Movin’ on up: Udemy settles into a new home
Monday was moving day at Udemy, as we took up residence in a brand-new office. Though we only went one block east of our last location, the contrast in how the new space looks, feels, and functions is light years away from our previous spot.
A few notable factoids:
- Udemy was in its last office for about 16 months. Over that time, we more than doubled in size, and it got pretty crowded by the end. We now have capacity to accommodate many more people — and we’re hiring!
- This is Udemy’s fifth headquarters, if you count our three founders working out of a home in Palo Alto until May 2011. We’ve also got offices in Ankara and Dublin. In fact, our Dublin team recently relocated to a new space too.
- In terms of space, we’ve grown from 27,000 sq. ft. to 40,000 sq. ft. now. That’s allowed us to bump up the number of conference rooms from 16 to 27, something we’re all especially excited about. No more huddling in a corner of the lunchroom to collaborate with teammates!
- We’re in the process of building out additional space on the floor above us, scheduled to be ready in spring 2016, which represents another 40,000 sq. feet. For now, we’ll be subletting half the floor to another company
- Prior to Udemy’s arrival, the space was occupied by the regional office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Needless to say, they had considerably less design flair than Udemy.
The main driver for the move was our incredible growth, which shows no signs of slowing down. So, we were looking to get more breathing room that will accommodate new hires for a long time to come. But, of course, we’re also taking advantage of our new space to make other upgrades and improvements. For example, we’ve got a soundproof production studio and a usability lab on the premises and look forward to welcoming visiting students and instructors.
From a design standpoint, however, the crowning glory may be our new all-hands/lunchroom area (at right and below). Core to our culture is enjoying interaction with our coworkers over meals and during after-hours events and all-company meetings. The all-hands area is anchored by a wood stage and platform with an angled wood ceiling that lends itself to daily use as a casual café setting. The lunch/kitchen area was inspired by restaurant design to be functional but also warm and inviting. It looks like we could host our own cooking competitions here (and it wouldn’t be a surprise if some enterprising Udemy employee is already organizing that).
It’s also worth mentioning our new reception area (top photo), which captures the spirit of a startup. Here’s how our architecture firm, RMW Architecture & Interiors, describes it: “Strong architectural elements like the stairway, credenza, wood ceiling, and wall element paired with an informal lounge setting give a residential impression that is familiar and sturdy. The lobby is anchored by the simple and clean form of the reception desk that is accented with a carved wood logo.”
Another cool aspect of the office design: all of the wood used in the reception and all-hands areas was salvaged from a lumber mill in Fort Bragg, reflecting Udemy’s regional connection to the San Francisco Bay Area.