Fog Creek

The Price of (Dev) Happiness: Part Two

Last time, we took a look at the exact cost of the contents of our private dev offices. For this post, we promised to take a look at the price of the offices themselves.

Since the beginning, Fog Creek’s promise has always been that every developer gets a private office with a door that closes. Don’t want a private office? You get one anyway. If you want camaraderie, you can walk down the hall, put your witticisms on company chat, or store them all up and let fly at lunch.

In the previous post, the underlying message was, “Give your people the workstations they need to be comfortable and healthy.” The message in this post is not, “Give your people private offices.” We’re satisfied enough with the benefits that we’re going to continue it, but we’re not here to proselytize that policy.

The point this time is this: your office space and how you design it is an expression of your priorities as a company. It speaks to everyone who comes through the space, every day. Do not be shy about spending money on it.

Let’s get the number out of the way. We spend a bit over 6% of revenue on office space. Compared to other companies we’ve surveyed confidentially, that’s on the high side, but not by much. And we’re growing fast these days because of the stunning success of Kiln, so we won’t be above 6% for long. We’re based in Manhattan and, as you might imagine, office space is very expensive. But that’s what the company was founded on: a good job for awesome coders in New York City. Without making light of the achievements of our neighbors, we didn’t want to be the best place for devs to work in Hackensack. So it’s time to pony up.

Of course, a lot of companies who are competing for the same talent are actually venture-funded startups. They have different needs, revenue/reward models, and external expectations than we do. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Fred Wilson might take issue if you buy the $10,000 espresso machine before showing a profit. We’ve been profitable since inception and so can work a little differently.

Espresso machine

Also, the price tag on our office space is not only because we have private offices. We need a lunch room and kitchen to accommodate everyone having lunch at the same time, away from their desks. Our summer head count can grow by ten because of our summer internship program. Okay, so we don’t actually need the saltwater tropical fish tank or the marble shower or the library.  But we’re also expressing our company culture by how we structure our office, and if that can keep us happy and motivated, plus attract more smart people who share our values, that’s very much worth the extra money.

Here’s a few good snapshots of our office, if you want to see more.

Next, the cost of lunch, and its primary benefit: no standing meetings.