Bandwith dedicates its new HQ today – CEO says ‘Bandwidth Way’ is crucial to its future

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Triangle born Bandwidth, a provider of various communications services with a global reach and a client base including some of the world’s best known companies, is dedicating its new $100 million headquarters campus today. And CEO as well as founder David Morken takes great pride in what the multi-building HQ (“Bandmate Way”) means to him, employees and customers.

While work-from-home and work-from-anywhere has accelerated since the COVID pandemic, Morken instead chose to invest in brick-and-mortar. The company, which went public in 2017, requires that most employees work in offices, and Morken says there are good reasons for that.

 The campus is built on a 40-acre property at 2201 Edwards Mill Road (address: 2230 Bandmate Way). It includes two five-story buildings covering a combined 450,000 square feet. Beyond that, the campus will include an Olympic-size soccer field, a basketball court, walking trails, an amphitheater and gym facilities.

In advance on the opening, TechWire talks with Morken about what’s happening today and its meaning in an exclusive Q&A.

Bandwidth CEO David Morken on the day Bandwidth went public in December 2017. Source: Bandwidth

  • David, what is the most significant reason why you decided to build a corporate campus? What is its meaning to the company?

With this new campus, along with upgrades we have made to all our global facilities, Bandwidth has raised the bar on what it means to be together, physically, in the workplace.

When we work together, innovating and collaborating, magic happens. It creates a vitality and a spirit that elevates how we achieve our mission to serve our customers.

An aerial rendering of Bandwidth’s new HQ. (Bandwidth image)

  • Given the growth of virtual work and work from anywhere trends, why invest in brick-and-mortar? How did you make your case to the board and to investors?

In a season of austerity and layoffs at other companies, we have made this investment in our Bandmates because we believe it will lead to even greater job satisfaction, technology innovation, financial growth, and customer success. That’s the business case.

And we’ve seen the power of our unique culture proven out over and over, in examples such as our long history of revenue growth, including 23 consecutive quarters exceeding our quarterly guidance on all our metrics, since going public in 2017.

Another example: in March, we won Best of Show at the most important global event in our tech space, beating much larger players, for a new innovation developed through close collaboration that we believe helped us go faster and think bigger.

A rendering of the meeting space planned at Bandwidth’s headquarters. (Bandwidth image)

  • Second, why pick Raleigh? Did you consider other locations, and if so where?

North Carolina is in our roots, so it was unthinkable to follow the familiar path of moving to Silicon Valley. While we did consider other locations in the Triangle, we were determined to remain in the heart of the rich ecosystem of tech talent, premiere universities and tech companies here.

West Raleigh emerged as central to where our people live, and easy for our customers to reach from the airport. On our campus, native North Carolina-influenced building design integrates with landscaping that echoes our beautiful state, from the mountains to the coast.

And there are over 2,000 trees and native plantings, connections to miles of greenways, a new pond habitat, apiary, and a “Barn” meeting space with 200-year-old lumber salvaged from the Rocky Mount Mill (built in 1816).

  • What’s the status of your requirements for employees to work in the office? Will having new office space with amenities provide a boost in your view?

We’ve been back in the office full-time in person since last fall. Our culture is thriving. But of course, we’re all super excited about moving into Bandmate Way in just two weeks.

And while we are exceptionally proud of the physical space we’ve built, the most priceless gift Bandwidth can give to its Bandmates is not the gym, not a phenomenal workspace, not a 5-star cafeteria, not an onsite Montessouri-inspired development center for our families with young children.

The most priceless gift we can give is the joy and relationships of working and being with each other, to achieve our mission of serving our customers.

A rendering of the Bandwidth campus in an image provided by the developers.

  • Did employees participate in the process of designing the new campus? Did their input prove valuable?

Yes, our people had extensive input and were closely involved. Four years ago when we began the process, we conducted surveys and interviews with a large number of individual Bandmates and teams. We also held visioning sessions with our architects and designers to translate how our unique culture could be brought to life in the new space.

But a funny thing happened along the way: Covid. The pandemic changed our thinking as we understood the importance of new ways of working and supporting the human spirit. This led to us creating a more “residential” feel for our workstations, with soft materials, highly ergonomic furniture and screens And it prioritized nature.

Outside, we created miles of walking trails connecting to greenways, an outdoor amphitheater, and large outdoor balconies with fans and heaters, where Bandmates can work outside most of the year. Inside, we brought nature into the building, with carpets resembling limestone and lichens among natural wood interiors and earthy decor, complemented by wallpaper with animals, landscapes, and iconic places of North Carolina.

Another insight from this process, and one of the proudest achievements of our campus, was the need to help our working parents reduce the friction between work and life, by creating a high-quality, Montessori-inspired child development center.

  • What might other companies learn from Bandwidth’s campus development process?

Two things:

First, be true to your culture. Design a space that enhances and elevates how you work together. For Bandwidth, that meant a campus to deliver on our “Whole Person Promise” that encourages Bandmates to stay highly engaged, healthy, and balanced – strengthening minds, bodies, and spirits through the features and amenities of our campus – to fulfill our mission to serve customers.

Second, trust your decision–and stay the course. When we turned over the first shovelful of dirt just two years ago, things were very different. We had no idea there would be supply chain issues, inflation, the Great Rotation in the workforce – or even if it would ever be normal to go back into an office. So many decisions we made then were a leap of faith. But they turned out to be the financially wiser choice over renewing our existing lease – and with so much more to offer our people.

  • Given competition for talent in today’s tight labor market, how is Bandwidth adapting to recruit and retain workers? What’s your turnover rate?

Bandwidth has long been recognized as one of the best places to work in our region, with rapid growth, a unique culture and great benefits that attract top people in their fields. Outside of a brief period during the “Great Rotation,” which saw a moderate increase in turnover, our turnover rate historically has been steady at about 10 percent, which is at or below the rates of other tech companies in the region.

  • Do you have dedicated R&D space and how much? Any special features?

As a software company, we have R&D resources in the form of a high-tech computer server lab and, just as importantly, in collaboration spaces purpose-built to facilitate group ideation and collaboration among our developers. It may surprise people to know that we get tremendous value from meeting in person to design new tech stacks and sketch out workflows on large touchscreens.

Additionally, Bandmate Way has a dedicated Customer Solution Center with a wall of screens and other features to hold joint value creation sessions with our customers to design solutions to their key challenges.

  • Is artificial intelligence playing a role in your R&D and if so how?

Bandwidth was early to see the potential of AI in our cloud communications space, and we announced our first AI product nearly two years ago.

More recently, we launched a next-generation platform that enables our customers to connect with best-in-class AI capabilities from a variety of vendors–an innovation that won Best of Show at the most important global event in our space, beating much larger players.

We’re also using AI to increase our productivity inside the company, in areas like software development and marketing.

Original Article Source: WRAL TechWire