By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Jan 20, 2010 at 9:59 AM

I'm not usually happy when my week fills up with back-to-back meetings all over town. But this time, it all worked out.

Our office, like much of the East Side, shut down yesterday after the fire at the Pizza Man building. Even though the OnMilwaukee.com world headquarters are a block away, a smoky smell, not to mention police tape around our parking lot, made it easier to work remotely.

My colleagues Jeff Sherman, Bobby Tanzilo and I set up shop at Whole Foods down the street, using the free wi-fi to plan out February's articles for our upcoming Bar Month. Then, after a 1 p.m., meeting, I simply worked from home on my laptop.

This morning, I did my weekly radio appearance on 96.5 WKLH at 8. Now, I'm killing time before a meeting in the Third Ward at 10, then I will head to a lunch meeting on the East Side. Between each commitment, I'm working remotely, right now at Bella Caffe, via wi-fi.

The whole week has been this way, and there's no end in sight.

In some ways, it's a refreshing change to get out of the office and get some work done in peace. In other ways, I feel detached from my coworkers, talking via e-mail and instant messenger. It makes me wonder, do we even need an office?

I think, but I'm not sure, the answer is yes.

Even though the idea of telecommuting and working by laptop is occasionally appealing, part of what makes our office tick is the human interaction, the bouncing of ideas off each other and the random thoughts that come from actually seeing each other face to face.

While I can technically do my job away from my other 17 coworkers, I wouldn't want to. Not always.

The mobile office is appealing short-term alternative, but long term, I need to see my company, up close and personal.

Andy is the founder and co-owner of OnMilwaukee.com. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.