Experience design // Service design

Gusto’s new home.


In late 2017, we outgrew our tiring SOMA digs and secured a historic warehouse on Pier 70 to serve as our new home. The whole company was eager for a meaningful workplace upgrade, and leadership aspired to a space that celebrated our mission and culture.

Jenna and I were initially tapped to help out with some aesthetic choices, but we saw an opportunity to apply holistic design thinking for much greater impact. The thoughtful choices garnered lots of press coverage. Inc even named ours one of the world's 10 most beautiful offices of 2019.

2017 – 2018

Other press
  • Jenna Carando
  • Namhee Koo
  • Micah Panama
  • Gusto’s Environment Team

As we might approach another other design project, we started by doing user research. We hosted workshops to uncover Gustie pain points in our current space and collaboratively brainstorm opportunities for the next.

These insights helped us craft overarching design principles and goals for each of the office's sub-spaces. We then developed "product specs" for each of the sub-spaces, comprised of moodboards to guide aesthetic choices and "requirements" to guide functional ones.

These specs got everyone on the same page by making the subjective more objective. In turn, it made decision-making and reviews much more efficient. And since we only had 4 months to pull this thing off (normally office buildouts take 9-12), efficiency was key.

Design process from 10,000 feet

First principle

Bring our customers to the forefront

The entrance is defined by a stunning living wall we commissioned from a Bay Area Gustomer, Planted Design.

We named our conference rooms after small businesses, and designed their signage in the spirit of local shops.

Second principle

Accommodate and encourage collaboration

Our old office severely lacked spaces for spontaneous collaboration. So we anchored the office with plenty of color-themed breakout areas for impromptu conversation. We were thrilled to hear someone say "let's meet in the purple zone" for the first time.

Third principle

Visually inspire all teams

Jenna lettered this incredible "Live with Gusto" neon sign, specifically placed to be visible from anywhere in the office.

It's a dual representation of the passion we have for our work and the passion small business owners have for theirs.

The pièce de résistance is a 40 foot mural in the dining/all-hands area, illustrated by our talented teammate Camellia Neri. It inclusively showcases many types of small business owners in action.

We made it paint-by-numbers so any Gustie could leave their mark on our new space.

Fourth principle

Accommodate different working styles and preferences

Many people expressed concern that we were moving to an even more open office. It was already hard enough to focus. So we carved out plenty of spaces for solo focus time and decompression.

Fifth principle

Create comfort without sacrificing sophistication

Gusto goes to great lengths to encourage people to feel comfortable at work. Most notably, we have a shoeless office.

It was important to maintain that spirit, but Gusties wanted it done with more refinement. We chose every piece of decor with this sentiment in mind and with the goal of encouraging comfortable creativity.

After we moved in, we ran a survey to see how Gusties felt about the new space and evaluate how we performed against our goals.

Measuring success

Finally, Jenna and I turned our process into an office design playbook. Gusto's facilities and environment teams are using it for current buildouts in Denver and New York and others in the future. As our company and footprint grows, this ensures every Gusto office feels like Gusto...which means it'll feel a lot like home.

*Credit to Jenna for all the amazing photos.

  • 72% of Gusties said the space made it easier to work and collaborate.

  • “The office makes me so happy to come to work everyday.”

  • 85% of Gusties said the space positively affected their perception of Gusto.

  • “It's jaw-dropping and really gets my friends excited about Gusto. It's helped me close potential candidates that are on the fence.”

  • 94% of Gusties said the space reflects Gusto's brand and culture.

  • “I love how we worked to make the spaces feel homey and comfortable and warm! It's a great implementation of our brand in a physical space.”

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