Evernote's Silicon Valley Headquarters Offer Company-Wide Collaboration (and Lego-Building Classes)

The open space and cross-departmental gatherings creates an office culture where colleagues are constantly learning from each other.
Evernote's Silicon Valley Headquarters Offer Company-Wide Collaboration (and Lego-Building Classes)
Image credit: Adam Friedberg
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the October 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Evernote is obsessed with organization. Just as the company’s note-taking app helps workers across industries keep all their virtual odds and ends in one place, its Silicon Valley headquarters provides valued structure and workflow to its 336 employees. An open floor plan is peppered with collaborative workstations for coders, quiet rooms for content creators and an open stairwell that encourages cross-departmental conversations. Multiple resource groups and social organizations host meetings and events throughout the calendar year, and the Evernote Academy offers a rotating selection of classes -- designed and taught by its employees -- on everything from leadership to Lego building. 

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Jason Bertschi / Senior software engineer

“At the Evernote Academy, anybody can teach anything. Our head of security led a lock-picking class, which was ironic and fun. I held one on how to build our logo out of Legos. But some of them are meant to be profound learning experiences -- like how to talk to people about difficult problems, or how to become a better manager.”

Katie So’oto / Senior executive assistant

“I’m a mom, so having the support to create a work-life blend is huge. Maybe I get in at 9 or 9:30, or I can duck out when I need to. I can take ownership and be my own CEO of my role. Just the other day, one of my executives said, ‘When are you going on vacation, and have you taken a ‘me’ day?’” 

Augustus Yuan / Software engineer 

“The CFO will go over financials at all-hands meetings and be really honest with us and say, maybe, ‘This is a slow quarter’ or ‘We’re meeting a lot of expectations.’ That transparency trickles down to all the teams -- one of my intern’s projects was making an analytics reporting dashboard, and anyone can access those metrics internally.”

Gina Han / Senior product manager

“There’s very little hubris here like you find at many tech companies. It’s because Evernote has been through some really high ups and some low downs. We’re not the shiny penny anymore -- instead, we have this really nice patina that we’ve earned over time. People come here for that humble nature, and it’s something worth staying for.”

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Forrest Bryant / Director of editorial and content

“We have a standing meeting called Show the Words. All the writers get together twice a week and read aloud a work in progress. It aligns us on voice, tone, and style in a way that you can’t get from a document. It’s a way that all the writers can harness their collective brain energy to make sure we are saying things in the most effective way, not just following a script or a rule.”

Kristin Osaki / Recruiter

“I just taught my first Evernote Academy class on drawing Disney characters. I’ve always feared public speaking, so I loved having the opportunity to work on my presentation skills in an environment where I feel supported.”

Doug Marshall / Senior accounting manager, International

“Our CEO has emphasized the concept of radical candor -- people aren’t afraid to have healthy debate, because we trust each other. Any kind of feedback is welcome, whether it be positive or negative. We want to help everyone get better, because that makes us perform better as a team.”

Heather Blockhus / Software engineer

“Our team has whiteboards at the end of every row, so it’s easy to ad hoc draw some things out and chat with developers. People are willing to schedule time in their day and walk you through the best way to write code. It’s like peer programming sessions.” 

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Monica Chua / Director of product marketing

“There are multiple employee resource groups, or ERGs. I lead one for women. Another is called BAE, which is Blacks at Evernote. We have Asian American groups, a LGBTQ pride group, and a Latinx group. They help people have a space for conversation about community and influence, and help foster an inclusive culture.”

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Image Credit: Adam Friedberg
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