When I moved to San Francisco in 2011 for Expensify, I was moving across the country to a city where I knew a whopping two people amongst a city of 825,000. Those two really adopted me at first and helped introduce me to a number of great people. However, being passionate about what I was doing had me working really late hours and so our schedules just never lined up.
And with that excuse, I started to worry that I wasn’t going to make friends in the city. I found myself constantly talking to my coworkers about this: over lunch, after work at the bars, during spontaneous weekend adventures, and even during the trips overseas for our annual offshore where we’d spend a month+ working and traveling together.
And then I realized that I had actually made a ton of really close friends in the city – and over the course of my years at Expensify, I’d been a part of hiring and relocating them to San Francisco as well.
The thing is, these aren’t just close friends now. I work with family. Expensify is family. After spending 50+ hours a week in the office with my coworkers getting sh*! done, you might be surprised at how many hours we spend out of the office together. Outside of the apartments that Expensifiers live in together (my roommate included), almost every day people are meeting up outside the office and spending time together. It doesn’t matter what team you’re on, what your role is in the company, or even if you don’t really drink alcohol – we work hard, play hard, together.
Over half of the Expensify team in San Francisco relocated to the Bay Area from a different country or time zone – almost all of them not knowing any more people here when they first arrived than I did. But I would say that every single one of them now has a group of people they can rely on both in the office and outside.
When I describe Expensify to outsiders, I use the phrase “family style” – we’ve no private offices, cubicles, or even dedicated desks. What we do have are three mega tables that we all just plop our laptops down on when we show up in the morning and work from there. Or if you’re needing to relax a bit more, we’ve mini living rooms and couches scattered throughout the office that you can take a call in, have a quick meeting, or even a quick nap. We leverage that flexibility to sit where it makes the most sense for whatever you’re working on. If you’re an engineer and needing to build something for a sales guy – just pick up your laptop and go sit next to him. This works for every team and every person in the office. Even our CEO David has his legs kicked up at these tables throughout the day. And almost no one ever gets lunch without a posse of the team with them.
But that family style extends way after we leave the office. When we found out the majority of our international team hadn’t celebrated a proper Halloween before, we got a van and picked pumpkins for carving. We celebrate birthdays together. We meet parents when they visit the city. I’ve spent almost every single one of the last three years’ holidays with this family and we have had a great time.
We push each other in and out of the office to grow as professionals and in life. Our relationship is borderline unhealthy but we leverage that to get better context in how people are doing and how to continue making Expensify awesome together.
This work/life balance isn’t for everyone, but it works for us. And to me that’s what matters the most. There are so many different types of workplaces out there that can meet different needs. But we’ve really tried to figure out what works best for the people we love to work with, and have spent years building a culture of community and family that I’m personally so proud to be a part of. Expensify: Expense reports that don’t suck and a work environment that doesn’t either.
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