Cut the commute: 5 Colorado tech companies with offices in Boulder and Denver

April 12, 2018

If you’ve ever driven US 36 during rush hour, you know just how many people make the daily commute between Boulder and Denver. Regardless of which city a tech company decides to locate, its team will inevitably end up with a mix of both Denverites and Boulderites.

And as companies grow, many teams decide to set up a second shop in another city. With that comes some obvious benefits, but also some not-so-obvious challenges.

We talked to five Colorado tech companies that split their teams between Boulder and Denver (and beyond) about the upsides of having a dispersed team and how they do it without sacrificing culture.

 

Zayo Group Boulder Denver offices Colorado
Photo courtesy of Zayo Group.

Zayo provides bandwidth and connectivity services over its massive communications infrastructure, enabling big businesses to scale their networks and adapt to rapidly changing demand. Lissa Bricker, director of community and university relations, explained how a company with offices not only in Boulder and Denver but all around the world maintains a tight-knit culture.

 

Which came first: Denver or Boulder?

Our original office was in Boulder, just west of the Pearl Street Mall. Today, Zayo’s headquarters are located in the 29th Street Mall in Boulder. We have approximately 450 employees based in our Boulder offices. Our flagship office in Denver is located across from Union Station. There are approximately 300 employees in this office and several other small Denver offices in our data centers. Our large offices have access to public transportation and bike shares, as well as restaurants, retail, fitness and other services literally right outside our front door.

Creating and maintaining a vibrant, unified culture is a priority for us, especially because we’ve grown through more than 40 acquisitions."

How do you maintain a strong, cohesive company culture and ensure employees feel connected — wherever they are?

Creating and maintaining a vibrant, unified culture is a priority for us, especially because we’ve grown through more than 40 acquisitions. Last year, we made a concerted effort to align everyone with our mission, vision and values, which guide what we do as a business and how we do it.

Technology also plays an important role in communications and culture. We use Zoom as a video collaboration tool and SalesForce Chatter to share information in real time. All employees are able to follow others and post questions to any group. Zoom allows for people to see each other during meetings or one-off conversations, which supports collaboration and a cohesive culture.

 

What are some of the benefits of having offices in Boulder and Denver, both for the company and for your employees?

Zayo benefits from offices located in the heart of our communities, providing proximity to customers located up and down the Front Range and across the state. We’re also able to attract a broader base of talent with multiple Colorado locations. Our flagship offices provide access to multiple types of transportation, restaurants, stores and attractions, including sports, music, galleries and museums. We are also highly engaged with our communities and Colorado’s universities, typically located near our offices.

 

Greystone Technologies Boulder Denver offices Colorado
Photo courtesy of Greystone Technologies.

Greystone Technology delivers fully outsourced and managed IT services to small and midsize organizations, bringing IT out of the server closet and integrating it into the day-to-day business. The company’s steady growth made opening a second office in Boulder an obvious solution. Director of People and Culture Sarah Bernhardt shared how they’ve taken action to keep everyone connected.

 

Which came first: Denver or Boulder?

Greystone was founded in Denver in 2001, and the first “office” was the neighborhood bar. As we added team members, we realized we needed a dedicated space and moved into the building we’re in now near Cherry Creek. The first office we occupied was about 500 square feet with a handful of people, and today we have over 50 people in closer to 9,000 square feet.

As we grew our Denver location, we found that we were earning more business in the Boulder area, and the commute to serve those clients was getting taxing. The Boulder office started with one dedicated person in 2012 and has grown over 50 percent in the past year.

We’ve realized that as connected as we want to be, each location will have its own personality and that’s OK."

How do you maintain a strong, cohesive company culture and ensure employees feel connected — wherever they are?

Team members have brought up a feeling of disconnection between our locations over the years, and we’ve actively worked to combat it. We have three locations: Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins. To stay connected, we hold monthly coffee catch-ups, which are a morning video conference between offices to get aligned on what’s going on within the organization; monthly team events (like beer and board games), where our core services team members participate in events for each office; and we hold quarterly team rallies when the entire company comes together for an afternoon.  

We’ve realized that as connected as we want to be, each location will have its own personality and that’s OK. Forcing “sameness” among the offices hasn’t worked for us.

 

What are some of the benefits of having offices in Boulder and Denver, both for the company and for your employees?

We like being local to the businesses that we serve. Not only does it mean that we can respond quickly to their needs, but it helps us understand the cultural nuances that exist in each region. The multiple locations can also make recruiting easier; we have a position open right now that could be situated in any one of the three offices, allowing candidates from multiple metro areas to consider working for Greystone.

