WorkSpace Connect is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Working in a Van Down by the River


An older knowledge worker working from a van
Image: InsideCreativeHouse -
One of the more iconic SNL skits has Chris Farley playing a motivational speaker who tries to scare two children away from drugs. In his bombastic back and forth, Farley repeatedly uses his experience of living in a van down by the river as a deterrent from bad life choices. One day, with the help of a new concept car, not only will you be able to live in a van down by the river, but also work in one.
The idea of working out of your van (or camper) isn’t new. Mobile migrant workers, or “workampers,” are people who travel and work out of their cars, often taking on gig jobs (Amazon warehouse, seasonal jobs, etc.) to make ends meet. Older, semi-retired individuals have long favored this work and living arrangement, as it allows them to travel and work on a flexible/as-they-want schedule. But since the pandemic, wanderlust has led some young professionals and knowledge workers to take an interest in the idea.
And now, office furniture maker Herman Miller has given the idea of working on the go/in your car a new coat of paint: combining its Cosm office pod with Nissan’s NV350 Caravan business van. As an office, the van features a workstation/pod with a built-in desk that can be pulled out of the van for those scenic work moments. Herman Miller even appeals to the new ethos of the on-the-road knowledge worker, in his press release stating, “there is a new emerging workforce that is moving beyond the local Starbucks and working nomadically from exotic locations.”
A car that doubles as an office is an intriguing idea, but widespread use seems questionable at best. Vans like these might be helpful for sales professionals who travel a lot or frontline workers who need to meet clients where they are. But what about the 20-something-year-old employee bored working from home? I doubt organizations would simply hand them the car keys and say hit the road.
Though I doubt we’ll see a fleet of knowledge workampers any time soon, the concept car does highlight the remote work and work-from-anywhere trend is going well beyond just video meetings and productivity tools. While cloud and videoconferencing providers were the first to capitalize on the shift to remote working, other companies are now realizing they can provide products and services to fit the remote work lifestyle, whether on the road or at home.
You can find a host of lists online (for example, here and here) about the best products for decking out your home office; these lists often include items beyond the remote-work technology staples like motivational posters/displays, comfy shoes and slippers, energy supplements, and something called a migraine stick. It seems only a matter of time before the remote work trend trickles down even further into the mainstream.
One day, I might walk into the grocery store with a display for “WFH Water” or energy bars with claims of beating those post-lunch WFH slogs. And maybe then, this can be my afternoon snack, as I write my next article out of a work van parked at my local forest preserve — naturally down by the river.