To some, the idea of a company without a headquarters might seem unconventional. Generally speaking, a headquarters location is designated for those companies operating at scale so that all or most of executive management and key staff are clustered for collaboration in one, central location. A headquarters location may have the appearance of being more prestigious and can certainly help attract more top talent compared to working from the more remote, regional office locations. Often, this scenario has played out as companies are built-out from a single, starting location.
LightBox has charted a different path owing it, in large part, to the way we initially assembled the company. Having acquired five “stand-alone” businesses with both east and west coast locations, this naturally provided a much larger geographic footprint for the organization as a whole. Rather than representing a barrier for the organization, we see this feature as an opportunity to dramatically enhance our culture. The absence of a headquarters allows LightBox to be more welcoming and flexible for all our team members while helping us to better serve our clients. Keeping the larger offices open allowed the team members to maintain their roles without disruption to their personal lives. The concept of multiple locations supports the overall LightBox mission designed to enable the most successful decisions in real estate every day. Given the nature of commercial real estate as a local industry, we need to be close to many of the markets we wish to serve to be most effective. Our decision allows us to empower team members in each regional location, including a large contingent of remote team members, with the resources they need to function at the highest levels.
The surprising challenges that come with a single headquarters
With approximately 450 team members and several regional offices across the U.S and Canada, we are challenged, yet committed to ensuring that our team members always feel connected, valued, and included. Without question, we recognize that our team members are an integral part of the LightBox team and its success, regardless of the location or the size of their office. Designating one location as a headquarters inadvertently leads to some tension and feelings of division among team members who are not working at the headquarters location. Team members at non-headquarters locations may feel like they are missing out on certain benefits and that they cannot advance their careers past a certain point. Strong and open communication lines, company town halls, online training tools, and executive travel between offices all serve the efforts at LightBox of keeping our teams aware of and aligned with our priorities.
With a large headquarters, you often need to locate in big cities to attract enough talent to fill the company’s growing needs. With our smaller, regional office structure we find that we have significantly greater flexibility about where we locate our offices. This allows us to consider areas that may more economical and even offer a better quality of life for team members through lower-cost housing and less traffic congestion.
In addition to keeping our team members engaged, we want to make sure that our clients feel a sense of connection to and accessibility of our leaders. Having offices in several cities enables us to put leadership closer to our customers. We can visit key clients regularly, build relationships with government entities, and recruit top tier talent from multiple locations. Likewise, we can offer team members the opportunity to apply for roles in cities that may be more appealing to their circumstances.
A benefit for these specific times
In this time of battling Covid-19 across our country, having multiple regional offices rather than a single headquarters has enabled us to respond quickly to the pressing need to keep our team members safe in a way we’ve never had to previously. The smaller footprint in each of our individual office locations has allowed us to be responsive to the local conditions and has enabled a quick response to in-office safety precautions. Team members who have a need to come into one of our offices find it easier to limit in-person interactions and reduce potential spreader opportunities, such as elevators or crowded entrance zones. Additionally, our shut-down response was quite smooth because of our regional presence as our team members and infrastructure already had what they needed to enable distance collaboration and teaming. We’ve seen our unusual footprint structure as a significant benefit during this time.
Having multiple locations of excellence, rather than one designated HQ, is a strength for LightBox. Our regional locations enable us to be agile, flexible, and forward-looking for our team members and helps forge stronger connections to our clients. To learn more about LightBox and see any open positions, visit our careers page here.