ST. PETERSBURG – One of America’s fastest growing travel insurance companies is headquartered in St. Petersburg. It’s called Squaremouth. And, if you think their name is unusual, you should see their offices.
Truth be told, there are no offices at the headquarters. Most of the walls are made of glass, allowing everyone to see everyone virtually all the time.
“We wanted to be transparent,” said Squaremouth CEO Chris Harvey. “To give you an idea, everybody knows what everybody else earns, so everybody has access to the books.”
IS THIS ANY WAY TO RUN A BUSINESS?
Harvey is a 47-year-old native of England. He’s been in the St. Pete area since 1998. He wears flip-flops to work, but most of the day he goes barefoot on the carpet of his headquarters in a high-rise office building overlooking the spectacular St. Pete waterfront.
There are no traditional desks. Most of the work is done by employees wearing shorts with no shoes lounging on contemporary chairs and sofas.
“We do it to make people feel better,” continued Harvey. “We want people to want to come to work.”
I’ll DRINK TO THAT
The beer keg beside the pool table adds to homey feel of the workplace. Harvey wanted a British Ale on tap, but he was outvoted by employees who wanted Bud Light.
Employees also vote on whether colleagues get pay raises. The group also interviews new potential employees. People who work here have unlimited vacation, and are free to tailor their schedules to their lifestyles.
HOW DO I SIGN UP?
Surprisingly, Harvey says the atmosphere isn’t for everyone, especially those who like to hide from the boss.
“Because you are responsible to everybody,” he explained. “It’s not whether you can impress the boss and get a raise and get a promotion. Here, the boss is just one vote, so you’ve got to be able to impress everybody.”
Not only the half-dozen employees here, but also the five in Ft. Wayne Indiana, at Squaremouth’s other location.
“We don’t have any financial goals,” Harvey said. “We’ve always felt that the financials will take care of themselves, assuming we do it right with happy employees and creative people”
Harvey takes pride in providing great customer service. Squaremouth posted $7.2-million in sales last year from its website, where the great majority of transactions take place. Those who call Squaremouth will hear a cheery and helpful voice on the other end. What they don’t know is that there’s not one telephone in the Squremouth call center; they all talk on computers — and most aren’t wearing shoes.