Flexible workplaces aren’t like traditional offices.
That’s especially true when it comes to the technology behind-the-scenes — because so much of what makes a workplace flexible are the tools that allow members to work where, when, and how they want to. And as the workplace becomes even more flexible — with companies adopting hybrid and hub-and-spoke models that enable employees to work from anywhere — technology plays an increasingly greater role in smoothing the ways for employees to book an office across town or across the country or connect with remote colleagues.
Parth Patel, Industrious’ Engineering Manager, spends his days collaborating with Industrious’ developers to create the technology on which the future of the workplace is being built. We sat down with Patel to get his take on what separates flexible workplaces from traditional office spaces and how he’s keeping his team close even while working apart.
Tell us about yourself.
But I realized that I missed the magic of working together to build something cool so I decided to switch gears and go work at startups, which often have a super cool culture of trying new things — and where ideas can flow up, or down, or sideways. You don’t have to be somebody high up in rank to propose new ideas and new solutions. You could be a junior developer or an intern, propose something cool, and if it makes sense then it’ll be implemented.
What brought you to Industrious?
One thing that immediately stood out to me at Industrious is that members love the product. It’s awesome knowing that I’m making tools that people use and that they’re going to love — or that enhance the use of the products that they already love through digital mediums. I think that’s awesome.
The other thing is the culture. People here really care about you and it feels very collaborative. I don’t just feel like a cog, and I know the other developers don’t either. They have a huge impact because it is a small team and there are a lot of cool, exciting products that we’re working on.
What does your role as Engineering Manager entail?
For me, it’s really about making sure that people are enabled to work at their best. When I came in, for example, my first mission was to reduce the length of meetings. We’ve made them much more efficient.
Another focus has been bringing the team together. It’s hard to connect virtually but we try to have our chat and show sessions where the purpose is to hang out and talk about life things for an hour. We also have digital fun game events where we get together with our wider team and do a virtual escape room or stuff like that.
And then we have pair programming sessions in which one developer sits down and codes while the other one watches. A lot of people have this perception of coding that it’s a hacker dude with a hoodie on in the corner by himself, rapidly firing away at his keyboard, when nothing could be further from the truth. Half the time, I’m staring at the screen because I don’t know what the solution is and I wish I had a second opinion — which is why pair programming is great. It also gives you a reason to sit down and connect with someone, which can be rare these days. So it’s two birds, one stone: It improves the quality of the work and gives it a social aspect.
What’s next for the future of technology in the workplace?
Part of what we offer at Industrious is a flexible way that all of a company’s employees across the States can have access to a consistent quality of workplace.
The workplace has to feel as flexible as a home office where you can pop in and out. Something that’s super convenient to book, and where there’s a really frictionless process to getting an office whenever you want one and then being able to use that space to your advantage. I think that’ll be a really key stepping stone for the future.
If you lease an entire building for your company, you have assigned desks, and as an employee you’re pretty much confined to your desk. A flexible workplace is great for nomads and people like me — I’m somebody who can’t ever sit still. We’re creating tools to empower employees and individuals to book their desks so that they can look at their phone and say, “Oh, I want to go to this location today — and maybe tomorrow, I want to check out another location.” It’s total freedom.
What do you love about what you do?
I want to make a team that works really well together — like, they’re just crushing it. The processes are set up perfectly as possible. That’s something I focus on quite often: how we run our sprints, where there are holdups, and how we can improve. We constantly strive to improve the process of our development.
And then making sure people are happy. Because if nobody’s happy, then you can just forget about everything else. Because happy people make good stuff. That’s very important.