We have some team members that live right between all three locations, and they have the ability to work in whatever location suits them best. We have folks who have started with Greystone in Denver, then transitioned to Boulder later in their career with us. We appreciate the flexibility that our multiple locations provide, and many of our team members do, too.  

 

The Trade Desk Boulder Denver offices Colorado
Photo courtesy of The Trade Desk.

The Trade Desk’s demand-side advertising platform enables buyers to more effectively manage their ad campaigns. The company launched its Denver office at the end of last year, and Casey Rabiea, senior talent acquisition associate, shed some light on the evolution of their dual offices.

 

Which came first: Denver or Boulder?

The TTD Boulder office came first. It was founded back in 2012, and we have roughly 60 employees in that office today. We opened up a Denver office in the LoHi WeWork space at the end of 2017 and have about 12 employees who work there currently — and growing. We may be moving into a new Denver office soon in the same area.

Both offices have the same perks: free breakfast and lunch a couple times a week, snacks, unlimited coffee, tea and kombucha, and both offices are dog friendly.

The cool thing about working at TTD is that your work is almost never contingent upon your geographic location." 

How do you maintain a strong, cohesive company culture and ensure employees feel connected — wherever they are?

Communication, sharing and spreading knowledge and not having a project assigned to a specific location. The cool thing about working at TTD is that your work is almost never contingent upon your geographic location — especially within the engineering organization. All of our engineering teams are globally distributed, so we pride ourselves on having a culture that fosters communication.

That said, we also encourage folks in the Boulder office to work out of the Denver office once in a while, and vice versa. We have TTD happy hours in both cities and also host fun team-building events in both locations for all Colorado-based employees (ex: Rockies games, Unser go-kart racing, escape rooms, picnics, etc).

 

What are some of the benefits of having offices in Boulder and Denver, both for the company and for your employees?

For the employees, a shorter commute, of course. For the company, a larger candidate pool.

 

CA Technologies Boulder Denver offices Colorado
Photo courtesy of CA Technologies.

CA Technologies builds software and provides a variety of IT services to businesses in a range of industries. Senior product owner Farnaz Sharifian and scrum master Cassie Kern weighed in on how they help their Boulder and Denver teams bond.

 

Which came first: Denver or Boulder?

Boulder came first. We have about 204 people in Boulder and about 58 people in Denver. Both offices are open concept with bright colors, paired programming stations and fun huddle spaces with quirky names.

In our company, we value open communication through in-person interactions or via remote channels."

How do you maintain a strong, cohesive company culture and ensure employees feel connected — wherever they are?

In our company, we value open communication through in-person interactions or via remote channels such as Flowdock and LifeSize — both tools support video collaboration. We have working agreements to respect the remote culture to ensure we encourage cross-office collaboration.  

We also like to keep a light and fun office culture by organizing quarterly team outings, costume-themed organizational events and cross-office competitions, and by offering perks such as ping-pong and foosball tables and beer kegs. We make time for face-to-face appreciations in our organizational meetings.

 

What are some of the benefits of having offices in Boulder and Denver, both for the company and for your employees?

The largest benefits we see to having both offices is that it allows us to recruit from a larger geographic region and allows employees to have more control over their commuting time.

 

Tendril Boulder Denver offices Colorado
Photo courtesy of Tendril.

Tendril’s Energy Services Platform connects energy providers with consumers, helping them to better engage, inform and understand the behavior of the people they serve. CTO Jake Meier discussed how the company fosters two unique but connected cultures.

 

Which came first: Denver or Boulder?

Tendril was founded in Boulder, and we opened our Denver office in 2016. The Boulder office currently has 90 employees and the Denver office has 25 employees and is located in the INDUSTRY workspace.

We’ve actually learned the best way to think about culture for satellite offices is to think about them as siblings rather than twins." 

How do you maintain a strong, cohesive company culture and ensure employees feel connected — wherever they are?

We’ve actually learned the best way to think about culture for satellite offices is to think about them as siblings rather than twins. Each office will have their own personalities and they don’t need to replicate each other. We do work hard to encourage communication between the offices and conduct a weekly all-hands meeting via Webex (with video) as well as quarterly on-site all-company events. We also encourage employees to use video conferencing for as many meetings as possible.

 

What are some of the benefits of having offices in Boulder and Denver, both for the company and for your employees?

The biggest attraction is the ability to source talent in two separate cities, giving us a much larger pool to recruit from. Shortening commutes and offering flexibility is also hugely beneficial for morale and retention. We’ve also found that Denver has more real estate flexibility, which gives us more options as our team continues to grow.

 

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