WorkWave Finds the Space it Needs to Build Culture at Scale

WorkWave has had some cool offices.

Early on in its 30 years, the then softball team sized company worked from a house in a residential neighborhood. Then it was a converted firehouse. In one office, a surfboard with the company name greeted visitors at reception. Even in the more generic “officey” spaces, WorkWave designed its interiors with the bold colors and the perks you would expect from a tech company, like catered lunches and gaming stations.

But what they couldn’t change for their employees was the experience just outside their door.

Every day started and ended the same way, with a direct walk to and from the car. There was no reason to pause between the parking lot and your desk.

The Bell Works atrium regularly hosts unique events for tenants and the public like this fencing demo that allowed brave tenants to take a break from work and try their hand at the sport.

That changed in 2016 when then-CEO Chris Sullens signed a lease for floor 5 of building 2 at Bell Works, the emerging adaptive reuse of Bell Labs in Holmdel, NJ.

There wasn’t much more than a coffee stand and a pop up cafe at Bell Works then, but the WorkWave leadership team could see the vision that developer Ralph Zucker had overlayed on the two million square foot building. And they banked on creating their new headquarters in the raw industrial space, with just a little trepidation as they looked to see it come to fruition.

Find out the details of the WorkWave deal.

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 The weekly farmer’s market draws crowds from inside and outside the building.

The promised community of the metroburb was still a year off, but what Bell Works did have now was space – uninterrupted floors of vast open space flanked by windows, park like views of the 272 acre property on one side and on the other, a view of the sun dappled turf fields and pedestrian walkways of the great glass atrium that connects Bell Works’ four distinct buildings.

The move enabled WorkWave to do what it already did culturally, but to do it at scale.

The WorkWave culture is an open-friendship-between-departments kind of culture where collaboration is a must and customer, and employee, satisfaction is a bi-product.

WorkWave makes software for field operations. Say a pest control company has a fleet to manage and route to schedule. WorkWave helps those guys keep their trucks on the road, working in an efficient manner. And being a software company means being on the receiving end of a constant stream of customer feedback.

You can see the company name reflected in the new space where the wave motif is both subtle and obvious, from a curving wave like section separating the product and customer service teams to the surfboard name plates on cubes and private offices.

What you won’t find is many walls, which the WorkWave team says can create silos between departments.

Inside the WorkWave space, teams have easy access to each other thanks to the open floor plan.

Running through the fifth floor space is a winding path of the building’s original concrete floor. Only now, it’s stained WorkWave blue and meanders between the product and customer teams. They’re situated together along with the UX and UI teams so that those who service the customers who use the product can communicate easily with those who make the product.

What drew the leadership team here was more than the open floor plans. It was the promised intrinsic quality of a city that hums with life on a smaller scale, tucked in the green nook of suburban Monmouth County. The “building around your building” feeling where the experience flows in and out of the office. 

Currently at over 250 employees globally, WorkWave has grown more than 100 employees over the last three years with plans to grow to 500+. Construction is about to begin on the company’s expansion space beyond the office wall, which will bring their office to 72,000 sq. ft.

Company officials say the move has raised the company’s profile allowing it to attract more top talent.

There are only a handful of spaces left at Bell Works. See a complete listing of spaces in the WorkWave case study.

VP of Talent Kelly Gliatta has been with WorkWave, almost since the beginning when the company was just 15 people working out of a house in Wall. The move to Bell Works, she says, has been a boon for staff creativity and talent acquisition.

“It’s nice to be in a building where everyone gets that culture and community really matter,” she said. “In the parking lot, you’re surrounded by other people who are eager to go in and start their day. You don’t see people in their cars waiting for 8:30.”

VP of Talent Kelly Gliatta has been with the company since its early days inside a residential office. “You don’t see people waiting in their car until 8:30 a.m. here.”

One of WorkWave’s standards is regular one-on-ones between managers and their team members. Instead of sitting in a conference room with a structured to-do list, she said, they’re taking up the habit of walking meetings, down glass corridors, through the atrium, and even onto the roof deck overlooking the lake. “All those discussions become conversations,” Gliatta said. Now you start talking about, I had this random question, or the big idea you don’t have time to think about. It helps you be creative.”

As VP of Talent, Gliatta’s job has gotten a lot more interesting at Bell Works. When she was in Neptune she said, “We were a big secret.”

“Two years ago candidates would tell us, ‘I stumbled upon your name. I happened to see your posting.’ A year later, it’s, ‘I’ve heard about you. I’ve been following you.’ Now that we’re here, the awareness of us is bigger. We have a better opportunity to meet people who are going to the city because they don’t think they can find a tech job in New Jersey.”

Every few months WorkWave holds a speed dating style career fair for talent of all levels. And each time the crowd grows. “There’s an increased awareness that you can be in New Jersey and have a cool job.”

Bell Works didn’t kick off the energy that drives WorkWave (it was a great company before it got here), but it did channel it, like a wave coming into a cove and standing up high as it runs over shallow ground.

A WorkWave team holds an informal meeting in the Big Bang Cafe.

Gliatta can see it. “Collaboration is happening a lot more in this space,” she said.

Sure, the WorkWave team was growing and thriving in Neptune. Happy with their catered Surf Taco lunches and a walk around the parking lot on a sunny day. Filling their teams with skilled software engineers and customer service reps who “give a damn” and “challenge the status quo”, two of their six corporate values. They didn’t know yet that there were bigger, better waves up north in the metroburb where the roofs are glass and the sun pours in everyday for your walking meeting at 3 p.m.

“That’s the rub,” Gliatta says, “Until you’re here and you’re in this space, you don’t know what you’re missing.”

Find the space your company’s been missing. Download the case study of the WorkWave move.

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