Updater knows moving. This technology startup builds software to manage the moving process, helping people organize everything from logistics to transitioning between utility companies.
But in January 2017, the Manhattan-based company moved itself. Its 55-person team had outgrown its 2,300-square-foot-office and settled into one four times its size.
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Of course, moves always have their challenges. Before it moved, Updater wanted to design a space that would grow with the young startup. The company wanted to maintain the family feel it had in its cozier space, even with 55 staffers (and 10 of those remote). It also wanted a multi-functional space that would offer flexibility as the company grew further.
To that end, Updater enlisted TPG Architecture, the brains behind Spotify’s New York office, to design a multi-purpose, collaborative office filled with enough personalized touches that every visitor could feel welcome.
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It was a good plan. In less than a year, the still growing company has already reached its second phase of renovations and is making room for its latest crop of new hires.
Click through to see how Updater keeps itself moving.
Upon stepping into Updater’s space, visitors face no barriers between the front desk and the rest of Updater’s open office — and that’s by design. Updater wants its clients to feel welcome and encourages clients to drop in unannounced. The company also feels this design decision underscores its commitment to transparency.
The windows have both blackout curtains and translucent curtains. The blackout curtains are used to darken the room when the projector is running, and to help block the sun from shining right in people’s eyes.
For ultimate functionality, this special ping-pong table doubles as a conference room table (just add chairs). Its surface slides apart, revealing more hidden storage — perfect for meeting supplies or ping-pong paddles.
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Each Updater employee gets a sit-to-stand desk that transitions at the push of a button. Updater avoids creating a hierarchy with its seating chart, so each employee gets the same desk, from the CEO to the intern. (The CEO even sits next to the intern.)
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Before each employee’s first day, Ashley Lunsford, People Experience Manager, sends along a survey asking for each individual’s likes and dislikes. Questions include, “What’s your favorite color?”, “What’s your favorite animal?” and “If someone was going to get you a birthday treat (pie, cake, cupcake, etc) what would it be?”
When they arrive, they receive a personal letter from Lunsford, their favorite candy or snack and necessities for the first day, such as paper and pencil for notes, and Updater swag, such as this red tumbler.
This custom-branded corn hole game is mobile, creating a fun, backyard feel for parties in the space.
The glass doors on each of these rooms are also dry-erase compatible for spur-of-the-moment brainstorming sessions. Glass underscores the company’s dedication to transparency — everyone at Updater can see who anyone else is meeting with. Mounted tablets outside each room display room booking schedules and visitor identities.
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Moving-themed song lyrics double as bold, inexpensive wall art at Updater. The team pulled from songs such as the ’94 hit “I Like to Move It Move It” and Beyonc?’s “Irreplaceable” (2006), with “Everything you own in a box to the left.”
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Says Weinerman, “Believe it or not, there are not that many songs about moving — but we found them.”
This wall art doesn’t just reinforce the company’s brand — it stresses an important work maxim that could help any Updater employee.
The open floorplan helps foster a “family feel” among employees and when Updater hosts clients and the tech community.
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“As you scale, as you add more people, inevitably, individual teams start to grow, and there are little nucleuses that form, or micro-cultures, as I like to call them,” Weinerman says. “But having an open office space really keeps it feeling like one team, because you’re basically all in one room.”
Six zones are programmed into the Sonos sound system, allowing employees who want to listen to music as a group to do so and those who’ve downloaded the Sonos app to play DJ. Those who need to focus can choose to work in a quiet zone. And thanks to a company-wide rule, those wearing headphones are left alone, since that’s an established sign someone needs to focus.
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Updater has a grocery Slack channel so employees can add FreshDirect links for items they want the company to purchase. Eggs are often available in the fridge for use in this hard-boiled egg maker, which one employee requested. Avocados are also on hand, and many employees make avocado toast.
“We have our kitchen appliances, so it truly feels like home,” Dole says. “We cook and eat together.”
Updater employees like salty snacks over sweet ones — a fact the company discovered only after over-ordering Oreos. That said, they do share a love of gummy candy such as Sour Patch Kids and Swedish Fish.
A love of dogs has led to a special nickname for the company: Pupdater. Employees take turns bringing their dogs to work, with each pooch coming in about once every two weeks. A total of eight dogs cycle through (they’re featured on the “Meet the team” page of Updater’s website), and on rare occasions, two dogs are in the space at one time. Here dog Rocky enjoys a break at the humans’ water cooler where a dog-friendly water bowl also sits.
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This second Kletsel mural, located in the back of the office in a nook that contains a foosball table, features even more inside jokes and easter eggs. A marching band illustration (center, above the globe surrounded by blue arrows) symbolizes the day a marching band walked through the office to mark a special milestone: That month, Updater reached 10 percent market share for the first time. In other words, the company passed the point of assisting 10 percent of all U.S. movers, referred by its real estate partners.
Surprises are an important part of the culture at Updater. Weinerman hired the marching band to play “I like to move it, move it” (see video below), and the musicians started playing in the back of the office and marched toward the front area where the staff was congregated for a meeting. Then, throughout the next 10 days, the surprise-filled celebration continued. Employees received massages, a smoothie bar, a whiskey tasting and new team backpacks.
“Some of the small things we do for employees, we keep as surprises,” Dole says. “If it’s a fun surprise, the reaction is so much better.”
In 2016, Updater landed at number three on the Crain’s New York Best Places to Work list. During the ceremony, Crain’s gave each company has a superlative, and Updater’s was, “Fun and full of surprises.”