We recently made the big MOVE – to the new Zupee Headquarters! Among many congratulatory messages, it also stirred up the million rupee question – why do we even need offices in the age of remote work and virtual teams? So here’s a rundown of why we made the Move, how we landed at the new location, what model we will follow, and what our current and future teams can expect at our workspace.
Why do we need a HQ?
It’s simple: we needed space for our folks to meet “IRL”.
Zupee was founded in 2018 and started its full-fledged work during the pandemic when people were working from home and connecting only through emails, slack threads, and team video calls. It was a crazy yet incredibly productive time in our lives, and we grew to a team of more than 300 z-peeps.
One of the perils of expansion during the pandemic was that most employees could not get to know each other up close and personal. This became our immediate actionable item: to get everyone together and interact with each other in real settings. We had team lunches, offsites, and co-working sites, but it wasn’t quite the same as having everyone back together under one roof and having an office space that is ours and that we can proudly and very humbly boast about.
So, as the pandemic eased, our leadership team began talking about the next normal. The world had changed as we knew it. We’ve learned that people can be productive from their living room, but what about connection, culture, and collaboration?
For a young company like ours, building culture is as important as productivity. And successful workplace cultures rely on social interactions – from coffee machine chats to lunch catch-ups. We designed our new office in a way that excites our peeps and offers several avenues to work and chill with each other. We have an open seating plan with tall collab hotspots scattered all over the office to facilitate better communication and connections.
Studies have shown that in-person communication is easier and more effective. It is much simpler for people to form relationships and share ideas when they are working in the same area. Building and maintaining these relationships is harder in remote work, with 42% of respondents reporting a lower connection to colleagues as a key barrier in remote work.
Microsoft also reports that having co-workers with whom you can vent and relax can counteract emotional pressures at work. This emotional support greatly diminished with, 59% of hybrid employees and 56% of remote employees reporting having fewer work “friendships” since going hybrid or remote (Microsoft WTI 2022).
At Zupee, we’re building a culture that heroes the spark of intellectual curiosity, creativity and imagination. We wanted that to reflect in our office space as well. An awe-inspiring office space not only uplifts the mood but also boosts creativity and productivity. With businesses realizing that exciting settings may have a direct impact on their employees’ creativity, the days of boring and drab cubicle spaces in offices are long gone. We wanted smart pop culture references thrown around the office space for people to decipher, plenty of nooks to work, and—get this—a sleeping room where employees can catch up on some sleep. We have luckily implemented all that into our new office space, with tranquil settings and advanced workstations that stimulate creativity, unlike dull and drab cubicles.
In a similar vein, PwC researched that 87% of workers believe that office setting are helpful in fostering relationships and promoting cultural agility at work. This was also an encouraging sign for our founders that corporate culture is indeed a good sign for them to take the plunge.
Collaboration & Mentoring
The pandemic changed the way we collaborate. In recent years, communication networks in organizations around the world have become more modular or siloed. A new study of hundreds of billions of emails between workers at thousands of organizations globally in 2019 and 2020 confirmed the same: Many companies around the world became more siloed with employees digitally splitting off into more isolated and well-defined communication networks, according to research by Harvard Business School Professor Tiona Zuzul.
Very few companies have yet to succeed in building a virtual work environment that rivals the collaboration and community established in physical offices. Reflecting on Microsoft’s transition to distributed work, CEO Satya Nadella has said, “What I miss is when you walk into a physical meeting, you are talking to the person next to you, you’re able to connect with them for the two minutes before and after. That’s tough to replicate virtually, as are other soft skills crucial to managing and mentoring.
You are exposed to a variety of circumstances in an office setting, both professional and personal. These encounters are essential to both professional and personal growth. Early in a young professional’s career, it is crucial to see how more seasoned staff members handle certain situations. At the Zupee HQ, we have enough room for employees to consult for guidance and inspiration, which will ultimately be advantageous to the company.
A Microsoft study affirms that 30% of their staff underperformed and were less productive during the pandemic due to a lack of teamwork among employees who could not take cues from one another. It also suggests that small talk at work boosts positive social interactions, which leads to better organizational citizenship behavior (OCB).
About the building
Spread over thousands of sq ft, the Zupee HQ houses 300 workstations, a massive 80-seater cafe, a mezzanine floor with architecture inspired by Golden Gate Bridge, 13 spacious meeting rooms, delightfully convenient phone booths, outdoor workspaces all around the office and vitamin-D-rich sunshine all day long. This post gives you an idea of what it looks like. It is also a 5-minute drive from our interim workspace, and a 10-minute walk from Huda city center which means our peeps’ commutes didn’t change too much and we’re close to all the local amenities like ATMs, metro stations, and markets.
So now that we have a new office, did we switch to work from the office model completely? No. Most of our workforce is still in a remote/hybrid work mode. But the new office is a focal point, it serves as the location where customers, prospective employees, and stakeholders can physically interact with our brand. Since its inception, Zupee has been very particular about how it is viewed in the outside world, and with this new and hip workplace, we have just taken a baby step.