Although we do affectionately refer to it as “301,” our new headquarters is more than an address. It’s an integral part of who we are, what we value, and what we aim to achieve.
We are dedicated to fostering a culture where everyone is free to thrive and succeed in a highly transparent, inclusive and collaborative environment. From the outset, we were committed to creating a space that fostered this vision.
We began by involving our 70 employees in identifying key features of a workspace that would support and amplify our values in action. What emerged was a palpable enthusiasm for the possibilities, which included a focus on an open environment without offices, but replete with meeting rooms; both formal and informal collaboration spaces for sparking sharing and discovery; and extensive use of glass to allow natural light to flow through every lab space and provide visual continuity between the office and labs; spare furnishings; high ceilings; and abundant plant life. And that was just the beginning.
To us, an office is more than just an address.
These themes also carried through to our technology choices. We had already implemented Slack to facilitate immediate and broad sharing of data and analysis within and across our teams. Now, we’ve gone further to equip every collaboration space and meeting room with Zoom videoconferencing and sharing capability. We have an app that allows people to quickly find one another, and a check-in system that notifies our teams the minute that guests arrive.
In our seating arrangements, we walked away from convention in order to further accelerate collaboration, arranging ourselves by cross-functional teams, each focused on advancing therapeutic candidates in specific categories. Teams dedicated to liver disorders are grouped together in one area, and those committed to retinal disorders collaborate closely in another. Within each, there are no individual offices nor is seating defined by hierarchy or function; instead, scientists, leadership team members, administrators and program team members are all mixed together. Our teams are organized into six distinct neighborhoods, each with local greenery, collaboration spaces, and conference rooms. This arrangement has not only elevated the way we work, it has created a fun, cross-neighborhood competition that has sparked events such as “Trivia Night with Geeks who Drink.”
Because our team is mission-focused, our space needed to be, as well. At the many moments when we reach an obstacle or feel like we’ve hit a barrier, it helps to be reminded why we come to work every day. To this end, we have several photo walls displaying the lives and faces of families living with rare diseases who we’ve met at company events. We also created a reflection area to honor the memory of a colleague who passed away from a rare disease in the company’s earliest days, and to provide a quiet space for time away from team-oriented work.
A major focal point of the office is a large, eclectic café that is a favorite for impromptu gatherings as well as weekly Town Hall meetings. Our café is where big announcements are made to the entire company, and exciting data is shared between colleagues. It’s filled with energy, laughter, healthy (and okay, sometimes not-so-healthy) snacks and, of course, a multitude of caffeine options. Cold brew coffee is always on tap—often next to microbrew beer. We’ve moved to eliminate all disposable plastics and minimize bottled or canned items. Instead, we use regular plates and tableware for all events and lunches and manage consumables with recycling and compost. The café is an important part of our day-to-day life, but it’s also where we host a disco party for an hour every Friday morning — a longstanding tradition at our former site that we wanted to continue in our new home.
Smaller, additional lighthearted touches throughout the office have made it feel like home. Our team voted to name conference rooms after video game locations – now we hold board meetings in Peach’s Castle and give presentations in Bowser’s Keep. It’s a nice reminder that big goals, even very serious ones, require some humor and perspective along the way.
While we’re still unpacking and settling in, we’re already seeing the benefits of being together under one roof in an environment that’s designed to enable everyone to grow and thrive, individually and in teams. It’s exciting to walk through our doors every morning. We invite you to come by and feel it for yourself. We’ll have a mug ready.