From the Editor: November 2016

From the Editor: November 2016

Here in the newsroom, the expression “working from home” is always rendered in air quotes, with a wink-wink, nudge-nudge tossed in to make sure the point is made. It’s not that we don’t trust our colleague to use his or her time “working from home” in the most efficient way possible. Well, actually, we don’t.

But that’s because we know home is full of distractions — kids or spouses or roommates interrupting, an intolerable drip-drip-drip from the sink downstairs, robocalls from “Heather from Card Services,” a mouse in the wall, suddenly urgent personal grooming tasks — that are astoundingly effective at derailing a train of thought.

The newsroom, of course, is awash in distractions as well — multiple conversations going on at the same time, multiple phones ringing, the screech of the police scanner, a customer at the front counter, a delivery at the loading dock, email and social media clamoring for attention, the anguished wail and blue language that signal a computer crash, the threatening rumble of a deadline looming ever closer.

But the newsroom has something else, something vital, something working at home often lacks: a sense of common goals and a sense of shared sacrifice, not to mention technical support, moral support and the occasional gentle (or perhaps not so gentle) reminders from co-workers that it might be best at this juncture for one to get over oneself.

It’s those kinds of distractions that Chip Brettell, an engineer and former Thayer School of Engineering instructor, was missing. One of the first users of The Engine Room, the new co-working space in White River Junction, Brettell had been working at his North Pomfret home for a year. His internet connection was slow, there was no one to help him suss out computer issues, and he badly needed to network. As Brettell told staff writer Aimee Caruso for this month’s cover story, “I was looking for the ability to throw ideas at people and get feedback. … I really need a place to come and interact with people.”

The Engine Room aims to be that place.

A project of Tip Top Pottery owner Amy Robb and local redeveloper Mike Davidson, The Engine Room is one of several co-working efforts underway in the Upper Valley. Housed in a hip, airy 4,000-square-foot space downtown, it’s outfitted with desks and tables, conference and “breakout” rooms, high-speed internet, a kitchen, lockers and showers, a copier, printer and mail service and, speaking of distractions, it has its own bar.

“I thrive on people coming together and creating energy and synergy and connecting and doing something with that,” Robb told Caruso.

It’s time for everybody get to back to work.

Ernie Kohlsaat

Author: Ernie Kohlsaat

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