Future of Work

How HubSpot infuses its culture into its offices

HubSpot – 25 First Street in East Cambridge, and a newly opened R&D hub at 2 Canal Park

Many people view HubSpot as one of Boston’s pillar companies. Having gone public in 2014, the company has one of the city’s largest tech conferences each year with Inbound, and its alumni continually pop up with some of the area’s more innovative startups including InsightSquared, Drift, and Tettra.

The company is also one of the city’s fastest growing businesses: It has 1,300 employees globally and recently expanded from its current headquarters on First Street in Cambridge to more space in the same neighborhood at 2 Canal Park. Oh, and it also has opened and/or expanded offices in New Hampshire, Dublin, Sydney, and Singapore.

We recently caught up with Katie Burke, HubSpot’s Vice President of Culture and Experience, to find out how the company keeps its space flexible as it adds more employees, and how it uses its office to impart the culture that is so vital to HubSpot’s mission in both its original headquarters and it’s global outposts.

Why did HubSpot pick Cambridge as its headquarters? What are the advantages of having an office in Boston?

Boston is home to one of our founders, Brian Halligan, and the adopted home of our co-founder and CTO, Dharmesh Shah. They met at MIT Sloan and both decided to “go big or go home” in Boston, and they haven’t looked back since. We have been in The Davenport, a former furniture factory in East Cambridge, since 2010, and we were in the Cambridge Innovation Center before that.

The advantages of Boston include access to the great talent that comes out of the colleges and universities located here, a highly livable city, and a tech community that’s rapidly growing in the right direction — I’m bullish on Boston at the moment, as is our entire leadership team.

What are some pretty interesting facts about your office space?

For one, our rooms are named after folks who inspire us, including the 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox (not-so-fun fact: the Ellsbury room didn’t open until after he had already become a Yankee). Other rooms are named after people we admire and appreciate, including Amelia Earhart, Robert Kraft, Maya Angelou, and several of our customers.

The coffee garden (named after Grace Hopper) includes a barista and a self-serve area with amazing coffee from local vendor Barismo every day. Recently, our executives took turns filling in for the baristas for our Coffee for a Cause initiative, which raised money for The Possible Project in Cambridge.

Our couches now feature dog pillows with the smiling faces of HubSpot dogs on them — we have a pet-friendly office, so if you visit, you’re likely to see a handful of our four-legged friends visiting, including CEO Brian Halligan’s dog Romeo, and a dog named Sprocket who belongs to a married couple that works at HubSpot.

What is a surprising area or product that people use in the office?

Our nap room and camping room get a lot of press, but what I like about both rooms is that they are used by employees daily to truly recharge. We have parents of newborns who use them for much-needed slivers of sleep, and we have bloggers and engineers who use the rooms to recharge their batteries or brainstorm quietly. They are some of my favorite spots in the office.

A funny thing most people don’t know is that our employees have a chat room called “GrubSpot” that announces when there is free food on the premises (usually leftovers from catered lunches or events for example). It’s one of the most popular groups at HubSpot — turns out free food always drives good conversation.

Dublin Office Chalk Wall

What are things that you are wasting time on in the office that you’d like to fix?

Our facilities team is amazing, so they work pretty quickly with teams when there is an issue or challenge, and the blessing and curse of a growing tech company is that we rarely have unused space issues. If anything, we are always in need of more meeting rooms and more time, so if you know where to find that, let me know.

One interesting product developed by our IT team is HubVend — custom vending machines on every floor to procure things like batteries, keyboards, or clickers for presentations, all of which you can “buy” with just a swipe of your HubSpot wristbands. Our employees love the convenience, and our IT team loves not being bugged for batteries on a daily basis, which is a win for everyone.

What are the tour stops that you show perspective employees and VIPs? What are the most heavily used parts of the office?

Most highly toured are the nap room, the coffee garden, the 3D printed beer taps, and the gym, aptly named Foxboro. I would say all of those rooms are indeed heavily trafficked. But we also have some more hidden, yet high traffic spots, including:

  • A awesome video game den created by our support team to play between shifts. It’s a new addition and the hidden gem in our office.
  • Nomad desks — we have long wooden desks for people to hold informal meetings, and you can often see new hires working there on their projects and/or people pulling up chairs to chat and connect informally.
  • Finally, because we are growing so fast globally the rooms with Telepresence are in super high demand. While not often part of the tour, they are often the  conference rooms that groups are most competitive in reserving — everyone wants to see the smiling faces of our Dublin, Singapore, Sydney, and Portsmouth teams!

Nomad Desks in Singapore

What’s the best product or object that you’ve purchased for the office?

We have a popcorn machine in the new space at 2 Canal that’s a huge hit. It also has an incredibly cool kitchen set up so we can host cooking demos with local chefs (we’re lining up some cool guests now).

My favorite purchases overall are the big screens used for our company FaceWall, which is features images and info on HubSpotters so you can get to know folks as you walk through our space. I also like the photo books showcasing our employees’ interests and talents in our waiting area, and the books that fill our library spaces in both offices. I wish I had more time to get through all of them, but I love that we have a Free Books Program for employees — they can order any book they want at anytime, so reading and learning from thought leaders such as Seth Godin to Nancy Duarte is easy and on the company dime.

How have you transitioned HubSpot’s famous culture to your other offices?

Our global offices reflect a combination of HubSpot’s global commitment to transparency, autonomy, and elements of local culture.

HubSpot Dublin

For example, our Dublin office features photography of Dublin doors and Irish nature photography, our Singapore office has a conference room named after the mythic Merlion and a custom mural of the city skyline, and our Sydney office has rooms named after Mabo, an Australian Aboriginal leader, and folks like Melanie Perkins, founder of Canva.

Our facilities team has done an incredible job creating a universal facilities brand with local flavor so all of our employees have great places to work globally.

Recently we highlighted WeWork’s unique office design. Learn more about that here.