My Backpack Office

By Sonia Panchal

Sonia Panchal
“The future of work isn’t one set environment or place. It’s anywhere you need to be and work.” – Sonia Panchal, manager, Public Relations, International Operations, Xerox

With my trusted backpack, I can work from anywhere in the world. When I’m in the park, waiting for a friend, standing in a supermarket queue, on the tube (always an opportunity to make peace with the inbox), from a coffee shop; an agency’s office, home, airport lounge, absolutely anywhere. And this is all possible because I carry my office on my back, in what is an updated nineties statement: a backpack. The backpack has turned out to be a transformative piece of kit, housing all I need for a working office: two phones, iPad, laptop, charger, notebook, loads of pens and a small pharmacy to combat the allergy season.

Leading and managing public relations across multiple geographies is possible with internet access, a charged phone, laptop, notepad, pen(s), a cool, calm and collected approach, and bags of common sense. My PR role involves setting regional communications strategy and execution, and ensure our international business priorities support our marketing efforts.

In this type of role, you don’t switch off. Outside work hours, whether on a lunch break with colleagues, out with friends or visiting family, I always take a sneaky peek at my phone because you never know who in the business or the media is trying to contact you. And, of course, it’ll be that one time you don’t check your phone that someone is trying to desperately get hold of you for a statement.

My office is in my backpack, but the ideal working space is Xerox’s International Operations HQ in Uxbridge, U.K., with lots of tech, multiple screens, access to amazing print technology (a not so subtle plug) and humorous office banter. We’ve recently had an office refurbishment which means that the communications and marketing teams don’t have allocated desks but hot desks, touchdown desks and lockers. This allows for more collaborative working as we sit and interact with different colleagues every day, leading to ideas, insights and perspectives we may not have considered before. And this is what I absolutely love about the new working environment; how it engenders collaboration and facilitates diversity of thought through a range of different opinions and outlooks.

Our new collaborative working space is shared from time to time with different partner agencies and we welcome it. Public relations agency team members work from our offices once a month and I work from their offices from time to time, when I feel the lure of the bright city lights of London. This new way of working and sharing space has helped our agency connect with and understand the Xerox business in a way it hadn’t before, and overall enabled us to create a collaborative, deeper and intimate working relationship.

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There are times when you really need to crack on with a piece of writing or a plan, or are expecting a delivery or just need to be at home, making home the ideal work environment. In my experience Xerox is incredibly supportive in letting you work from where you need to be, and this has helped facilitate a better work-life balance.

At Xerox, we talk about ‘setting the page free’; our digital and paper worlds are colliding and we expect to move through these worlds freely. We recognise the importance of the idea of the ‘page’, whether printed or digital, and its value as communication. Team Xerox is living and breathing what our customers and partners are going through and that’s what has and continues to enable us to innovate the way the world communicates, connects and works.

The future of work isn’t one set environment or place. It’s anywhere you need to be and work from, and having the equipment to help you set up your working office quickly. And that’s why I like to carry my office on my back, in my trusted backpack.

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  1. Edwin Jongsma September 20, 2017 -

    Setting the Office free in a Backpack! Great idea Sonia. My backpack arrived a few weeks ago, so we can share experiences!!

  2. Sonia Panchal September 21, 2017 -

    Thanks Edwin. Setting the office free, organising your life and work, and taking care of your back! Let me know how it goes for you!

  3. trish December 6, 2017 -

    I, like you, have my office in my backpack – and in Toronto, we have the same open office concept. We don’t have assigned desks, we do have lockers, and there are MANY collaborative spaces to work from. I love the idea of not having an assigned desk – it allows me to sit with people I would never typically interact with on a day to day basis.

    My backpack? Laptop, 2 phones, notepad, tons of pens and markers, an umbrella and some protein bars. If only I could figure out how to carry my Starbucks in my backpack.

    Cheers to the mobile worker.


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