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Addressing the Address Change

March 8, 2012
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When we were putting the finishing touches on the March issue of Workforce Management, something donned on me at the last minute, as is often the case for me on deadline: We had no memo in the magazine about our then-upcoming move to 150 N. Michigan Ave. (For the record, we officially moved into our new Chicago home on March 12.)

So I meandered—OK, scuttled; can't move slowly on deadline—into our publisher's office. Knock, knock, knock. "Hey, Todd, quick question: Where should we put the notice in the magazine about the move to our new office?"

He looked at me, somewhat incredulously, and said, "Um, why would we want to do that?"

I could feel my right eyebrow rising up in a querulous manner as I was about to ask if he understood my question. After all, why wouldn't we announce our move?

I think he picked up on my decidedly dumbfounded disposition and continued, "It's not necessary. Who uses the mail these days anyway? Ten years ago, I would have done it for sure, but now, do people really care where a magazine is located? Plus, mail gets forwarded."

Hmm. I hadn't thought about it, but he was right. In this digital age, what's in a magazine's address? And for that matter, does it matter where most other businesses are located? Sure, restaurants, grocery stores, dry cleaners and big-box stores notwithstanding, it's almost as if today's companies are on the "cloud" as tech people like to say regarding being able to store data via the Internet. In a way, physical addresses have become inconsequential in today's marketplace. When was the last time you called tech support for a computer problem and got someone based in the U.S.? Probably been awhile, eh? I won't get into the pros and cons of outsourcing, but as long as your question was answered, does it matter if the person was in Mumbai or Manhattan? Hey, I said as long as your question was answered.

When we contact people today, it's done via emails or instant messages or text messages or phone calls, and if we have to send something out, it's often done with some express service company. After all, tracking letters and packages is often a must with identity theft running wild, and it's always nice to be able to say to your Aunt Betsy: "I just checked the tracking number and it says you signed for the package on March 1; not sure why you didn't get the fuzzy slippers I sent. Let me give them a call. Oh, you just remembered that you did receive them? Great." And while greeting cards are still popular—some 7 billion are sent every year—an estimated 500 million e-cards are sent annually as well, cutting into the traditional paper transit, according to the Greeting Card Association.

And stats from the U.S. Postal Service confirm that we aren't sending mail the way we used to. Last year, 168 billion pieces of mail were delivered—the lowest amount since 1992. The percentage of that total that was unwanted junk mail? I dunno, but let's just say the Lorax wouldn't be pleased.

With all that said, I am going to miss our location at 360 N. Michigan Ave. It's a historic building, built in 1923 as the London Guarantee and Accident Building. It came to be a year after the first issue of our predecessor, The Journal of Personnel Research, debuted. The structure sits on the site of the original Fort Dearborn, which was built in 1803, along the Chicago River, and the Battle of Fort Dearborn took place on the grounds in 1812.

I worked in those digs since I returned to Crain in 2006, a few years after the company moved into the building. I'll miss the view of the river, especially when the Michigan Avenue bridge goes up in the summer to allow the tall ships to go by, the reflections off the Trump building across the street, and the ornate, don't-make-'em-like-they-used-to lobby. I'll also always remember the summer of 2010 when Transformers: Dark of the Moon was shot outside of the building; it was hard not to peek in on the action. I still don't know what hiding behind a glass bus stop is going to do for you when a 10-ton Decepticon is barreling down on you. But that's just me.

Our new office, the former Smurfit-Stone Building, has its charms as well. We're across the street from Millennium Park (a Bean's throw from the Stone?), and the building is much newer. Construction was completed in 1984. It also has a very cool and unusual shape at the top, like a diamond, but it clearly doesn't have the history that 360 N. Michigan does. Then, again, maybe my allergies won't be as bad in the new building. Perhaps change is good, and, after all, the new building did play a significant part in the 1987 flick Adventures in Babysitting, so it can't be all that bad.

So perhaps the magazine's address is of no importance to you, but it still means a lot to me.


By the way, we'd love to hear your thoughts about the 90th website. Feel free to use our Forums or send us an email and tell us what you think. And keep an eye out for our Workforce Impact and Pop Culture bracket challenges that are scheduled to debut next week. If you need help making choices, we have an all-star cast of bracketlogists ready to help. Until then, we'll keep making history.

James Tehrani is copy desk chief at Workforce Management. To comment, email editors@workforce.com.

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