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Why Our Office Is Important to Us

"Your office is your brand."

I heard this on a podcast a few weeks ago and it's stayed with me. When people come to visit our office, they seem surprised at the surroundings. We're an EdTech company. We develop software that allows students to take tests at any time or any place around the globe. So why do we need a small film studio? Or what's with the meditation garden? And why a pizza oven?

Three reasons: We're a company that is design-centered, people-centered and we're in this for the long haul.

Design is not just graphics and font size. It's a philosophy. It's a choice about what we believe in and how we communicate that to the people who use our product. We've put a lot of effort and resources into honing the design of Proctorio. It's not about our product looking good. It's about our product making sense. The move to online education has been jarring for some people. This is, after all, an industry that dates back thousands of years. A lot has changed in a short amount of time. Making our product as accessible as possible is key to more people embracing these technological advances and the doors that they can open up. That's why we have a small studio where we can film videos that not only explain what our product does, but how it impacts lives.

Design is not just siloed in one department, either. It's part of the DNA of the company. Our office is decorated with memorabilia from sci-fi movies. Some people think it's just a cool thing to have. But it's much more than that. When I was a boy, movies and tv shows about space and other worlds on other planets spurred my interest in technology. Science fiction often becomes science fact. We're asking the members of our team to come up with new ideas that can change a student's trajectory. Our office needs to be a place of inspiration, of possibility.

When we started Proctorio nine years ago, we were never into the usual trappings of start-up offices. No foosball. No ping pong tables. We didn't break the bank on IKEA bean bags. I wanted things that were real amenities for the people working here. That includes security. Everyone here has an electronic key that gets them access to the building and to their office. It's a constant reminder that data privacy is at the heart of what we do. That includes food. We provide meals every day including pizza on Fridays. That includes sustainability. We had solar panels installed on the parking roof last year and we now generate clean energy that powers our servers working to improve our algorithm. That also includes wellness. We've just put the finishing touches on a meditation garden in the building where employees can take a break from their work and recharge in peace.

We focus so much on the built environment of our office because we plan on being here for a long time. Years ago, Proctorio joined the Evergreen movement as part of the Tugboat Institute. This makes us a bit of an outlier in the tech community. Evergreen companies aren't looking for an exit. We're not looking to cash out and leave the industry. We're looking to leave a legacy. We'll celebrate our ten year anniversary next April. Some of the universities we work with have been around for hundreds of years. Our office is a statement to our partners that they can count on us to always provide the best service. It's a statement to our employees that they can build a career here. And it's a statement to our industry that we plan to be at the center of this movement that is expanding access to lifelong learning.

So, if it's true that your office is your brand, this is what that means to me when I look around our building. We stand for accessible design: every student deserves an education, whether they're in a wheelchair or on the spectrum, in low income housing in the city or a farm in the countryside. We stand for personal and professional growth: our employees can start in one department and be inspired to rise through the ranks in another. And we stand for innovation: renewed investment in this office is the ultimate form of that oldest of tech goals, constant iteration.

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