hybris eyes triathlon-themed Boulder office
Mar 27, 2013 (Colorado Daily - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
E-commerce software provider hybris has offices all over the world, including Australia, Switzerland, Brazil and Canada, but soon, the company wants to open a Boulder branch.
The Boulder branch will be different -- the company plans for it to be triathlon-themed.
Marc Graveline, the company's vice president of engineering research and development, is an avid triathlete. Last September, after months of recruiting troubles, Graveline said it dawned on him: endurance athletes make great employees, why not draw them to hybris by creating a space where it's OK to train and maintain a real work-life balance.
"We're growing incredibly quickly," Graveline said. "A big part of that growth is fueled by new employees -- software engineers. They're in high demand, so we're looking for ways to differentiate ourselves. Myself being a triathlete, I recognize the challenge of work and training, and I also recognize the type of character that triathletes are -- relatively hard-working, focused, willing to sacrifice, want to win."
He ran the idea by Jordan Rapp, a triathlete and Princeton graduate with an engineering degree who came out of school facing a choice between racing or working -- but not both. Rapp liked the idea, and the two brainstormed the best way to pitch the idea to the company's board.
The higher-ups were immediately sold on the idea, said Graveline, who lives in Montreal.
He convinced them with the math. The company spends, on average, $10,000 per employee in recruiting costs. Once they arrive, they buy the highest-quality chairs and desks, which can run in the range of $1,500.
The Boulder location, which hasn't yet been decided on, will include CompuTrainers (indoor stationary bikes), a gym stocked with exercise equipment, a massage therapist and team coach. The company says ideally it would like to open its Boulder office by May or June.
"The training equipment is no more expensive than chairs and desks," Graveline said. "Yes, you need a couple more square feet, but it makes sense."
It's not just hybris -- which works with companies from Starbucks to Levi's -- that's struggling to recruit top talent in the software industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 30 percent growth within the field by 2020, which translates to 270,900 jobs. And those are good jobs, too -- the median salary for a software developer was $90,530 in 2010, and entry-level positions require only a bachelor's degree.
Lots of companies offer perks like on-site gyms or discounted gym memberships. Graveline says the Boulder location won't be an office with a gym attached but an entire company culture based around an active lifestyle.
"We want to create this train-together environment," he said. "That means building the work schedule around training for groups. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., no one schedules any meetings so we can go out and run as a group or bike as a group."
That team environment will also include racing together and training together after-hours. The hope is that by spending time together not specifically allocated for work, new ideas and innovations will surface as employees start chatting on their rides and runs.
"Face time is critical," Graveline said. "Going out and riding together, it creates this environment where you do share ideas and concerns and clear things up."
Boulder resident Whitney Rogers, who's working as a Boulder liaison for the company, said she started dabbling in triathlons in 2010. She was working for a defense contractor at the time and found herself having a hard time squeezing in workouts before the sun went down.
"If I had to work late, I would have to sacrifice my workout," Rogers said. "Hearing about this new idea that hybris has come up with, it would be really great not to have to make those sacrifices anymore. I could do my workout in the day, and stay a little bit later to get my tasks done. It's the best of both worlds. "
Boulder professional triathlete Jimmy Archer said the idea is a good one, but one that would probably only work for amateur or semi-professional athletes.
In order to compete internationally, professionals train six to eight hours each day and travel all over the world to compete -- which wouldn't work well with a Monday through Friday workweek, he said.
But for an aspiring professional -- someone just on the cusp of making it -- having a full-time job would help fund their travel and race costs.
"For more of the average Boulderite, it's awesome. So many people are slaves to the cubicle. Who wouldn't want a job that would give them some free time to actually have a life "
--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.
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