The first 2 years of running Krossover, we didn’t have an office. We were bootstrapping at first, and then we raised just a few hundred thousand Dollars in angel funding, which in a city like NYC does not go very far. The money had to go towards paying as many developers as possible, and so an office was seen as a completely unnecessary luxury. Besides, an office for 3-4 people is arguably not just a waste of money, but commuting time as well. So we all agreed to work from home until we really felt the need to get a space.
That time finally came in late 2011 when we were up to about 8 people and had people starting to work out of coffee shops. We decided that the tech team, more than anyone else, needed to be in close quarters to get shit done. Of course we were operating on a shoe-string budget, and couldn’t afford a security deposit plus furniture and utilities. We checked out all the co-working spaces in Manhattan, but we hated them, and they were overpriced. The nice spots were way out of our price range. Finally, we found a company that had taken on too much space, and was looking to sublet about 1000 sqft of furnished office space in a Class A building on Club House Row (44th street). The rent was about $5K a month for a conference room, 2 small offices, a kitchen, and a little entry foyer. Internet and electricity were included. I signed up on the spot and we moved in on Jan 2nd 2012.
The office was cramped and dull, with low ceilings and barely any windows. We gave the developers the “premium” seats and the rest of us sat wherever possible. By the time we had finally decided to leave the office, I was sitting out in the entry foyer. Still, we tried our best to make the cozy little office, home.
By the third quarter of 2012 however, we had grown to about 12 people, and the office was so cramped that our ability to actually get work done was severely hampered. It was clear that we not only needed to move to a larger space, but to a place that people would be excited to work in. After much searching, we finally found the office of our dreams – a 5000 sqft loft in Chelsea with high ceilings and tons of natural light.
We had so much space to go around that I got the literal and proverbial corner office all to myself.
I heard some grumblings about parking my ass in the biggest office, but I didn’t think that anybody really cared. However, I was holed up on one end of the floor, and definitely found myself interacting less with the rest of the team, than if I had been out in the open. Still, I felt I needed the privacy for many of the phone calls that I needed to make, and to have the ability to hold internal and external meetings in private. By the middle of 2013 however, it was clear that I was occupying too much space, and I gave my office up to 4 engineers (now 7), and moved into a smaller office.
I lasted till about 2 weeks ago in this smaller office, at which point our CTO drew up a new floor plan which didn’t include me. So one day while I was at home, they packed all my shit up into a box, and put 3 engineers into my former office. I was officially homeless. I had been harping to my entire team for the past couple of months that we were growing very quickly, and change was coming, so we needed to stay flexible. It was obvious therefore, that I was to not complain about not having an office, and make the best of the situation. I told my assistant to set up a new schedule for me.
Since it’s hard for me to get a lot of focussed work done at the office now without a desk, I stay at home on Tuesdays and Thursdays to have several hours of quiet time where I can get intensive work done, along with phone calls. It also gives me the opportunity to go to the gym across the street during lunch and get some basketball time in. All of my in-person meetings are scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the office. I basically park myself in the conference room the entire day. If another group within the company is meeting, no problem – I now get to attend that meeting without having to barge in and act like I’m snooping on them. I’m already in the room and I just ask them to ignore me. I’m getting to listen to and take part in discussions that I would otherwise have probably skipped out on. Anything I don’t get done in the office these three days, well I still have about 6 hours after I get home from 7pm to 1am to finish up.
In a way, growing so fast that I don’t have an office any more has really changed the way I work, and the amount that I now interact with everyone on the team. It’s easy to sit in an office and never come out – even with an open door policy, people don’t really use it nearly enough, especially the guy sitting inside the room. With no office and my seat being in a communal area, I’ve suddenly become a lot more accessible and involved in things that I would otherwise pass on. While I do end up having to finish work late at night because of certain extra, sometimes unnecessary meetings during the day, I’ve found that being a Conference Room CEO is one of the easiest ways to get more involved without being a pest. In fact, I’m of the opinion that even if we ever do move to a larger space where I have my own office, I will continue to do the conference room gig.