We first noticed The Roger Magazine when The Huffington Post included it as a source in a roundup of interesting startup office spaces. We were confused about why we’d never heard of it– the online magazine, distributed via Issuu, is gorgeous and professional looking, even on our cracked, dirty Macbook screen.
Turns out we’d never heard of it because it’s actually a small side project from four New York City women, all of whom have full time jobs, and who work on the magazine in their free time. You’d never know that just by looking at it, though–the whole thing looks so damn professional.
The Roger hinges on a simple mission: we spend the majority of our days at work, so why do we shy away from developing a communal identity, one that is defined by where we work and who we work with? “Everybody works,” reads the mag’s mission statement. “Our mission is to transform the way you think about it. At The Roger, we believe that what you do is as important as the poise and style with which you do it.”
The magazine focuses on the interior design of interesting office spaces in New York, and their first two issues have prominently featured many startup office spaces, including Yelp, Betaworks, Refinery29 and Etsy.
“I’m an investment banker, I work at Tumblr–those are communal identities,” Ms. Baggio told Betabeat via phone. “So the intention was never really to be focused so much on startups–it just so happens that those types of companies are the ones taking the overall paradigm shift in the workplace much more seriously by putting a lot of resources into it to showcase who you are, how to make employees happy.”
The magazine is definitely bootstrapped–there are only four people on staff, two of whom write all of the articles. Ms. Baggio works full-time at First Round-funded startup Axial Market, a marketplace for privately held companies. She produces The Roger in her spare time along with friends Alexis Romanoff, Sam Deitch and Joanna Curran. The team of four women fund it entirely themselves and work out of the Nola Picture offices, a commercial production company in the Flatiron. “They’re wonderfully generous to us and we’re grateful for it,” said Ms. Baggio.
Of course, we couldn’t let Ms. Baggio off the phone without asking her to divulge some of her favorite New York startup spaces.
“Obviously a space like Horizon Media is just incredible,” she said. “I think their space is just breathtaking from a design standpoint. Big Fuel has a great space because you can’t really come in and claim a space. Most offices are still reserving some personal space, be it a walless cube or a desk, but Big Fuel is the first one that we encountered where you literally walk in every day and it’s up to you to pick a spot.”
As for office design tips, Ms. Baggio says that the open and collaborative layout is very much “in” right now, but it’s important to have alternatives to that environment so that employees can feel like they’re part of a team, but also have privacy. In open layouts, it’s important to have quiet spaces where employees who can’t work with a lot of noise can escape to, as well as designated rooms where employees can make private phone calls, she said.
“The devil is in the details,” said Ms. Baggio. “I think some of the cooler spaces take the time to put in their own little sense of character. Things like having blue jelly beans because everything in the office is blue–tiny, quirky things that really make a difference and feel like you’re in a space that belongs to you and your team. It sort of draws everybody in together and makes the space more than just the workspace and really a place for a team.”
Hey Observer overlords, think we could get some jellybeans up in here?