The guy says: "Meet me at my office." You arrive at a posh address and are greeted by a receptionist seated behind an imposing desk. Then the person you've come to see rushes in late. You go to his tasteful yet impersonal office. He sheepishly pulls out of his briefcase a family photo, some brochures, and a paperweight and arranges them on the empty desk.
What gives? You might be in one of the 80 offices of HQ, Headquarters Cos., a chain that rents out office space by the hour or by the month. Clients pay from $15 an hour for a modest San Francisco setup to $15,000 a month for a lavish New York suite. HQ boasts a long list of big clients, including Apple Computer and Hershey Foods, that need a business pied-a-terre. But it also serves small fry who only have fancy nameplates. They're magnetized, by the way, so they pop right off when the office's next occupant sets up shop.