Part vacation home, part always-on tech hub, Vacasa's new rented space in the Pearl aims for work-fun balance

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JAIME VALDEZ - Vacasa's new HQ office at the Heartline in the Pearl District is next door to their old one in the RiverTec building.

Vacasa, the vacation home rental company, is showing people around. It moved its headquarters into a new building in September, the Heartline in the Pearl. Vacasa was already in the RiverTec building next door at 13th and Lovejoy (formerly home to Puppet when it was called Puppet Labs).

Vacasa's customer service team of around 60 people has remained in the RiverTec while 325 people have moved into the Heartline, of which Vacasa has the entire building, all 61,000 square feet.

The firm treads a line between zany tech company indulgence and stolid, cube-farm seriousness.

The lobby on Northwest 13th Avenue has been designed like a vacation home, with wooden knick-knacks on the shelves and comfortable chairs in front of a gas fireplace. Vacasa actually has an in-house interior design team. Kimberley White, senior interior design director, who worked on the design in partnership with SDK.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JAIME VALDEZ - The light-filled communal kitchen at Vacasa's new office at the Heartline.

Vacasa is known for its rapid growth. This year it passed 10,000 portfolio properties and raised $103.5 million in Series B funding. That money is spent on staff, which include sales teams, customer account reps, software developers as well as blue collar staff in vacation communities to clean and maintain the homes.

Vacasa now has rental 10,600 units in 16 countries and 23 states. The new space is a far cry from their rough-and-tumble digs at 3934 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. two years ago.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JAIME VALDEZ - The Heartline the lobby counter also functions as a full-service espresso bar for Vacasa employees and guests. Tending the professional grade Marzocco machine, Hayleyann Evers makes drinks on demand for free.

Blue velvet

In the Heartline, the lobby counter also functions as a full-service espresso bar for Vacasa employees and guests. Tending the professional grade Marzocco machine, Hayleyann Evers makes drinks on demand for free. Evers serves all the employees drinks "customizable by interest," says Anni Murphy, Senior PR specialist at Vacasa, leading the Business Tribune on a recent tour.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JAIME VALDEZ - Anni Murphy, Senior PR specialist at Vacasa, at one of the couches where she sometimes works.

The lobby has blue velvet booths with electrical outlets for those who want to stay a while. No key pass is needed to get in to the lobby (but not up the elevators) during working hours, because the company is constantly meeting job applicants. Homeowners also often come in for face-to-face customer service.

Most floor plates are the same, so Murphy shows off the fourth floor where she works.

"There are a lot of comfortable nooks and crannies for people needing a place to work on an ad hoc basis. They were created with the employee experience in mind. The idea from Eric (Breon, CEO) is that's how employees do their best work."

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JAIME VALDEZ - Siena Bendixen-Park at a typical Vacasa workstation. Staff keep their personal stuff there, but are free to roam and work elsewhere.

With 325 people there are 409 desks, so there is room to grow. The desks or workstations are small, mostly with room for laptops and a little personal stuff: many desks have dog bowls under them. (Dog treats are the new communal candy bowls.) According to Murphy all the desk chairs are Cosm by Herman Miller, and this was their biggest single order of Cosm chairs ever.

Laser focus

There are also 26 "phone and focus" rooms, for when you want to laser focus on something or take a private call," says Murphy.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JAIME VALDEZ - Sarah Anderson, a corporate paralegal at Vacasa, works on her Mac book in one of the company's nooks in the Heartline building. Each of the 325 staff has a small workstation, but they are enouraged to work where they feel most productive.

The conference rooms are named for places in California and Florida. Naples and Fort Meyers sit near a small deck, which looks toward REI and the 405 freeway.

The roof deck has some green roof type sedum but it is mainly landscaped with grasses. It's not an official green roof, more a landscaped space with a hammock and more tables for working or socializing. In a more typical scene, man with a backpack and giant headphones walked out on his own and sat down with his laptop.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JAIME VALDEZ - Vacasa's new roof is part workspace, part green roof, part patio. Note the metal swing in the center of the picture.

Murphy says the only person without a desk or an office is the CEO Eric Breon. "He's free roaming, he sets the example for everyone. It's fun, it gives the sense that's were all in it together."

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JAIME VALDEZ - Sara Gates, editrial director at Vacasa, working on her workflow with Oscar the golden retriever. Well-behaved pets are welcome in the office.

Dog squad

Upstairs is a large room, the banquet hall, for meetings and eating. Sometimes they video conference with Boise office. There is Brew Dr. Kombucha, Swift Cider and rotation kegs of Elysium, Buoy and Laurelhurst beer on tap. The two ping-pong tables tend to get used around 3:30 p.m. as people take a short afternoon break. Most people work 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. says Murphy, although they can make their own hours on a team-by-team basis.

Asked what the dog policy is, Murphy replies "Dogs everywhere."

There are limits however. "I can't bring my dog here because she's a nutso. She's a border collie, she gets overenthusiastic."

So far, the Vacasa pooches have been well-behaved.

"I have been here two months and I have witnessed no dog accidents whatever."

Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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