When I asked Amy Spurling, Jana’s CFO, and Sarah Matthews, the Boston startup’s associate marketing manager, about how it felt to be in a new office that had enough space for their 74 employees, there was an audible sigh of relief from both of them.
“Not having to sit in the back corner by a bathroom to take a call is phenomenal,” Spurling told me.
The startup, which provides free smartphone data usage in emerging markets as an incentive for downloading apps, recently moved out of its roughly 5,500-square-foot office on Tremont Street and into a 18,500-square-foot office on the ninth floor of 101 Arch St. in Boston, right above Localytics. The 20-story, high-rise building is also the home of ezCater and LevelUp.
Jana’s product, mCent, helps smartphone users with costly and restrictive data plans in emerging markets gain free airtime credits by downloading and trying certain apps on mCent’s marketplace. Spurling said the fact that mCent is used in 93 countries helped inform the startup’s design and layout of its new office, which is took residence last month.
“Our entire user base is in a lot of countries,” Spurling said, “so we wanted to bring some of that into the Boston space because you can kind of lose touch with who your end users are if you’re not more cognizant of the fact that what we’re doing everyday is impacting somebody’s life somewhere else.”
As Spurling and Matthews gave me a tour through their open concept office, that design decision became very apparent as I saw walls and glass door panels covered with photos of different locales, landmarks and people from across the world; images of different flags and maps; framed currencies; and clocks that have different timezones based on which country they represent.
To help Jana’s employees think about their end users across the world, each conference room and breakout room lacks a nameplate and instead has a visual representation of a city, country or currency associated with it depending on its size, Spurling said.
When scheduling rooms, employees need to know the actual name of the city, country or currency each visual represents to know which rooms are being used. The largest conference room, for instance, is called Kilifi, the town in Kenya where the idea for Jana was conceived, Matthews said.
As for the actual layout for the office, Spurling said it was arranged in a way so can decide whether to work in a space with more people or in another part of the office where that is quieter and has more breathing room. None of the employees, including the startup’s leadership team, have their own office, she said, but if they need to make a call or need to do work behind closed doors, there are 22 breakout rooms they have access to. There’s also a share of couches and other kinds of soft seating available, along with plenty of room in the office’s large cafeteria for individuals and groups to work.
“When you’re building out a floor plate that’s this big in Boston, it gets really expensive really fast,” she said, “so we focused on spending in areas that are going to have the biggest ROI for the team.”
What’s the result of Jana’s office design and layout philosophies? Take a look right here:
All photos taken by Dylan Martin.