Gusto’s founding is a classic Silicon Valley tale.
In 2011, Joshua Reeves and a few techie friends launched the company out of a house in Palo Alto, where the founders had access to top coding talent and proximity to the most powerful VC firms in America.
That’s where the startup stereotype ends for Gusto, a billion-dollar enterprise that makes human resources software for small businesses.
Reeves takes pride in helping small businesses do great work, but he also wanted Gusto to be a great place to work. It’s avoided the reckoning on fratty company culture by providing a homey environment, transparency in the way they work, and “ridiculously generous” benefits. Fortune magazine named Gusto one of the 100 best workplaces for millennials, and employees write glowing reviews on Glassdoor.
The company opened a new headquarters in the once industrial, now ultra hipster Dogpatch neighbourhood of San Francisco earlier this year. We took a look inside.
Welcome to Gusto. It’s inside a former Union Iron Works machine shop, a high-ceilinged building that survived the 1906 earthquake.
When you walk inside, the receptionist invites you to remove your shoes and store them in a cubby. Gusto socks may be provided.
Gusto has had a no-shoes policy since the company was founded in a home. Reeves was raised to take his shoes off at the door.
When the company graduated to a proper office, the founders kept the no-shoes policy. Reeves said it makes the office feel like home.
The new-new office in San Francisco has one central room, which Gusto employees — or “gusties” — refer to as the living room.
It holds 275 workers, with room for more gusties.
Gusto preserved as much of the original architecture as it could, including the pipes and beams and old gantry cranes overhead.
Desks are mixed among couches, area rugs, poufs, and coffee tables — “stuff you would see in a living room,” Reeves said.
We saw employees sporting socks, slippers, and bare feet.
These tiger paw slippers took the prize for best footwear.
Employees have the flexibility to work from wherever they want.
Everyone has an assigned desk, but Reeves. The CEO switches desks at least once a month so he can get to know the different teams better.
He also rotates through the company’s office in Denver once a month so satellite employees can get face time with the boss.
Comfort is key. “When their parents are in town, we would love colleagues to bring their families over for lunch,” Reeves said.
And Gusto does not skimp on food. Employees have free snacks, lunch, and dinner on weekdays. The food looked pretty healthy.
The cafeteria space doubles as meeting space, where all 275 employees can come together for company updates.
Gusties pitched in to paint the mural on the far wall. It shows the many types of small businesses that Gusto proudly serves.
The conference room names pay tribute to customers, as well.
Employees must have been hungry during a brainstorming meeting to name the rooms, because most of them are food-themed.
The company offers some insanely good benefits.
Gusto pays for the cost of commuting, offers unlimited vacation time, and covers fertility benefits such as egg-freezing and IVF.
Each employee gets a free flight to anywhere in the world on their one-year work anniversary. It’s called the “golden ticket” perk.
Gusties hold regular meditation sessions in the wellness room.
And they’re welcome to use whichever bathroom feels most comfortable.
The floors are heated, according to Gusto, though we couldn’t tell the difference.
The company plans to stay here at least 10 years. Eventually, it will outgrow the “living room” and lease more office space nearby.
Gusto shares the building with Uber, which is ironic given the ride-hailing company’s bad reputation for company culture and HR.
Maybe Gusto can help.
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