ll make you good coffee if you visit us. Promise. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

A number of Metro Manila residents these days—including profit-minded employers—are starting to clamor for telecommuting. Or working from home. With motor vehicle traffic far worse than it has ever been, travel times for countless commuters have doubled in the last five years or so. And the added hours are not just from getting stuck in the middle of demotivating gridlock; oftentimes they’re from simply having to wait for a ride. Bottom line: There are already too many cars and too many travelers on the road, and so it behooves each and every one of us to keep off it whenever possible.

When we were setting up No Glare Media (our company) last year, we determined early on that we had to have a physical office as opposed to a virtual one. In all honesty, our business is exactly the kind that could thrive without a brick-and-mortar base. After all, our product and the way we produce it are entirely online. We could theoretically put up and maintain a website without ever meeting face-to-face with our writers, columnists, artists, videographers, even advertisers. With e-mail, SMS, Messenger and Viber at our disposal, we could all collaborate without having to leave our beds.

But then, I don’t know if we would have been taken seriously by the industry—both our colleagues and the automotive companies—had we taken that path. Our website could have ended up being dismissed as a half-hearted blog or a poor attempt at reviving the fading career of a washed-up motoring journalist. We had to have an actual workplace.

Next, we considered the so-called co-working space. Our very first day, I remember, was spent checking out one such facility in Bonifacio Global City. I didn’t like the vibe. I’m a very territorial person. I don’t like sharing my corner—no matter how little it is—with anyone who is not a member of my team. I’d like my own humble fiefdom, thank you very much.

But as we were a small startup, we had to be mindful of our expenses. And so we initially settled for an affordable unit in a residential enclave (also in BGC) while we were designing, developing, populating and tweaking the very website you’re reading now. It was a homey site, and I liked it—I wrote many of my favorite VISOR pieces within its four walls.

Our first (temporary) office was a condo in BGC. PHOTOS BY VERNON B. SARNE

The good thing was that the place was an apartment: It was comfortable and quiet. The bad thing was that, well, the place was an apartment: We ate and watched Netflix when we got even the slightest of urges. Also, it was weird giving automakers and PR firms a residential address whenever they needed to deliver a demo vehicle or send an event invitation. And when it came time to hire full-time employees, it was awkward informing them that we were working out of a cozy condominium.

Our next corporate goal couldn’t have been any clearer: We had to move to a proper office.

Already halfway into the renovation. The original place had been in much worse condition. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

One of the company’s owners, Christina Chua, drove around Barangay Kapitolyo in Pasig in search of an office space. She found one—a unit that had been occupied, I believe, by a nail spa. I am grateful to her for discovering the place, although I must admit I wasn’t very sure how it would turn out the first time I saw it in its state of disrepair.

Four months later, VISOR finally has a home it can truly call its own. By insisting on a real office, we hope to be able to show our readers that we’re serious with what we’re doing and that we’re here to stay. We hope to be able to prove to our clients that we don’t cut corners and that we always strive to do things the right way. But most of all, we want to be able to assure our team members and partners that they have a refuge here and that it is a warm and nurturing one.

May this office be a place of creativity, positivity and providence. And food and drinks. PHOTOS BY VERNON B. SARNE

Our eternal gratitude goes to the Almighty for blessing us with a home. And huge props to our interior designer Camyl Besinga for giving life to our vision. A big thank-you also to all our industry friends who took the time to visit us last Friday in spite of the threat of bad weather.

Thank heavens for friends, supporters, rivals. PHOTOS BY VERNON B. SARNE

When you’re just starting your business, it’s always nice to have the good guys in your corner. Salute!

Brothers and colleagues through the years. PHOTO FROM ARIEL DE JESUS

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.