We hit the half-year mark at Monocle with a promise to come good on things we’ve noticed work well for our business. Off the back of our Quality of Life Conference in Madrid, we’ve made a commitment to expand our line-up of events. While we’ve always tried to host as many cocktail parties, book signings and retail adventures as possible, we’ve noticed that our summits are more than just an opportunity for academics and entrepreneurs to talk about policies or business plans: they’re a chance for our audience to swap stories, seek investment and, in many cases, reconnect from previous events. If you’ve got your diary to hand, you might want to note that we’ll be convening a set of conferences on retail in the US and Europe this autumn and also looking at a city-focused event in Asia in November. You can drop a note to us via the email addresses below or subscribe to ensure a front-row seat.
If you’ve passed through Hong Kong International Airport over the past few weeks and made your way towards gate 63, you will have noticed a massive Monocle logo stretching across a sizeable chunk of retail space. This project marks not only our first move into travel retail but also a broader effort to be part of the solution to the poor state of magazine and book retail afflicting too many rail hubs and airports. For HKG we’re working with France’s Lagardère group (you might be familiar with its Relay brand) and launching a completely new concept for travel retail. It puts the focus on delivering a premium experience packed with smart reads, travel musts and a full line-up of both classic and special-edition Monocle products. Hopefully this will mark the start of a global roll-out of similar outlets aimed at restoring much-needed dignity to the experience of buying books, magazines and newspapers as you make your way around the world.
Moving from the printed page to the digital world, we’ve been going through a rethink in terms of how we deliver news and features in a more timely, elegant and engaging way to your favourite electronic devices. It all started six months ago with the debut of the Monocle Weekend Edition on Saturdays and then progressed to an overhaul of the Monocle Minute. In parallel we were working on a relaunch of Monocle 24 that should have been pumping through your speakers and headphones by this point – but we took a summer pause on this project to bring the daily digital offer into line and chart a more seamless course. In the weeks to come you’ll start to hear some new jingles and a fresh set of programmes. All this will be in step with an expansion of our bulletin offer. (If you’re not already receiving our daily editions then please sign up at monocle.com/subscribe/newsletters.)
Perhaps not surprisingly, all of these shifts to our own editorial output got us thinking about the changing pace of the work day, how we adapt after a few weeks spent in the sun, how efficient or inefficient we are when we’re not close to a desk and colleagues, and the best way to manage a business when social and environmental pressures are weighing on a landscape that’s already under stress. It’s for these reasons that we decided to devote most of this issue to ways of working rather than focus solely on entrepreneurship, as we’ve done in previous September issues. Aside from all the good analysis and reportage you’ll find in this issue, start-up culture (in all its guises, not just technology) will now get its very own magazine in the shape of The Entrepreneurs – a spin-off from our successful audio series on Monocle 24. It hits newsstands in most key markets on 26 September.
Until then we hope you enjoy this fresh take on September and find inspiration in how the French are rethinking national service (while not losing their ability to throw a good party) and the German food retailer putting design and sustainable materials at the heart of its expansion programme. We also make the case for more hobbies.
Before signing off, a thought on how you might want to make your way to work over the coming months and years – rail services permitting. Monocle has been lobbying for a renaissance in overnight rail travel for well over a decade. After we recently awarded a prize to Austrian state railways for its leading position in getting more people to travel for work on its overnight trains (you get comfy couchettes, it’s better for the environment and there are no early wake-up calls for 06.00 flights), other rail networks have started to take note. At the time of going to press, Switzerland’s SBB announced that it’s looking at reinstating overnight train services. It’s recognised that it can serve business travellers who see the upside in travelling while they slumber and waking up a few blocks from where their morning meetings are taking place. We hope that other operators follow suit – cue Canada’s Via and Amtrak in the US.
If we don’t bump into you on a Hamburg or Vienna platform then we look forward to seeing you at some of our upcoming events this autumn. All questions and tips can be forwarded to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or my colleague Hannah Grundy (email@example.com). Cheers and thank you for your support.