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May 20, 2014

Why An Office is Still Necessary

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For those of you who have enjoyed watching the Zula team roll up our sleeves up and getting our hands dirty with paint, flooring, and furniture construction – you might be asking yourselves the question that I have been asked many times over the last few weeks: Why does the Zula team need an office? As great believers in the power of our own application to foster a dynamic team conversation, why would we actually need to sit in close proximity to one another?

Having spent about 7 years as a Global Product Manager at IBM, and traveling to customers all over the world not less then once every two months during that time – I can vouch for the fact that the power of people actually sitting and talking in a room together never ceases to be surprisingly effective, as well as often delightful. There is simply no other way for a product manager to really understand their customers other then being in the same physical location, understanding their office environment, and getting to know them and their team personally.

On one business trip to St Louis, a senior architect at a large US bank asked me if she could take me shopping before I flew back to Israel. What began as a pleasant couple of hours together in Target led to a fantastic working relationship. My new friend became someone who was always available when I needed outside input to prioritize new development. I can continue with similar stories that encapsulate the need for quality time spent with colleagues, but as they say, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

If fostering a personal connection is the key to creating a rapport with your customers, it’s that much more true for your work team. You are working together to create something great with many challenges along the way. There are fun times, hard times, rough times, and, yes, even fights – as we are each passionate about what we do. It is not unheard of to spend more hours in the day with our work “family” then with our family at home. To do that effectively, significant face to face time is necessary. The human factor is priceless. Our team meetings are the best time of the week, and I am hoping that our new office inspires us to hold them daily!

Even when we sit together, we use Zula to share documents and work together through checklists. When we are not together in person, the conversation keeps flowing as if we were. So yes, the Zula team has an office, and we hope you can stop by for a visit!

– Jo Friedman, VP Products