We have people in the USA (in California and Illinois), and Europe. This allows us to provide top-notch customer support, and gives us a diverse and global culture.
Remote-first, with a Nest
Being remote-first means that there are no first-class and second-class employees at Balsamiq. We've worked hard to ensure that everyone is able to participate in discussions and decision-making, regardless of their location.
Because we have a big group of people in Bologna, we've had an office there since 2010. For many years, we had a boring, as-plain-as-possible office, because we didn't want our non-Italian employees to feel like they were missing out. After a few years we realized that this situation was short-changing everyone involved: those outside Italy still felt like they were missing out on important conversations, and those located near Bologna had a lame office to work at.
So in 2016 our Founder and CEO decided to switch to working exclusively from home: this way everyone had the same level of access to him, and it showed that we were serious about being remote-first. It worked! Everyone else started going to the office less and less, and we made the changes necessary to be able to be more fully remote-first.
A few years went by, and we realized we didn’t have a need for an office — we were committed to remote first work — but that we could envision the benefits of creating a different kind of company space. We were also about to turn 10 as a company, a major milestone in our history.
That's when we decided to build ourselves a space. It's an office, but it's not really an office. It's more of a space that Balsamiq employees can call home, regardless of where they live. It's a home-base where we can all get together for our yearly company retreats, or where teams can gather to have mini-retreats to kick off new projects or spend a few days together in person. It's also a space to host conferences and events, and social gatherings for our employees and their friends and families. It has enough desks to fit us all, and is used as an office once in a while by some of our Italian employees. Moreover, it is a tangible representation of the Balsamiq brand. Being in software all we do is digital... Other than some SWAG items, we don't have anything in the real-world that showcases our Balsamiq values.
We called it The Nest : a place for our employees to fly home to, a cozy place for us to spend time together a few times a year.
Designing a remote-first office
The first thing we did when designing the Nest was to completely ignore the space we had found, and instead focus on designing The Balsamiq Workstation.
The idea is for everyone at Balsamiq to have access to the same high-quality desk, chair, cabinet, laptop, monitor, lamp, trash can, and even plants, regardless of where they live and work. So we designed a home office workstation, and told everyone at the company that we would buy them those items if they wanted them and they fit in their home offices.
Once all these items were picked, all we had to do for the Nest was to copy/paste enough workstations to fill out the space.
This way whether you work from home or from the Nest, you have the same equipment, and a way to feel connected. Some of us even painted our home office walls the same green color of the Nest walls!
Our home offices
Each of us has personalized our space, but you will see many similarities!