OUR STORIES

Nobody Gets Their Own Office

June 8, 2016

There's a reason the Houston Business Journal named ours one of the “coolest offices” in the city. But it's not just about contemporary buildings and trendy interior design at the Bouncing Pixel studio.

Having relocated the company to Midtown Houston in February, 2014, Jerald knew the kind of layout he wanted. “Most of my career has involved bullpen-style spaces, and I've always found it to be more productive,” which is why the 3000-square-foot studio has an open floor plan where no one has an office or cubicle.

Bouncing Pixel's Midtown Houston Office Bouncing Pixel's 5-year anniversary gathering

To make the environment more conducive to collaboration he took a simple concept, and expanded on it. “We're taking the idea behind Google Hangouts and applying it to the workplace.” Bouncing Pixel works on a number of different projects at any given time. Each one is seen as a problem that needs a solution, and the team works together to find the best one. To do that, open communication channels are needed, and our studio's design facilitates that. If two programmers collaborating at someone's desk, there are no cubicle walls to stop a third from coming in and offering a solution. Whether it's discussing the pros and cons of a particular technology, or debating a color palette for a client's website, the office layout enables creativity so that ideas are exchanged freely.

No one gets their own office, not even the bosses. In most cases, it's pretty intimidating to know that your supervisor sits right behind you and can look over your shoulder at any time; such floor plans are promoted to help managers keep track of their employees' progress and to keep their people on track.  But when the boss is playing music at his desk and likes to talk about rock climbing every now and then, you tend to relax a bit. We all know that by the end of the day the work needs to be done, so taking breaks and chatting with coworkers is never frowned upon. Everyone on the team can see and speak to each other, and communicating is as easy as swiveling a desk chair around.

Bouncing Pixel Team Illustrations Santiago works on Bouncing Pixel team illustrations

The lack of walls might be frustrating for some because people may encroach on each other's space. No one wants their papers, pens, or staplers getting mixed up with someone else's. But with a small staff, we have a lot of real estate in desk space to make up for it. Our lead developer, Matt, pointed out that with no more than ten employees and the open floor plan, the office has less of a “sweatshop feel to it” than at a larger company where 50 people are packed into the same room.

We've let outsiders in to enjoy the building and take advantage of all the room as well. Both Jackson and Jerald are founders of popular professional groups—Animate Houston and GroundUP Houston—that are held right here at 2802 Albany. Both are informal meetups where members come out to meet and chat with others in their field, while enjoying some beer (perks of knowing someone at Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company) and snacks. Others on the team are involved with different organizations, and can take advantage of an empty place on the weekends or after work hours.

Our programmer and drone enthusiast, Ryan, occasionally hosts meetings for the general board of the Youth Leadership Council, where he volunteers as a mentor for high school students in the Asian community. A meetup that Matt is a member of, Node.js Houston, has also held a few “CodeNode” events at the office, where developers get together to build software and learn more about coding in the process. 

Bouncing Pixel's Midtown Houston Office Bouncing Pixel's 5-year anniversary gathering

Even Jeff Reichman, a friend of Jerald's, and a well-known community leader, held a number of meetups for his group, Sketch City, where people from different industries get together to discuss potential civic projects in Houston. After using our space, Jeff couldn't help but sing some praises. “The office at Bouncing Pixel is beautiful, and our meetups suddenly get a whole lot prettier when we're there. But my favorite part is hanging out with Jerald and his team for a little while. They're always working on something inspiring.” Thank you, Jeff! We try.

After a careerin architecture, Jerald didn't underestimate the importance of the office environment. “We spend at least a third of each day in the workplace. If we're not at ease and comfortable in that space, we're not going to be productive.” With its Midtown office, Bouncing Pixel gives it's team the right balance between coming to work and feeling at home. Plus, it doesn't hurt that we're around the corner from some great restaurants!