No flickering fluorescent lighting or drab gray cubicles here—innovators need workspaces that are as dynamic, adaptable and open to collaboration as they are.
25 First St. | hubspot.com
HubSpot’s Cambridge headquarters is a sprawling compound. (It would have to be, since it houses 1,100 employees.) The central office is in the Davenport building—a former furniture factory built in 1860 that was repurposed as offices in 1987—and the main attraction is the atrium, with its exposed brick and enormous skylight four stories up—so high up, it feels like it’s not even there.
Despite its 1,000-plus staffers, the offices have the feel of a sleepy college apartment building. As you venture around the grounds, you’ll find workers sprawled out in cushioned booths, huddled in meeting rooms or hanging out in one of the numerous kitchens. Any space has the potential to be used for brainstorming.
That’s all part of HubSpot’s plan, according to public relations manager Ellie Botelho. “We want to make sure people are getting out of their element so they can talk to other team members or people who aren’t even on their team,” she explains. It’s easy to see how employees would bump into someone and settle into small talk that becomes a productive planning session—even if it happens to be in the office’s beer garden.
HubSpot’s trademark orange dominates the design. You’ll find orange couches, orange soda machines, orange beer taps and even orange phone booths. Because while there are a ton of amenities available—dry cleaning services, a dog-friendly environment, a camping room, a nap room, “Waffle Wednesday”—it’s all to help in HubSpot’s quest to reimagine and enhance the tools marketers use. Botelho says when employees feel comfortable in the space they inhabit, they do their finest work.
“Having the ability to move around in the office and change your own context really fits well with what we’re trying to do with our technology,” Botelho explains. “We really make it easy for people to work however they work best.”
275 Third St. | hopper.com
Were Edward Kendall—the namesake of Kendall Square—to set foot in the building that once housed his Kendall Boiler and Tank Company, he’d likely have a laundry list of questions about the company that now calls the charming brick structure home. Still, if he could wrap his mind around the open-office concept—not to mention the concept of commercial flight and the use of big data to improve the consumer flying experience—he’d find some old remnants of his business that would make him feel at home.
Hopper moved to 275 Third St. in 2012, and it’ll soon take over the entire building. The office retains the old wooden rafters from the tank company’s original design, and you’ll find some old, rusted gears around the space. “Being in this office is super cool,” says director of communications Brianna Schneider. “There’s so much history.”
But the work Hopper does is decidedly concerned with the future. Thanks to an archive of more than 1 trillion flight prices, Hopper offers travelers predictions of when they should buy and fly. “We can predict with 95 percent accuracy when you should buy your flight, up to a year in advance,” Schneider explains. Peering into the crystal ball of the byzantine airline industry takes a lot of teamwork, so Hopper’s office has an open floor plan that lets its tight-knit 25 employees collaborate easily. Each day, the whole staff breaks to have lunch together.
The closeness of the team and the amenities—movie screenings, a working Atari, a kitchen packed with more treats than a freshman’s dorm room—have lead to an incredibly low turnover and high morale. In a building that is on the National Register of Historic Places, Hopper is flying into the future.
1 Broadway | facebook.com/fbboston
There’s always the one that got away, and for many years in Cambridge, that special someone was Facebook. The world’s largest social media network was birthed in the dorm rooms of the city’s most famous institution of higher learning, but fled for the sunshine of Silicon Valley in 2004.
It seemed like a great opportunity to nurture a homegrown phenomenon had been lost. But a decade later, Facebook returned to its old stomping grounds and opened the Facebook Boston office in Kendall Square.
In the nearly three years since its opening, the office has grown from just seven employees to over 100 and now owns the entire eighth floor. Ryan Mack, Facebook Boston’s site lead, says the growth is due to the uniqueness of the area. “Boston continues to be one of the best markets for hiring talented senior engineers as well as all of the well-established universities in the area,” Mack says. Asked if there was any sentimentality about returning to Cambridge, he insists that the decision was primarily based on the depth of the area’s talent pool.
The Facebook Boston team focuses on engineering, and their stated goal is to build infrastructure that makes development at Facebook more efficient. They do this through three areas: networking, product infrastructure and development infrastructure.
The physical space blends the classic startup feel with hints of Boston. Meeting rooms are adorned with names like “P-Town” or “Dunkin’ Donuts.” At the center of the office is a replica of the bar from Cheers, complete with a cut-out of Woody Harrelson. The startup aspects include exposed ceilings, glossy cement floors and soft-seating areas all over the place.
So, why does the office of one of the biggest companies on earth—an office that includes a full-size, cafeteria-style kitchen—want employees to feel like they’re still toiling away in a garage?
“The goal is to get to the next few billion people,” Mack explains. “In that respect, there’s actually a lot of work left to do. We try to keep this ethos that we’re still in that start-up mode. It’s an unfinished project.”
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