Inside FreshBooks' massive new Toronto office space
When you've started and grown a business from a basement, one that raised $30M in funding last year, converting a damp old warehouse located in an up-and-coming Toronto neighborhood into a sprawling, energetic office space for nearly 200 employees doesn't seem too far-fetched an idea.
Levi Cooperman, co-founder and VP operations, and Casey McKinnon, the head of product at FreshBooks, are gracious, humble, and full of stories about how it all started and how much the team has grown as they take me on a tour of their new office space that stands at a whopping 43,000 sq. ft.
Previously home to the Planet Storage warehouse, 1655 Dupont St., a designated heritage building in the Junction Triangle now houses Phase 1 of 3 of the FreshBooks campus spanning two floors of cafeterias, gyms, ping pong tables, lounge areas, open concept work spaces, and multi-themed meeting rooms.
Paying homage to its tech startup roots, the majority of the seven-year old company's office is dedicated to open, extremely "movable" work space. Built around the concept of the "Three C's" - connectedness, collaboration, and collision - the furniture and layout are designed to aid the extremely agile work environment at FreshBooks.
The concept of collision manifests itself in the signature common areas and hallways that connect all parts of the office together. The lack of separation between business further allows teammates who wouldn't normally work together to have unplanned, serendipitous conversations.
One of Levi's favorite spots in this office is the staircase landing that peeks into the cafeteria downstairs while still offering full visibility into the main floor.
Freshbooks meeting rooms are named after different themes to help with easier navigation. One set of rooms, for example, are named after Canadian inventions like "IMAX" and "Butter Tarts." Perhaps the best part is that these names were selected and voted on by FreshBooks' employees. The above is my personal favorite - nobody really knows how to pronounce it, yet it still won out in the company poll.
One room actually has two IMAX home theatre chairs and is awaiting screen installation. Almost all of the meeting rooms make use of glass walls to allow the natural light to penetrate through to the rest of the office.
The product teams at FreshBooks all operate like "little startups" within the company, says Casey. Each has its own director, designers, development team, and an information radiator - - an agile concept that help teams showcase their latest product work to the rest of the company.
No stranger to housing various Toronto meetups in its space, the new FreshBooks "Learnatorium" - a multi-purpose room in the west-wing of the campus - is set to open its doors for a four-day intensive Girls Learning Code Camp this March.
Like any respectable work space, dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds are not only welcome, but highly encouraged. Maintaining its reputation as a bike-friendly office, the lower level has a dedicated bicycle storage and repair area.
Phase II of the FreshBooks office project, which will include knocking out some of the sealed up windows and adding more open work spaces, commences in November 2015.
Oh and they're hiring, if working in a brick-and-beam building with high ceilings and all the natural light you could ever ask for is your kinda thing.
Photos by Jimmy Lu.
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