Tampa Bay Times, May 4th 2015 – Downtown St. Petersburg employer uses Apple, not carrot and stick

Published by Megan Singh May 5, 2015

The local travel insurance company that woos its employees with unlimited paid vacation time, no assigned desks and a keg of beer always on tap just keeps on giving. Squaremouth Inc. is bestowing Apple Watches on its 24 employees to thank them and promote an enjoyable downtown workplace.

About a third of employees already wear their $349 Apple Watch Sports on their wrists. Those who requested black or pink bands are waiting for them to be delivered in June or July.

“When mine came, I did a victory lap around the office I was so excited,” said Megan Singh, the St. Petersburg company’s director of marketing.

Apple devotees around the world have been eagerly awaiting the watches since orders started April 10. Users can send texts, read emails, answer calls, pay for purchases and get directions with the device.

Squaremouth, which compares prices and benefits of hundreds of different travel insurance companies and sells coverage online, paid about $9,000 for the watches.

“We are a highly customer-focused company, and we’ve always believed that in order for us to provide the best customer service, we have to provide the best work environment,” CEO Chris Harvey said. “This is the third time Squaremouth has done something like this, and every time it’s been a lot of fun.”

The company gave out iPads in 2011 and 2013.

“We’re big Apple fans. Whenever Apple has an event, we’ll put on the TV and watch. We were all sitting in a circle watching about the Apple Watch and thinking how cool it was going to be,” Singh recounted. “Then Chris went into his office and called his partner in Indiana. Then he came out and told us we were all getting watches.”

The motivational perks and open, relaxed office culture (shoes are optional) seem to be working.

Harvey started Squaremouth with a $250,000 loan against his home 12 years ago. The company had more than $14 million in sales last year. It occupies the top floor of City Center at 100 Second Ave. S, but started in his son’s bedroom. That son formed a perfect square with his mouth when he cried, thus the name of the company. It also has offices in Fort Wayne, Ind., for software development.

Squaremouth has started its own line of travel insurance and sells hundreds of others. It offers around-the-clock customer service.

If that clock is in the form of a tiny computer strapped to one’s body, it would seem to be distracting. But Singh says so far, she thinks she’s more efficient because she can steadily glance at short messages and updates instead of taking a bigger chunk of time to read 40, 50 or more at one time.

“It’s been awesome for everyone here. You feel like there’s an added sense of unity because we’re all up to date with what (Apple Watch) apps are going to come up next,” she said. As for the employees who are cursing themselves for ordering black or pink bands, they too are keeping up with all the chatter.

Singh added: “At least they’ll be experts on how to use it when they come in.”

Read the full article online here: http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/downtown-st-petersburg-employer-uses-apple-not-carrot-and-stick/2228282