The office of Uniregistry in Governors Square is not a space designed to play into the hype of Silicon Valley. The tech outfit is certainly where Frank Schilling, along with roughly 49 like-minded team members, is quietly making history in the domain name industry; yet the office is more like an extension of home than a trendy dot-com fantasy campus.
Uniregistry makes, sells and manages “domains”, which are website names – without the website. With the release of hundreds of new domain “extensions,” Uniregistry is poised to become the superpower of the new internet, as tired website names in the .com and .net namespace are replaced with vibrant options like .click, .link and .audio.
Even with all of the big business happening on a minute-by-minute basis at Uniregistry, the office ambience is somehow as casually eloquent and earnest as its founder. Walk into the space and you are greeted by thousands of the staff’s personal photos on every wall – not a typical décor feature in a workspace. Here, Frank hands over his code for building an office community that sparks major innovation.
IO: What were you looking for in a potential office space?
FS: When you lease premises you’re buying more than empty space. You’re taking on a location, a feel and the management team of the building. We look at things holistically and couldn’t have wished for a better landlord and management team than the good people who operate Governors Square. We are passionate about our business. Our landlord is singularly passionate about his.
IO: The current Uniregistry offices used to play house to a restaurant and kitchen store. How did you come to choose that particular spot?
FS: Through osmosis really. We started in a smaller location in Governors Square, then we expanded through the wall to the next space, and then again to the next. Each space has its own unique history and has been modified to rhyme with the space next door but each takes on a distinct feel and the collective space tells the story of our evolution as a company.
IO: Further, your offices are not open to the public. Was there a particular reason for choosing a storefront-style space?
FS: Storefront is neat because you can walk straight out, no corridors or elevators. Our location in the square was always tucked away and never lent itself very well to retail. Uniregistry was a very good fit.
IO: The space is very home-like with a full-serving kitchen, a snack bar and a fitness center. Tell us about the benefits of having these amenities on property?
FS: Providing basic necessities like healthy food and snacks, exercise and comfortable seating areas to our employees means they aren’t restricted in their potential for brilliance. What’s the point of hiring the best minds if those minds are worried about what to get for lunch or when they’re going to get to the gym? Removing these obstacles, or at least providing options, ensures greater opportunity for those flashes of clarity and brilliance that make our product and business better. There’s no doubt that when employees see you’re investing in them; they will invest in the business in return. I think our team takes great personal pride in their work here because they feel they’re a part of something bigger. And they know this because of the investments we make in their personal comfort and wellbeing. We give to our people because we care about them. We try to bring out the greatness in each person.
IO: Tell us about how your photo wall started.
FS: This one was my idea. Nobody knows about other staffers’ lives after they go home. I decided it would be nice to see moments of people’s lives after hours and post a few photos on the wall for all to see. Five thousand photos later, we are finally getting somewhere. Thousands of photos line every space in the office and each reminds us where we’ve come from and what we’ve done.
IO: What is your own personal favorite place to get creative at the office?
FS: I really like the conference room off the old Bon Vivant space. It’s a small soundproof office at the back next to the utility meters. It’s a small utilitarian space but many a great meeting and innovative moment has sparked a fire from that space.
IO: Your team seems to love to collaborate within their workspaces. How does this add to your project work and productivity?
FS: Having a relaxed but functional, free-form space is an integral part of productivity because when the office feels like home, you just feel more relaxed and open to ideas and communication. Everyone also has a standing desk so they can work more comfortably seated or (with the push of a button) standing, and quickly collaborate with impromptu at-desk meetings to more easily share ideas with others.
IO: What is your view on workplace happiness and satisfaction?
FS: Our efforts (whether successful or not) stem from a culture that we want to be a good host to our people. Too many companies take an “us vs them” mentality when thinking about their people. They try to cut corners everywhere and then can’t understand why staff wouldn’t be grateful for a paycheck alone. I try to give the people I serve a great life, a career, an adventure and the opportunity for more.
Get Well at Work
Some studies show as much as a 25 percent increase in productivity when employees have a comfortable and engaging workplace. Don’t have access to in-office nap pods or a high-energy snack bar? Here, five Uniregistry staffers share their hacks for staying happy and healthy on the job.
App developer, Marco Pompei
“I use my Apple watch to remind me to get up and walk around every 30 minutes. Stretching my legs on a regular basis throughout the day keeps both my limbs and mind feeling relaxed.”
Director of Compliance and Customer Support, Judy Singh Hurlston
“I like to listen to music at my standing desk. The music makes me dance so I actually am standing and moving for much longer than I otherwise would.”
Project Manager, Miranda-Claire Iddon
“I always wished I had custom reminders to do specific stretches throughout the day. Now, I use an app developed for me by coworker Marco to get moving every 15 minutes.”
Operations and Marketing Executive, Brittni Ebanks
“I have a reusable water bottle and always keep it at my desk. I try to drink at least two full bottles before lunch, and another two full ones before the end of the day. Lately, I’ve been mixing it up by adding lemon and cucumbers.”
Domain Broker, Darryl Iddon
“I like to listen to short motivational quotes from “The 10X Rule” throughout the day. Listening to mentors speak about success – not just in sales, but in life – helps me stay motivated and productive at work and relaxed in my down time.”