Why this company relocated to NYC, but doesn’t make its employees come to the office

February 16, 2017

Monetate, a leading personalization software platform that allows brands to interact uniquely with customers, was originally founded in Philadelphia. The company relocated its headquarters to New York City this year, primarily to bring the company closer to its high concentration of clients in fashion and retail.

This is the first in a series of strategic initiatives that are ushering in a new era for the company, as it expands from web testing and targeting to offer brands the industry’s first true one-to-one personalization platform. However, "headquarters" is a loose term for the company.

All of the company's employees can work remotely.

In order to make this distributed structure work, Monetate employs a number of principles to maintain a strong internal culture.

According to CEO Lucinda Duncalfe, the first of these is to maintain some level of face-to-face interaction. Monetate’s executive team gets together in-person on a quarterly basis, and the company’s developers come together at least once every six months.

They also utilize video conferencing. Upon its decision to operate as a remote workforce, Monetate tested all types of video conferencing technology and now uses Zoom for all its calls. Duncalfe also stresses that, in a remote culture, it’s crucial to have a social way to mimic ‘bumping into each other in the hallway’ interactions. To this end, the company utilizes enterprise messaging service Slack, especially to reinforce its company values. 

“When I first started as CEO two and a half years ago, we went through a very formal mission, vision, values exercise,” said Duncalfe. “The company had a very strong culture and a very strong value set, but they weren’t commonly held and they weren’t explicit. But if people aren’t going to work in an office, implicit values are harder to learn. And we really live by our values now.”

Lastly, Duncalfe emphasizes that the key to a remote culture is a rigorous cadence to accountability. For example, unless employees are sick or on vacation, internal meetings are unacceptable to miss.

“It probably took us a year to fully embed these principles into how the company works,” Duncalfe said. “But now we put a very high premium on people working wherever they want.”

And it works. In fact, business is booming for Monetate, which, beyond Philadelphia and New York City, also has offices in Palo Alto and London. To date, the company’s high-profile roster of retail clients includes The North Face, QVC and J.Crew, to name a few. Within the personalization market, Monetate has the highest number of internet retailer 500 clients using its technology.

“Philadelphia is an amazing place to start a company, because in the beginning you need generalists — really smart people who can do all types of jobs,” said Duncalfe. “As we grew into more of a growth company, we started to need people who have been there and done that, and unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of enterprise SaaS companies that have been successful in Philadelphia. So we made the decision to hire people all over, and now our team is spread out all over the globe.”

Monetate’s new office in New York City is a small location in Soho, which employees can organically filter in and out of as they see fit.

Image via Facebook. 

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