Our business is built on helping businesses make courageous decisions to grow, so it should come as no surprise that while other tech players pivoted to an indefinite work-from-home model, Keen instead leaned in to offer employees a safe, spacious option for continued collaboration and connection.

You might wonder why, as CFO, I supported such a novel approach? Why waste money, time and resources (Did I mention money?) on an office, when masks, social distancing and other restrictions deter us from gathering in person?

When I joined Keen we were 22 employees nestled in a small co-working space. We knew the next move would be to find a permanent home capable of supporting our rapid, strong growth trajectory.

COVID hit just as we were preparing to sign on the dotted line for our new home at The Frontier in RTP–a location perfectly situated for visiting clients and for our regionally dispersed team. I’d be lying if I say we didn’t pause, pens poised, in making this decision at the height of the pandemic.

The Power of Flexibility and Choice

Here’s why we determined that new office space, even now, was exactly the right move for Keen for continued success. Our CEO, Greg Dolan, founded Keen with a “people first” mindset. That’s why our company policies are based on trust, flexibility and employees’ needs. The ability to work from home was not new to Keen; in fact, it always has been part of our culture.  We believe that people should work where they feel the most productive, making the hybrid in office and remote work a staple of Keen, even post-COVID.

But then our friends June and Toula, from Go-od Consulting, asked a great question:

“You guys know how to do work remotely, but do you know how to connect remotely?”

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Their insight confirmed that it is face-to-face collaboration that breaks down barriers and builds relationships, especially cross-functionally. Water-cooler talk, as they call it, isn’t an option on Zoom. Yet Zoom fatigue is very real, leaving many employees exhausted by its performance demands.

Have you ever ended a zoom meeting only to remember what you meant to ask your coworker just as they hung up? Me too. What follows that moment is typically endless chatter on Teams or Slack that often falls short of what might have been shared in-person. Or worse, you just move on to the next item on your “To Do” list and the moment passes you by entirely.

Three-dimensional, in-person interactions are the reason I know the names of my coworkers’ dogs, kids and favorite beverages, but just as importantly it’s also why Keen’s enjoyed fast, smooth momentum and an amazingly unified culture as it scales.

Preserving Our Culture in The Midst of Uncertainty

Culture has been a cornerstone to Keen’s rapid ascent. Our fresh new office showcases our progress, as well as our values of trust, collaboration and teamwork. We continue to offer team members flexibility and choice, given the uncertainty surrounding COVID. Yet our open floor plan, abundance of natural light and array of work areas make social distancing easy, and our hospital-grade HVAC systems ensure high air quality standards.

As we settle into our new home, we are already imagining the days when our office will be bustling once again with excited, passionate “Keenans”– that will be the best payoff of all.