Squarespace has been praised for allowing its users to create websites of simple yet sophisticated designs. The company began when the Squarespace platform was launched back in 2004. Since then, it has grown to become a major company with over 2 million paying customers worldwide. Initially it held four offices in different locations, but the company merged these together when it moved into the current Manhattan office in March 2016.
“This building was built in the 1920’s and was used as a printing factory, which is a fun connection with Squarespace as the next generation publishing company,” says Vice President Kris Passet. “The design is minimal and fluid, which reflects our brand characteristics. We use an open floor plan, which is fairly common for tech startups to make sure our team members don’t turn their backs on each other. The idea is to have a creative environment that promotes collaborations among people who work here.”
The office was designed by architecture firm A+I, but founder and CEO Anthony Casalena specified finishing details down to what type of wood to select for the panels, or even what color paints to use. “We are a design company. I think it was joy for him to do it, but it was also a lot of work,” says Passet. Of course, these choices were not made by the founder alone. Casalena made the final decisions based on feedback gathered from the company’s 400 plus office employees about what kind of environment they wanted the new office to be. This shows a strong commitment on the part of the leader in regards to the office transfer.
he new office that came about in this way is of a sophisticated, elegant, and minimal design. It is clean, exact, and thought has gone into every corner. The goal is to be “a collaborative space for adults,” and sure enough, pinball games and other items commonly seen in tech companies are nowhere in sight. “It is a reflection of the design of our product. It’s important to only have what you need.”
According to her, all of this is because “I spend more time here than I do at home.” Job changes are frequent within the tech industry, which means the amount of time a person spends in one company is short compared to other industries. Squarespace recognizes that it is essential to optimize the employee experience and create an environment where people can enjoy their work.
Led by Passet, the facility team constantly circulates through the company and interacts with employees, collecting feedback which is then passed on to Casalena. What aspects employees are dissatisfied within the office, what additional things are necessary, and so on. “I want them to enjoy working here and have a sense of pride about it,” explains Passet.
It has been two years since the company moved into the new space, but employee numbers have increased at a faster rate than expected, and plans to expand the space are already in motion. Squarespace has a corporate culture of holding many meetings, and with offices in Dublin and Portland, the company wants to enable conference calls in every room. It is also looking to build a conference room for 50 people in order to accommodate divisions that have grown significantly. Squarespace has the infrastructure to receive employee feedback and improve flexibly.
There are other cases that serve as examples of this as well. “One of our perks is that we cater lunch Monday through Friday, and it’s a really fantastic hot lunch with a salad bar. But because there are so many people, laying out the food so that there were multiple avenues was one shift we had to make, and another was extending the catering hours. We also laid out food on every single floor for people that might not be able to leave their desks for so long.” (Passet)
The company also periodically hosts events to encourage collaboration among employees. Passet explains, ”One of the things we do for example on a monthly basis, is have a team host a happy hour event. They will be the ones behind the bar serving drinks and getting to know one another. They also have carte blanche over whatever they want to serve that day. They have a budget, and within that they can choose what to serve, they can decorate, they can have a theme, they can do whatever they want. It’s a really nice opportunity to bring people over, and to connect with people you wouldn’t otherwise connect with.” Additionally, an internal event called “sessions” where each team explains their current projects to other departments is also held periodically.
How will Squarespace continue to evolve in the future? “I’m really excited for some of the work space furniture that is being enhanced by technology,” says Passet. For example, conference rooms lined with sensors, like the one she recently experienced at the MIT Media Lab. The room was programmed so that the speaker’s desk lit up, which could be utilized in a way that offers introverts an opportunity to talk.
Squarespace is led by leaders who listen to their employees and care for them on a deeper level. Its office reformations have helped the company elevate its brand image and continue daily progress towards an “exciting future”.
text: Yuki Miyamoto
photo: Ryo Suzuki