What It's Like to Work at Epicentric Inc.


Interviewee: Brian Scott, director of information technology

Company: Epicentric Inc., a provider of packaged Web portal and infrastructure software. It also offers hosting and content management services

Main location: San Francisco, in the SoMa (South of Market) district

Number of IT employees: 12

Number of employees (end users): 120 (an increase from 30 to 40 four months ago)

Dress code: Casual

Workday: 12-hour days, usually starting between 9 and 10 a.m.

IT growth this year: "We'll more than double."

On-site amenities: A dedicated concierge for the engineering staff "who does all the things they aren't able to do because they're working 12- to 16-hour days," including getting lunch and dinner, paying bills, dropping off and picking up dry cleaning. "Last week I had a flat tire, and she fixed it." Other amenities include yoga classes, massages, free lunches and dinners and three refrigerators fully stocked with snacks, fruits, vegetables, candy and sodas.

How does the IT staff make time to benefit from yoga classes and massages? "Everybody needs to take a break. I don't expect anyone to stare at their computer screen for hours on end."

How many IT people show up for the yoga classes? (Laughs) "I think one or two come in for those."

Other perks: Full health care plan, stock options, subsidized membership at a local gym, monthly birthday parties and movie nights on Thursdays. "We take a weekly poll and get a DVD movie and bring pizza in. Last week we watched The Matrix. What else would you watch at a software company?"

How much impact have the perks made on hiring and retention? "I've had no problems retaining any staff. The company is about 2 years old, and I haven't had anyone leave voluntarily."

How do you justify the budget for these perks? "Finding quality people in this market is not easy, so I just have to look at . . . our 100% retention."

Compensation: "We have to be competitive with both salaries and stock options. All employees get options."

Bonuses? Employees get various referral bonuses.

Employee reviews: Annually

Major IT initiatives: "We're planning to move to a larger space, so (we're) transferring our IT infrastructure. And we have many plans for (enterprise resource planning)-type initiatives that would work down the middle of our internal and external operations."

Kind of offices: A mix of cubicles and open space on one floor in a refurbished factory. "Most of the engineering team is in a cubed environment because they need privacy to focus on a project. Those who are more collaborative, like marketing and sales, are in a more open environment."

Decor: Exposed pipes and cables and carpeted floor. "There are some paintings in the kitchen and around the office, but I barely have time to look at them. We have lots of big windows with a great view of the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco Bay."

Must people carry beepers? Cell phones? Yes. "Most of the IT staff carries a beeper, but only very rarely do you get called back to the office after hours. Maybe you get beeped once a week. We provide (digital subscriber line) service in all (of our employees') homes so they can work remotely, and we have (virtual private network) and dial-up access for other users."

Where does the office gossip? "Around the nearest computer."

Would employees feel comfortable e-mailing the CEO? "Yes. We have an open-door policy."

Quote: "I come from a very corporate background, and that is a very different pace. The fast pace here is the big difference - being able to move ahead on the things you want to do."

- Leslie Goff

Focus on Workstyles

Copyright © 2000 IDG Communications, Inc.

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