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A TRULY CREATIVE SPACE Dropbox’s Erik Selvig just finished the opening of the company’s new headquarters in San Francisco, which offers increased opportunities for creativity and collaboration by Kat Silverstein

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ow do you find office space in the heart of San Francisco’s South of Market district and turn it into the type of workplace that attracts in-demand tech talent, increases productivity, and allows for a rapidly expanding workforce, while staying within budget? Ask Erik Selvig, global head of facilities for Dropbox, a leading provider of file-sharing and collaboration services. Selvig recently checked off each of these boxes as he complet-

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ed the company’s move to its new headquarters in the sought-after area. “San Francisco is an aggressive market,” he says. “We had to find the right space and be able to move on it quickly. We took on what seemed like a massive amount of space at the time, but with our rapidly expanding workforce, by the time we got the space fully designed, we were worried that we would outgrow the building before we could even get it completed.”

In an effort to be as efficient as possible with space and to ensure that Dropbox would have room for its growing workforce, the company’s design team made the decision to reduce personal desk size just before construction started. This allowed the company to add density without reducing common space and amenities. “We want people to get away from their desks and collaborate,” Selvig says. “What we’re trying to do is create an environment that makes people happy to be in the office, but also drives productivity.” Dropbox’s team of architects and planners intentionally included just one restaurant in an office that serves hundreds of plates per meal. That way, Selvig says, everybody bumps into each other. “The chance meetings and encounters that happen by creating more common spaces can actually lead to more productivity and product innovation,” he says. To that end, there is also a library, gym, and other common areas that are equipped with Wi-Fi. Creating common, collaborative spaces isn’t just important for staff productivity, but it’s also an important recruitment tool in San Francisco’s competitive technology sector, where hiring good talent is a constant challenge. “We need to give our employees compelling spaces that delight the eye and the user, but are also functional and managed efficiently,” Selvig says. In his many years managing facilities for different start-up companies, Selvig learned that both function and affordability need to come before amenities and “wow” factor—no matter how fierce the competition for talent might be. “In San Francisco, real estate is incredibly expensive,” he explains. “In a tech environment, you need to make sure the amenity mix you have makes sense for the business. If you have a conference center that ends up just being used once a week and you are busting at the seams, is that a good use of space? “It is not enough to have amazing spaces— you have to also ensure you are providing value for the money committed to real estate. I am very aware that every dollar I spend is one less dollar we can invest in the business. With

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American Builders Quarterly #63