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Next Big Thing: Robots

Thinkabit Thinks a Bit Bigger

Photography by Paul Body

September 12, 2017 Comments (0) Views: 544 Design, September 2017, Short Stories

Big Business and Bocce Ball: A Look Inside GoFundMe’s New Digs

GoFundMe may have moved its San Diego office to a larger space, but its tight-knit culture remains intact

As the world’s largest fundraising platform, with over $3 billion raised from thousands of campaigns since 2010, GoFundMe means business when it comes to giving back. Or paying it forward. Or saving the rainforest. Or paying your medical bills. Anyone can start a fundraiser for anything, and more than 25 million people have donated to one campaign or another.

The company recently upgraded to a larger space designed around their unique makeup. Take the Customer Happiness team, the frontline customer support agents who promise a five-minute response time, 24/7. With more than 10,000 signups on the site per day, the team is very busy.

“A support desk that never closes can be challenging and stressful to manage,” says Erik Hansen, head of internal operations. “Many of our customers are going through some of the most difficult moments of their lives. This team handles the challenge head-on.”

A brick wall warms the open floor plan. TVs display welcome messages and company updates, and pictures from memorable campaigns adorn the walls as a reminder of the company mission.

“The people make the company and define the culture, and when done right, the workplace should just help it along,” Hansen says. “There is music playing all day, smiles everywhere, high fives from coworkers for no reason other than they’re walking by each other. Our space was built to reinforce these behaviors. It was built to keep people close together and working together. You can’t force a culture—you can only hire great people and let the culture develop.”

  • Equal Footing: While the Customer Happiness team uses hotel stations, the rest of the staff has permanent workstations. There are no offices—regardless of seniority or level—and every desk is identical.
  • Common Threads: With such a large plan, they didn’t want the design to get lost in the vastness. Rather than filling the remaining space with extra seating, there are just a handful of common spaces that each see a lot of use.
  • Play Ball: The idea for the bocce ball court came from Kristen McWethy of bkm OfficeWorks. “I loved it,” says Hansen. “It doesn’t get played as much as I thought it would—but the Ping-Pong table in the cafeteria is home to some contentious lunchtime battles.”
  • Lounge Appeal: When the bullpen-style floor gets noisy, employees can head back to the lounge for some quiet time. There are comfortable sofas, dim lighting, and a long high-top table for impromptu brainstorming.
  • Lock It Up: The lockers are for the Customer Happiness team. Since they work in shifts, the agents use the lockers to store their belongings when they start a shift or to leave their keyboards and mice at the end of a shift.
  • Top Talent: The space holds ten small conference rooms for teams to gather. Hansen says the talent pool in San Diego is a big reason the company plans to remain here. “Also, the climate and vibe of San Diego doesn’t hurt.”
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