Running a startup can be very exciting in so many ways, but one of the most rewarding achievements is when you get to grow your team. This is the situation we found ourselves in last year in 2019.
Towards the end of the year we had so many employees, that we were split between two offices and we were actively looking for new space. When we found prime office space on Alameda Principal, the main street in Malaga, we couldn't believe our luck.
We started planning. We signed the rental contract, we hired a design agency, and started planning our growth. Little did we know that a global pandemic was brewing, ready to throw a wrench in the whole thing.
Growing Our Team
Plytix has been around since 2015. In classic start up form, we have been through our fair share of dramatic events. Every year we almost run out of money, we've had to fire a whole team and start from scratch, and we've pivoted our product. In 2018, things started picking up and by 2019 we started hiring.
Hiring, on its own, is a sign of growth (at least it should be if you're doing things right). It reflects some degree of success that a company requires more brains, hands, and feet to keep moving and handling demand.
As a founder, I enjoy hiring. It comes with a lot of satisfaction. Knowing that the company you built is growing is one thing, but the other thing that interests me (probably more) is not necessarily the number of employees, but rather getting to know the personal story of each person who ends up at our door eager to join the team. Plytix has people from all over the world: Spain, Denmark, Ireland, United States, Romania, Brazil and Germany to name a few. Their backgrounds are fascinating and varied, contributing to the diversity of the team.
But there is a flip side to the fun of growing a team: figuring out where to put them all. Employees need a place to work; and the more you grow, the closer you are to always running out of space. I know this rule is not as prevailing as it used to be, thanks to remote work. But even though we offer truly flexible work schedules with the option work remote even before COVID, we have always had high demand for in-office presence. With the size of our team and the strength of our culture, most people who work remotely only do so 3 or 4 out of 5 days so that they can connect with their colleagues.
By the end of 2019 we had to face the facts: our old offices were not working out. It was becoming uncomfortable to work there. We didn’t have facilities to run casual or formal meetings, or even receive a visit from a client. And it would only get worse, as we needed to hire more.
Making the Leap
We started to make moves to find a new home for Plytix. We found an office we loved in a great location and got to work. What were we looking for? Our checklist of must-haves included:
- A well-connected central location that was easy to access by the majority of the team. We were keen on having bars, restaurants and coffee shops within walking distance too so that our team could spontaneously decide to get a chance of scenery if they wanted.
- Lots of natural light. We did not want to have our team feel like they were locked in a cave. We're located in southern Spain; why not take advantage of the resources we have!
- High ceilings. This was so that the space wouldn't feel so confining and the ventilation and airflow would be better. We even considered warehouses to achieve this!
After an intensive search and a lot of visits we found the perfect place: an entire floor in a historic corner building in the very heart of Málaga, Alameda Principal. It certainly helped that the Alameda was being refurbished to accommodate more pedestrian traffic and a metro, and that it is smack dab in the centre of Málaga!
The centre is the best connected area in the city, it has endless options for hanging out and the building has high ceilings and lots of balconies that let natural light in from almost anywhere.
We agreed on terms and signed the office in late January. By then we had found an architecture and interior design studio that would help us through the process of getting the coolest offices we could ever have imagined, custom made for our team.
We decided to kick off a project that we expected to last only a few months. "We'll be in a new office come April!" we told ourselves, not knowing that the COVID-19 pandemic was about to break out right after we made the first demolition on week two of our renovation.
It ended up taking almost an entire year to complete.
Renovation During Lockdown
What we were expecting to last 2-3 months ended up being a 7-month project, with lots of ups and downs and uncertainties. The renovation was paused for the 2 months of hard lockdown Spain went through. A renovation needs site visits, materials, construction workers, and permits and even after the restrictions began lifting, everything we needed was delayed indefinitely or slowed to a crawl.
Then it fell into summer, when everything slows down if not stops on a normal year. Needless to say this year was a bit slower. With many of our team clamouring at the bit to get out of their apartments and back into an office and we ended up making the decision to move into the space before it was 100% finished.
This, in the end, was beneficial. It allowed us to slowly return to the office (only a few returned in the first two weeks) so we were able to test COVID policies and practices with a limited number of people.
Our New Home
Now that everything is completed, a whole year after we decided to find a new, bigger office, we can only be glad that we did it. We now have the majority of our team under one roof and a space we designed and made our own.
There are so many things about the process that could be told, things that didn’t go as expected, and now we’re indeed sitting in the coolest offices we could have ever imagined. The distribution of space, sound proofing, decor and flow all contribute to an atmosphere that makes working from the office a real pleasure. We’re so proud of what we have, and the team is happier than ever with the facilities.
But yet, since it took so long to do the renovations, now we are sitting here with our desks slowly filling up wondering when (and where) our next expansion will be.