I’ve worked in some very large organisations, some with thousands of people and others with depots and branches spread across Europe. For much of my working life I had considered myself as someone who enjoyed the corporate life. I found a home in the organisation and the office politics (even though I railed against it).
Now, I am no longer in a corporation. My business is very small, a micro business in the modern parlance. For much of the time I am the organisation and, unless I fall out with myself, which is highly possible, there is no politics to entertain me.
Not surprisingly, many of the people I associate with are cast from the same mould. They have worked at senior levels in some household names, large companies where they too have enjoyed the cut and thrust of corporate life. Like me they have popped out of the other end and are looking at alternative things to do.
This is how I find myself, once again, frequenting cafes across the region. They are the easiest place to meet someone as you can always find one conveniently located between your two starting points.
The odd thing is though that our cafe’s of choice are not the corporate ones but rather the small, friendly and niche places. Yes, I still frequent the coffee chains as they are often easier to describe and are often located near major trunk routes but, given a choice they are avoided.
My latest meeting was held at the Kirkley Cafe, Thorneyford Farm, near Ponteland, well known as a great place for cyclists to stop off when on a ride (my colleague is a keen cyclist, as was I once). As its location suggests it is located on a working farm, in an renovated farm building. Its rustic location is enhanced by a roaring fire in a potbelly stove, its eclectic mix of furniture and excellent home made sweet and savoury food.
Why then do two people, imbued in corporatism, choose such a place, the antithesis of where we have worked? I’m not sure. We enjoyed the atmosphere, the homely feeling of the place and the fact it was quirky and individual. Perhaps we have both craved for something less corporate all this time.
At least it shows that there is a place in this world for all kinds of businesses.