The Bixby Knolls-based software development company Laserfiche is slated to move into its new headquarters in late February or early March—but the firm’s plans for the property look a little different than when construction on the project began in 2019.
Laserfiche, which is currently based in a leased building at 3545 Long Beach Blvd., bought the adjacent property, 3459 Long Beach Blvd., years ago with plans to fill both spaces with the company’s ever-growing workforce.
Now that COVID-19 has upended the labor market and office culture overall, though, I was curious about how the company’s plans for the site have changed—and it seems there have been some pandemic-induced adjustments.
Laserfiche CEO Chris Wacker told me that the first building, at 65,000 square feet, was designed to accommodate 500-to-600 workers, which is about the number of people who were working at the site before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. At the time, it appeared more space would soon be necessary.
“When the pandemic hit, we were forced to work from home or work remote,” Wacker said, “and that really impacted us, and certainly our plans moving forward.”
Now, Laserfiche officials expect to offer a hybrid workplace for the foreseeable future, and Wacker estimated that 50-to-60% of the site’s employees will be in the office at any given time.
Ditching the new 102,000-square-foot building, which the firm owns and designed itself, was not an option. So Laserfiche instead notified the landlord at 3545 Long Beach Blvd. that the company would vacate its old space. That building is now for sale.
Wacker told me that while plans for the new headquarters were made before the pandemic, it still offers features that will be crucial for a hybrid workplace. Meeting rooms, for example, were designed with video conferencing in mind, with cameras at one end of the room and tables with a slight “V” shape to allow for full video visibility. The building is also LEED- and WELL-certified with high-quality air filtration systems.
Beyond the aspects of the project that have become newly important amid the pandemic, Wacker also said he was excited about the way the layout will foster more collaboration.
“It’s an open seating environment,” he said. “There are a few executive offices, but for the most part, it is open seating to encourage collaboration, with expansive 270-degree views and balconies on several floors that will allow for open-air discussions.”
Wacker acknowledged remote work has its benefits—it can allow better concentration, for one—and said Laserfiche will continue to allow employees to work however they’re most comfortable.
But, he added, “there’s no substitute for physical interaction, really. It’s just being in the same place at the same time—you just have conversations in the hall, and you bump into people, and you’re always renewing those bonds and relationships. It’s exchanging ideas and thoughts—even nonverbally. There’s just no substitute for that.”
While the new office represents the next chapter for Laserfiche, it’s also a significant addition for the neighborhood.
“Long Beach Boulevard, in the ‘50s and ‘60s, was this creative corridor where Edward Killingsworth and Donald Gibbs practiced,” said Michael Bohn, senior principal for Studio One Eleven, one of the firms behind the new project. “There were a lot of creative firms at the time, and it got sleepy near the end of the 20th century, and in the 21st century, a lot of new creative firms have really come back and appreciated the older, quirkier buildings.”
But the thoroughfare hasn’t seen a significant new development for decades—that is, until now.
“I think having this new building, which really represents technological innovation, is kind of a milestone because there haven’t been any new buildings built on Long Beach Boulevard for over 30 years,” Bohn told me. “So I think this kind of the cherry on top that says, ‘Hey, this is still a relevant creative corridor,’ and this investment of a brand new building—which was inspired by a Killingsworth-designed building next door—I think says alot about the continuity of history and moving forward.”