Photos taken by Cleary O’Farrell Photography

A year after the acquisition of Tier 3, CenturyLink launched its new Cloud Development Center in Bellevue last Thursday to manage the rapidly growing need for cloud services. Since the acquisition, the company has tripled the amount of work on the platform and has expanded from 60 to 100 engineers. With plans to grow over the next year, CenturyLink needed more space, said Jared Wray, CTO.

The Cloud Development Center isn’t your typical office space though. The 30,000-square-foot open space was designed specifically for a DevOps work style to encourage and foster communication, collaboration and integration between team members. To achieve that, the Cloud Development Center includes team rooms, which are large open rooms where employees are grouped by workstream. Each team room includes large desks to facilitate collaboration and employees can choose to have desks at a sitting- or standing-height.

With space for a dozen or so people, each team room only has one phone. The philosophy is that phone calls exclude others, so calls are taken in meeting rooms or offices instead. In addition, each work group can design its own area. For example, one team room called Pyke is dimly lit and plays heavy metal. Another group watches movies with closed captions turned on to accommodate an employee with a hearing deficiency.

“It all comes down to the health of the employee,” Wray says. “We are passionate about work-life balance.”

Other features of the Cloud Development Center include a cafeteria with movie quotes and occasionally catered meals, collaborative spaces with white boards, seating and video screens for impromptu discussions, and meeting spaces of all sizes. There are whiteboards in the hallway to capture ideas as people move from space to space.

“The engineers are always thinking about something new. They can leave the room and collaborate on a new idea,” Wray said.

The office design and company culture contribute to the company’s productivity, encouraging the engineers to feel like they are more than just a cog in a big machine.

“We challenge our engineers to feel like they can create an impact right away,” Wray says. “If they feel refreshed, they’ll work hard while they’re here, but when they go home, they leave the office behind.”

Bellevue was chosen for the Cloud Development Center in part because of its central location. Many of the engineers live on the Eastside, but for those like Wray who live in Seattle, it is an easy commute. Quality of life was also a big factor in choosing Bellevue. In addition to restaurants, casual meeting places and outdoor recreation, Bellevue has spaces for technology and open source meet-ups.

“Bellevue has a really good, business-friendly environment,” Wray says. “There are a lot of things we really love about the Eastside, including areas where we can collaborate with other people and companies like Google and Microsoft.”

Now that the company is settled in its new home, growth is the next item of focus. Wray hopes to grow staff to 250 or 300 employees within the next year and, rather than battling the competition, align products and services with customers’ needs.

“We want to focus on what the customer needs instead of being a ‘me too’ cloud,” Wray said.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to correct photo attribution.

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