Home security company SimpliSafe signs deal to double the size of its Boston headquarters in 2022

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SimpliSafe also expects office life to be turned upside down and is investing $40 million to redesign its new headquarters accordingly. There will be more places for formal and informal meetings and more connections to transfer colleagues from home, and fewer workstations assigned to specific people. CEO Christian Cerda said he is embracing hybrid working, with employees in the office on some days and working from home on other days.

“I firmly believe that the traditional role of the office will have changed forever,” Cerda said. “But our human nature of needing contact, of having those close conversations, of having that engagement and that camaraderie that sometimes only really forms by being in the same place as your teammates, can’t be replicated via Zoom or the metaverse or any other kind of technologies.”

Revenue and subscriber growth has taken off at SimpliSafe since private equity firm Hellman & Friedman acquired a majority stake in 2018, an investment that has allowed SimpliSafe to strengthen its engineering and marketing. (Terms were not disclosed, but TechCrunch reported at the time that the deal valued SimpliSafe at around $1 billion.) As a result, the workforce also grew.

Three years ago, SimpliSafe had nearly 190 employees in Boston. That number is now around 450, out of a total workforce of 850. (SimpliSafe also has a warehouse in Taunton, a call center in Richmond, Virginia, and an outpost in the UK.) Cerda plans to expand add at least 100 people. each year for the next five years, most of them software or hardware engineers, to grow the company’s Boston workforce to approximately 1,000. SimpliSafe specializes in easy home security devices to assemble – alarms, cameras, etc. – and sells a monthly subscription service to support them; the most popular plan costs $24.99 per month.

Right now, maybe 20 or 30 employees come into the office every day, a number Cerda said he hopes to increase as COVID-19 recedes, hopefully early next year. Like many CEOs, he looks forward to seeing his employees in person.

“Yes, we have to offer flexibility to our employees, [but] we should never underestimate the true power of being able to collaborate in one place,” Cerda said.

It’s the kind of move that will be welcomed by the city’s commercial real estate sector, which has seen major lease signings mostly disappear since COVID-19 hit in March 2020.

Aaron Jodka, director of research at real estate brokerage Colliers International, said he was starting to see signs of recovery. This year in Boston, Amazon signed the city’s largest new lease — 630,000 square feet for a second building in the seaport — but that deal was in the works long before the pandemic hit. Also in 2021, financial management giant Wellington signed a 524,000 square foot lease to expand its existing headquarters on Fort Point Channel by approximately 66,000 square feet, while sports technology company Whoop signed an agreement of 121,000 square feet in Kenmore Square.

“We’re seeing an upturn in tenant activity, we’re seeing tenants on tour,” Jodka said. “We have heard of a few major tenants who have committed to renting space and are in the process of negotiating a lease. … Tenant demand is increasing.

But it will take a long time for foot traffic to recover in Boston’s central business district. Today, Jodka estimates that office occupancy is, on average, a quarter of pre-pandemic levels, as many workers continue to work from home five days a week. The repercussions for the tenants on the ground floor have been dramatic.

“Your sandwich shops, your cafes, the places you went to regularly, a lot of them can’t do that,” Jodka said.

Meanwhile, managers are still trying to come up with a long-term plan for their office workers that incorporates more of a hybrid approach — much like what SimpliSafe envisions.

“Here we are, a year and a half later,” Jodka said, “and we still don’t know what the future of work is.”


Jon Chesto can be contacted at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.

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