How TravelTab put employees at the centre of their workspace

Autonomous Autonomous | Aug 2, 2017
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Travel tab is a tech start-up dedicated to helping people travel smarter. Like many of our customers - see our Algolia and Dynamic Yield features - for TravelTab, having a fresh approach to their industry means having a fresh approach to the workspace. They told us all about how they put employees at the centre of their work culture.

TravelTab, like many tech start-up’s, have found a way to bridge that gap between what’s possible and what’s available. In other words, they found a smart solution to a simple problem. 

Their device allows visitors to the US to access domestic data without racking up huge fees. This means, tourists can now navigate their way across the country or make phone calls to local businesses with great rates  -  whilst picking up perks along the way. They’ve essentially brought the great American road trip into the digital age!

In the words of Phillip Ganzfried, their director of procurement: ‘By partnering with the top 10 rental car companies, we’re able to replace the dilapidated Garman GPS device with a modern take that provides a more robust feature set like voice activated Google Navigation, a secure Wi-Fi hotspot, a built in phone client and an eCommerce store that provides local coupons and attraction tickets.’

And it doesn’t stop there. They’ll soon be reaching out to hotels, stadiums and other venues to continue to find new angles through which to help their customers travel smarter.

Like many start-up’s today, they follow the example set by the, now tech giants such as Google, AirBnb and Dropbox - overturning the traditional office space and forging new approaches to work to reflect contemporary values.

Their unique approach to office culture is all about putting people first. As they say, ‘A great product will only go as far as your employees will take it.’

Their whole office is designed around this philosophy. They have ‘break out’ spaces for group work or just for socialising, a ‘Kegerator’ (free beer on tap) to encourage people to hang out in the evenings and of course Autonomous SmartDesk standing desks for every employee (apparently with Nerf guns strapped underneath). 

Phillip describes how ‘The idea is to create a work environment that is inviting and encourages employees to stay around longer and enjoy their time at work.’

This approach has no doubt helped them to consolidate their company culture whilst in the throes of rapid expansion which is always a challenge to that start-up sensibility.

We spoke to them to them to find out how they put people at the centre of their workspace and picked up some extra notes on creating a work culture that can scale.

What advice would you give to a new start-up?

Focus on your employees first.  A great idea or product will only go as far as your employees are willing to take it.

How would you describe your company culture in three words?

Technology driven startup.

What do you think is the most important quality for an office to have?

An open concept floor plan provides better team collaboration and communication.  As an IT and Development heavy company, communication is paramount to our success.

collaboration

What is an office improvement you or your team have made to help everyone work smarter?

We standardized our desk set-up (same dual monitor arm mounts, docking stations, cable trays, etc) in a way that made the space more uniform looking and also increased efficiency for each employee to choose how they wanted to work at their desks.

Did you look to any particular businesses when thinking about developing your company culture?

We based our office feel off of the greats in Silicon Valley like Google as well as local tech startups in the area.  We have a full gym in our office for employees to use.  We have a dual tap kegerator with two types of beer for employees. ‘ The idea is to create a work environment that is inviting and encourages employees to stay around longer and enjoy their time at work.’

Do you promote health and well-being in your office? If so- how?

We have a full gym in our office to encourage health and wellness.

Do you actively encourage social aspect of your office? If so how?

We have free beer on tap to encourage social interaction after work hours.  This creates an inviting atmosphere for people to linger in.

Why did you choose to use the SmartDesk in your offices?

As a development heavy tech company, we wanted to give our employees the flexibility to work how they’re most comfortable.  For that reason, a transitional desk was important to create that “custom” workspace feel for people.  The SmartDesk was the best sit/stand desk that I could find and we are loving it.

Do you have any particular practices or tools (eg. app’s) for encouraging and enhancing productivity?

We have two conference rooms and multiple small “break-out” rooms to encourage collaboration and communication.  We also have our desks together in groups of six to encourage better open conversations and dialog.

Have you found any particular challenges with your office set-up as you have grown?

Because we have grown so large, we span three floors in our office, so inter-department communication can suffer when different departments are on different floors.  A lot gets done in email because of it.

What do you think it means to innovate in your office space today?

To get away from the “old style” of thinking and focus on employee morale and enjoyment.  To listen to the people at the company that make it great and help it grow.

What is an office improvement you and your team has made to help everyone work smarter?

We just expanded to a new floor in our office.  We originally took half of a floor in our three floor building, now we control two and a half of the three floors.  Our new floor is open concept and tech-minded to enhance the feeling and comfort.  Our Autonomous desks and chairs are a big portion of that look and feel.

What are your worst office habits? Do you have any guilty pleasure in your office - cake days or Friday drinks?

Someone usually brings in treats (like doughnuts) once a week or so.  It’s not standardized and it’s usually paid for by employees, but it definitely helps morale.  The Kegerator helps as well!

Any favorite office stories you’d like to share with us (and the world)?

The best part about the Autonomous desk is the wide open space below that gives ample space to store and mount Nerf guns with quick access.  You never know when a spontaneous company-wide Nerf war will break out and quick access to your mounted guns is critical.  

What do you hope to see in offices in the future?

I would like to see Conference room tables from Autonomous.  We have two large table conference rooms and multiple small breakout rooms that need small round tables that can sit or stand.

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