“Every Lob office has been centered around a kitchen,” Lob CEO Leore Avidar said. “In the early days, there was a lot of cooking together.”
Lob’s first office, as a brand-new tech company, was anchored in Avidar’s apartment. Come dinner time, employees would hear vegetables being chopped and smell savory aromas sizzling on stovetop pans. After everyone gathered to help cook, they would break bread together as a team tradition.
Lob’s second workplace included new digs — but the importance of kitchen and community remained.
“We moved out of my apartment and into a really tiny office,” Avidar said. “But everyone would come back to my place to have weekly dinners together on this long table.”
As the company grew, so did the reasons to celebrate.
“There was a deal that we closed in 2017 that materially catapulted the company overnight,” Avidar recalled. “I ordered a huge cake, and we all stopped what we were doing to gather with our friends and families to celebrate. We took a moment in time to recognize not just the deal from the last month, but every little thing we had been working on for three years.”
In the years since their 2013 founding, Lob’s food and community culture has expanded beyond the long table in Avidar’s apartment to the modern, spacious kitchen at the heart of their current office and even to Michelin-starred restaurants.
With these shared community traditions, the company has also introduced a celebration of annual work anniversaries called “Lobiversaries.”
What they do
“For my three-year Lobiversary, I got to go to Benu, a three-Michelin star restaurant here in San Francisco,” Stephen Vais said. “We had close to twenty dishes. I had jellyfish for the first time and this extremely memorable abalone and rice dish. A bucket-list experience for sure.”
This wasn’t the first Lobiversary that Vais, a senior strategic account executive, had celebrated with food. For his first anniversary working at Lob, Vais received a pizza oven following a roast from his team that paired memories of his accomplishments with a collection of sometimes-embarrassing photos.
“My love of cooking was one of the first ways that I connected with my team members,” Vais said. “My colleague on the sales team, Larry, and I both enjoy making pizza, and he recommended it.”
For Avidar, the Lobiversary celebrations began as a way to honor the commitment and investment employees gave to the company.
“In the early years, it always meant a lot when someone believed in me and came to work for me,” he said. “When the average time that someone stays at a startup is under two years, staying for a year is a really special moment. So I wanted to show my appreciation for them. In my head, I was like, ‘Well, I’ve gotten to know this person over a year. What can I do to delight them? I’m going to get them something that they really want.’”
The First Lobiversary
Lob’s culture of personalized support goes far beyond Lobiversaries.
When Vais and his wife welcomed their first child in October 2019, they anticipated using parental leave to extend the time before using daycare. But in March 2020, their plans changed.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, all the daycares closed down, and we were sitting there thinking, ‘What are we going to do?’” Vais recalled. “Luckily, we have family nearby for help, but one of the things that I’ll always appreciate about Lob is the flexibility they provided me during that time around how I could utilize my paternity leave.”
Vais worked on a plan with the management and HR teams to spread his leave over the course of the year.
“The plan allowed me to continue to sell and to do my job, but I was able to take the days I needed to focus on solving for childcare and looking after my son,” he said. “We didn’t have any other options, and that flexibility was really a way of embracing diversity within our team.”
Lob’s Core Values
- Own the outcome
- Move fast, take action
- Level up
- Curate experiences
- Empower diversity
- Be bold
Vais’s parental leave wasn’t the only Lob benefit that shifted due to the pandemic. When Employee Experience Specialist Natasha Kashi started at the company, she heard fellow Lobsters share their nostalgia for the in-person culture of shared meals, happy hours and off-sites.
After finally meeting colleagues face-to-face eight months after joining Lob, Kashi considered how to help others connect across their newly-distributed team.
“I worked to create this initiative called the Lobster Happy Hour Program. Everyone at Lob gets a monthly $20 stipend to connect with someone on Zoom or in person in their own geographic area,” Kashi said. “The only requirement is that you post a photo of your happy hour on a specific Slack channel. It’s been nice to see people connecting.”
Kashi also created regional Slack channels for Lobsters across the country that help people bond over local connections and sent out surveys to learn how people wanted to connect across the organization.
“I wanted to empower people to meet up in their own areas because everyone craves that connection,” she said.
That level of personal connection fits into Avidar’s priorities for building relationships across Lob.
“We know from the ‘love languages’ test that everyone has ways they want to connect,” he said. “Everyone has a work love language, too. It can be gifting or quality time — I just want them to feel appreciated.”