From graffiti to giant legos, these are 3 Austin tech companies putting a spin on large office spaces

August 4, 2015

Austin tech companies are known for having innovative and collaborative office spaces — no matter what the size. These Austin companies have over 100 employees in their offices, and they've got some of the most creative spaces around. 

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As a nonprofit software company, Blackbaud's office matches its mission. Located in the Domain, it is filled with inspirational quotes and feel-good energy. The office is bespeckled with references to those organizations who have thrived from Blackbaud's technology and giving-back programs. 
 
Awesome fact: Blackbaud joined in on the #unselfie campaign, in which people take pictures of themselves and their favorite charitable cause, to boost GivingTuesday Donations.
 
Answers from Kathy Marshall, HR Director, Leadership & Culture
 
How has employee feedback altered the company besides the office space and its layout? 
 
We pulsed our employees about what matters in their daily work environment – leading directly to a job shadowing program. Based upon employee feedback we have targeted our culture events to what matters to them (pinballz social, happy hours, picnics, boating trips, family participation when possible, participating in Operation Austin with Fort Hood). We have also tailored our all employee meetings based upon their feedback – customer presentations, business updates, etc. We have used their feedback to make our meetings more collaborative as well as our physical space.
 
Can you expand on how philanthropy and philanthropic service is ingrained in the office culture?
 
Based upon what we do as a company, it just naturally fits that we have employees that truly care about the community internally to Blackbaud and externally. It doesn’t feel like a push. In other words, people come to Blackbaud knowing they want to give back. It's a differentiator for attracting talent. So, when they come on board…they tend to drive it. We just encourage it. We have service days, provide paid time off to give back and we are constantly organizing the next thing to do. Right now, we are working on mobile loaves and fishes and CANville.
 
How do you think this office design affects work culture? What are some elements that have come through in employee team building?
 
Some of the biggest issues our culture team and employees wanted to make happen were more collaboration between the different groups. We tended to stick to our own groups and not venture out. So, we moved everyone around, our leaders packed up and moved out of their offices to be more visible and accessible, we were thoughtful about having a space in the middle of the building that would be easier for small meetings as well as large enough to hold our large all employee events. Changing up the conference rooms to have better collaboration tools (still a work in progress).
 
How do the personal stories from the leadership team and client organizations effect the culture?
 
We have an Austin leadership team that meets regularly to focus on the culture and the needs of the employees and keeping our site current. The team wants employee feedback. They know how hard it is to get great talent in Austin’s competitive market. So there is constant discussion on how to keep the folks we have and attract those we want.  We participate at the Chamber. We want our folks out in the community being visible. Our clients are asked to come in and speak to our employees. 
 
In your words, how does this space exemplify Blackbaud brand as a whole?
 
We work as one. We bring heart. We invent possibilities. We expect the best. But, most of all, we give back.
 

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OutboundEngine

Like a Red Bull, the environment of OutboundEngine's Downtown office is sure to zap you with energy, no matter the lack of sleep plaguing you. The space is surrounded by the work of Austin-based graffiti Artist Mike Johnson and filled with millennials pacing to-and-fro.
 
Awesome fact: All desks come with a 270-degree views of downtown and the hill country.
 
Answers from CEO Branndon Stewart
 
What were your considerations when picking an office space and designing its layout?
 
Prior to the move, OutboundEngine had two offices separating the sales team from the rest of the company. The new office space had to enable all employees to be in one place, exposing other departments to the contagious energy of the sales team. Remaining downtown was also a crucial factor as we looked to maintain our vibrant and active culture. And, we had to secure enough parking for everyone, because employees have told us that our company-paid 24/7 downtown parking is one their favorite perks. 
 
OutboundEngine designed the space to be open and welcoming, and to foster collaboration. So, we chose an open plan (zero offices) with a variety of different-sized conference rooms and a big living/dining room space where our team socializes. We also wanted to maximize our 270-degree views of downtown and the hill country, so we put all of the conference rooms, the kitchen, etc. on the interior walls and employees' desks on the perimeter. That means that every employee gets to enjoy the natural light and beautiful views from our windows. 
 
What are some of the perks of working in your office? (snacks, be able to customize your desks, in-office massages, etc.) Why are these important to you?
  • Large employee lounge - This encourages interaction between employees, gives everyone a space to relax, and serves as a hub for events.
  • Custom throne for top sales reps - We love recognizing top performers.
  • Stocked kitchen - It's important to keep people fueled up during the workday.
  • Choice of company-paid 24/7 downtown parking or a monthly Metro pass - Commuting is frustrating enough, so we try to make it as easy as possible for our team.
  • Access to a gym in our building - Saves employees money on gym memberships and saves them the time of making a separate trip.
  • Regular happy hours and other celebrations - It's important to decompress on a regular basis!
  • Tiff's Treats on your birthday - We want everyone to feel valued.
How do you think office design affects work culture?
 
The most important thing you can control with office design is energy, and we think having the right energy is critical to establishing a strong culture. In our case, we're looking for a supportive, team-oriented culture, and maintaining a high level of energy helps keep everyone in good spirits and ready to help our their coworkers, even if they've had a tough day themselves.
 
Office design can also drive transparency: when you can close doors, it's easier to hide things. We put a huge value on transparency and can't stand politics, so we're big believers in the open office concept--we think it encourages people to be collaborative and to resolve conflicts directly. By skipping offices, and by putting our conference rooms along interior walls, everyone at OutboundEngine gets to share our awesome light and views, and we hope that makes everyone feel like the playing field is level.
 
 

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Clad with Austin-pride, the BuildASign office is a spirited journey through the City's favorite haunts and happenings.
 
Awesome fact: BuildASign helps to fuel Austin's top philanthropies through Philanthropitch, a fast pitch forum for Austin’s most promising nonprofit organizations. 
 
Answers from Casey Wilson, Talent Acquisition Specialist
 
How do you think this office design affects work culture differently than previous space?
 
The office design impacts the work culture greatly because it is so open by nature. This is a testament to the BuildASign philosophy. We have a very collaborative environment and have a very open and cross-functional mentality.  
 
How does this space exemplify BuildASign brand as a whole?
 
Our space lends to the brand as a whole because we are a very progressive and technologically savvy company. We have a very talented team and work well cohesively.
 
What words would you use to describe the daily environment?
 
Collaborative, cross-functional, inspiring, open, creative, and cohesive.
 
 
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