Wistia is located in Cambridge, MA, near Central Square. They have an awesome office. One of the things we love at Robin is an awesome office. And we love to learn about how they came to be, which is why we asked Chris Savage, co-founder & CEO, to give us a tour and answer some questions. Come on along with us in this recap of what we saw and learned. We think you’ll enjoy this as much as we did.
At a glance
- 15,000 square ft office space
- five year lease from MIT
- two floors
- six conference rooms
- thirty two employees
“We’ve always tried to mix work and life,” Chris says. Employees often cook together in the kitchen. “You interact with people [in the kitchen] you wouldn’t interact with otherwise.” Take the pinball machine, foosball table, or ping pong table, for example. “To be creative you need to have breaks, you need to have space to take time off so this kind of stuff is really valuable; people competing against each other, all that good stuff.”
Why this building?
“When we picked the space we were also looking for a space that would enable us to host events,” Chris explains. “We realized if we were to rent another place out it’s super expensive and less likely for us to do it.” Chris explained that things like the bleachers within the building’s large square footage better enables them to explore new venues for their company, such as the Wistia Fest hosted last May.
Where they do the work
Seating arrangements, or pods as Chris calls them, made up of three to four desks are not grouped out by task or even department. “We will randomly shift them every month and a half or so,” Chris explains. “So you end up sitting near different people and working with people who you aren’t working with everyday on your squad or whatever. Forces us to rely on HipChat.” HipChat and Trello are office favorites but there’s a magnetic whiteboard in a corner that looks like a real life version of Trello. “We’ve always found basically if we don’t put things in a physical space where people can see them, it’s just a very, very different thing. Like even right now you can look at this [wall] and ask a question but if you are looking at a Trello board it’s harder to know where to start. Most of us live on Trello here but this [whiteboard] is a very different thing.”
What they sit on
All of Wistia’s conference rooms are set up with couches, chairs, and the occasional ottoman instead of a traditional long wood table because comfort sees more use. “When they’re set up like this people actually use them,” Chris expands. He also notes the quality of the couches, starting out with IKEA furniture and then moving in another direction. “I understand now why there are industrial versions of furniture,” he says. Currently, they use CB2 and Herman Miller. “One thing we found is having the couches near the desks is actually really important because if you want to work with somebody and you want get a different space it’s just like whatever’s the most comfortable way to work and any given time should be an option.”
Outlet circles in the floor means flexibility. “We wanted an open plan but also wanted a space where we could totally move everything around in. And we’ve seen that before that we would rearrange the space many times we didn’t want to put up walls. You can plug in anywhere.” Some more advice? “It’s important to give people the best tools for saving time and to have a healthy back and all the stuff that they need. If someone wants a standing desk for their primary desk we’ll do that also. What happens more is that everyone has a sitting desk and there’s two people, three people who are always standing. But people will switch very frequently between things.” Like he said before, it’s really all about the options.
Anything needing an update in the office? “I might spend more money on making it easier to see what’s happening inside the [conference rooms]. People leave the doors open and have meetings out there but that stuff adds up all that stuff matters.” How interesting. Even at Wistia, finding people around the office, or finding spaces to meet in is an important area of improvement that has Chris’ attention.We couldn’t agree more. And we smile to ourselves, knowing a little something about that stuff.