TheSquareFoot was founded in 2011 by former commercial real estate professionals on a mission to improve the office leasing process with technology. Their online search technology makes it easy to search for the perfect office, and their transparent brokerage means businesses get the space they deserve. “We’re a relatively new business, just under five years old, with a team of 20,” says CEO Jonathan Wasserstrum. “Being a smaller and more nimble company allows us to differentiate ourselves in many ways, but one area we’re proud of is our transparent and community-driven office culture.”
(Photo courtesy of Jonathan Wasserstrum)
The company’s culture is evident in how they organize their office space. “Every employee, including myself and the executives, works in a collaborative, open environment without offices to encourage company-wide communication, regardless of seniority or function. It encourages daily check-ins, collaboration and creativity,” says Wasserstrum. This type of work environment does come with some problems. Lacking private offices, employees are subject to a broad range of distractions, “from casual conversations to eating noisy snacks to our personal favorite, Nintendo 64 breaks.” As fun as this all sounds, this rising company does have work to do.
Just as they found a technology solution for their clients seeking commercial real estate, TheSquareFoot employed a messaging app to facilitate communication in their own busy office space. The app, Slack, lets users create virtual private offices. “Our development team doesn’t need separate conference rooms to go over last week’s models; they can simply meet in their designated chat. Rather than everyone talking across the room and creating excess noise and a mash of conversation, we keep it online and organized,” says Wasserstrum.
“In Slack, we are able to create a private sphere without threatening the sense of community. For our team, it’s personal relationships that form the web of a team-wide sense of connection. Nobody ever has to feel excluded because everyone is equally accessible on Slack. To maximize our sense of community, we encourage everyone to contribute to the general chat with ideas, articles work-related or not and funny things that have happened to them during the day. Additionally, our Slack avatars are not headshots but whatever we feel best reflects our personality — Toad from Mario Kart, Kevin from Home Alone, Louis Stevens from Even Stevens, etc.”
For TheSquareFoot, this app has fostered a productive, creative and sociable company culture. “We knew going in that it would help to organize inter-office communication and serve as a place to share documents, collaborations and conversations,” says Wasserstrum, “but the additional benefits for our team on a more personal level have been a wonderful bonus.”
This article was written by Gillian Burdett for Small Business Pulse