At LoginRadius’s Canadian headquarters, there’s a tiki bar with a row of booze bottles on display in a social room; floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Canada Place, Vancouver’s harbour and points east, south and west; and then there’s Leo, a 15-week-old Cane Corso-Bullmastiff cuddling up against a visitor’s legs.
It all adds up to what a burgeoning tech firm hopes is the kind of work environment that will attract the best and brightest in a Canadian tech landscape increasingly crowded by giants like Amazon, Microsoft and Apple.
LoginRadius, a developer and manager of online customer identity platforms, recently ended its challenge of finding a new and larger office space in Vancouver. The company also has a small branch office in Toronto and several small global satellite offices.
In Vancouver, its 52 staff now work in an 11,000-square-foot space on the eighth and top floor of 815 West Hastings, a building in the downtown financial heart. They moved in just two months ago.
Postmedia recently toured the office and heard from management and staff who helped to distil down a few of the important office elements and amenities they think will attract and keep the best tech workers. (Management says the average age of the staff is younger than 30, and 70 per cent of the staff use a company-provided transit pass to commute to work.)
The tour starts in what the staff call the fun area. It’s a spacious room with broad windows facing West Hastings Street below. A couple of video game chairs (without the video games) are set next to the window near a row of pub-style high tables. There’s a foosball set and table tennis nearby. There are a couple couches. The pride and joy clearly is the well-stocked bamboo and thatch tiki bar on display against the western wall.
“Research does say that every couple of hours you (should) move around and interact with other people,” says Ajoy Anand, LoginRadius’s vice-president of finance and operations. “That is how you’re more productive.”
He says they want people to use the fun area to decompress, while it also provides the various departments a place to mingle. “Everybody knows each other,” he says.
Yeah, but is having an open bar a good idea for a workplace?
“We don’t have a lot rules, but I don’t see people taking advantage of the laxness of that,” says Ian Bell, the company’s marketing director, and Leo’s dad.
He says they don’t have to babysit staff or monitor the tiki bar throughout the day.
“If somebody was knockdown drunk at 2:30 in the afternoon, that would be a problem,” he says. “We haven’t had that happen.”
Anand quickly adds that they have two people on staff who are certified to serve alcohol and they often hire professional bartenders for events in the space.
After the company leased the space, Anand says they removed roughly 15 offices and 30 walls.
They wanted an open concept without cubicles or walled-in offices so staff could discuss work without moving into meeting rooms. Staff work in such close proximity that you can lean over to see your neighbour’s screen.
“(Staff) can communicate to each other,” he says. “It is a team environment. Our teams sit together, whether it’s the sales team or marketing team, so we skip a lot of meetings that way — if it’s a five-minute (discussion).”
The office has a small, typical kitchen in the core of the space.
“The big difference (from the old office) is this openness and collaborative approach,” said Rakesh Soni, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “People are all sitting together with accessibility to everything. No walls.”
All of the workstations are positioned along the exterior of the space, giving full views and access to the natural light from the floor-to-ceiling windows.
The team hasn’t forgone separate offices for the bosses. Three corner offices are reserved for finance, the CTO and CEO. However, the offices are glass-walled and transparent.
There are several small, nondescript “phone booths” located in the centre of the L-shaped main office room. There are also a handful of meeting rooms with screens for video conferencing. Various other screens are set up around the space. One has sports highlights on it, the others show real-time metrics central to LoginRadius’s objectives, including website traffic and sales leads — for everyone’s eyes.
Everyone in the building has access to a pleasant rooftop patio with picnic tables and barbecues and views of the city, although there’s nobody up there at 11:30 a.m. on what turns out to be the first nice day in what feels like weeks.
“We also have lots of places where you can sit and be quiet by yourself,” Bell says. “That is to counteract the downside of the open office, which is if you ever need to sit down and concentrate and write something and not be bothered, you need a place to go.”
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