A source of motivation
Most of the 57 employees at Telnyx are engineers, and everyone’s days are long —12-hour workdays are not uncommon— and involve a lot of focused, individual work.
Telnyx competes for talent against the big-name tech companies. They can’t outspend these recruiting rivals, so they use other means.
“How do you intrinsically motivate people?” asks Casem. “Meaningful work. Setting up people to succeed. Creating a great environment where people spend the majority of their weekday waking hours. The work environment has a direct influence on what people produce.”
He says start-up companies often buy bare bones furniture “to impress their investors that they’re doing things economically. I think that’s penny wise and pound foolish. If you amortize the cost over five years, you make all your money back and more, when you take into account the total cost of your most expensive resource, your people.”
Casem isn’t blue-skying. He learned early on to measure how the workplace can help his business. “We’ve always been crazy about metrics as a company,” he says, so when Telnyx installed a pair of workstations with height-adjustable tables and ergonomic chairs a few years ago, they conducted an internal study to determine if the team benefited from the new furniture.
“We saw empirical evidence that an improved work environment made a huge difference in productivity.”
“‘How do you intrinsically motivate people?’ Meaningful work. Setting up people to succeed. Creating a great environment where people spend the majority of their weekday waking hours. The work environment has a direct influence on what people produce.”
David Casem – Telnyx CEO
When it was time for a new workplace, Telnyx further embraced space as a tool to help their business.
Telnyx’s Chicago headquarters is a welcoming loft space with wood beams and floors, brick walls and plenty of daylight from tall windows. To complement their open plan workstations, seven enclosed, glass-front rooms (“hubs”) are available for collaboration, private conversations, as well as the the occasional nap.
Each employee’s workstation features an Airtouch height adjustable table, with low Answer panels for routing power and defining individual spaces. A SOTO mobile caddy for personal work items, a travel bag or purse, nests under the desk.
The height-adjustable desks allow users to change posture throughout the day and encourages movement – important to their physical wellbeing. “The Airtouch tables are modular, moveable, have lots of workspace and plenty of room for two monitors. They’re sturdy, and give you all that range from standing up to sitting down,” says Ian Reither, COO. “Over the course of the day, you see heads popping up and down. People use the height adjustability a lot.”
Telnyx employees have height-adjustable desks which allow them to change posture throughout the day and encourage movement – important to their physical wellbeing.
Ming Huynh is one of them. A computer engineer, Huynh uses height adjustability as a kind of collaboration tool. “I change the height of my desk pretty frequently. I also go to stand-up height when I collaborate with other people, because I can get more people around my desk when we’re standing.”
Some companies are concerned about distractions in open plan workspaces. Telnyx says employee communication and collaboration across teams outweigh any disadvantages. The open plan also promotes transparency, a core value of the company.
“I like the open space. Especially in a company like this, where we’re growing so fast, it gives you a collaborative vibe, which is what we need. If it gets too loud, we have all these enclosed hubs,” says Jessica Allison, account executive.
At one end of the office, an open area with Akira tables and QiVi collaborative chairs has multiple uses. Small teams push a few tables together for a meeting; individuals plunk down with a laptop for a change of workspace; groups gather for lunch. All-hands meetings take place there each week, with the Dublin office and remote team members from Argentina, Estonia, and other locations via video conference on large, flat-screen monitors. “The monitor looks like the Brady Bunch opening,” says Allison.
On the opposite end of the office is a large, glass-front conference room for customer visits and team meetings. A line of SW_1 tables, two of which were acquired a few years ago, are ganged together to form a large, collaborative meeting table.
Telnyx plans to grow and has planned for a work environment that can accommodate up to 70 employees. An office in Dublin recently opened, and the company plans to equip the 15 employees there just like the folks in Chicago. Even their remote contract workers may soon have workspaces to match.
“From the beginning, it’s been a core value of ours to buy quality equipment that’ll last for a long time. We give people the best possible tooling — furniture, laptops, any technology they interface with to do their job efficiently— so people don’t have any impediments in getting their work done,” says COO Reither.
That strategic investment is paying off.
Rising close rate
“We’ve definitely seen a jump in our close rate for employee candidates,” says Reither, “once we get them in the door and show them what it’s like to actually be in this office.”
“A week or two after we onboard employees, we hear things like, “‘Wow, I never realized how much more productive I could be in this sort of environment,’” says Casem.
Employee turnover at Telnyx is half the industry average.
Telnyx’s data shows that a better workplace not only boosts productivity, it correlates with employee retention. Employee turnover rates for Fortune 500 companies in IT are the highest of any industry. “Turnover can be 15 or 20 percent at times,” says Casem. “At Telnyx, we’re in the single digits.”
Architecture and Design: Gensler
Steelcase Dealer: Forward Space
Steelcase Inc. Products:
Airtouch height-adjustable tables
Answer panel systems
Akira height adjustable tables
Montara and SW_1 conference tables
Gesture and Think desk seating
buoy, i2i, and QiVi collaborative seating
Enea conference seating
Bob, Lagunitas, and SW_1 lounge seating
Move side seating
SOTO organizational worktools
RoomWizard scheduling system