What We Learned About the Workplace Experience Using Comfy @ Comfy HQ

Philip Chan
May 4, 2018

At Comfy, we have one key mission—to help everyone experience a better way to work. By connecting people directly with the different systems in their building, Comfy’s easy-to-use workplace app makes work better by giving employees a new level of choice and control over their surroundings, all while saving workplace managers valuable time and resources.

Earlier this year, we had the opportunity to practice what we preach. We moved into a 20,000 square foot office in downtown Oakland, California, renovated the 1920’s-era building and turned it into our very own amazing place to work. Our goal? Design an office for the modern worker—one who does their best work when they have choice and control in how and where they work by utilizing technology to connect to the building environment. As part of this, each employee gained access to the Comfy app, so they could benefit from the enhanced workplace experience that we bring to Fortune 1000 companies each day.

“Our goal? Design an office for the modern worker—one who does their best work when they have choice and control in how and where they work.”

Now that we’ve been using Comfy for a few months, we’ve gotten some great insight into how our app has truly elevated the workplace experience for all employees—from the office manager to the engineers to the CFO. Keep reading for the top 3 lessons we learned from using Comfy at our own HQ.

1. Pay attention to your conference rooms: where there’s pain, there’s opportunity.

The pains associated with meeting rooms are essentially a microcosm of broader workplace challenges, for both employees and workplace managers.

From a space utilization standpoint, they are often inefficiently used—booked up with “ghost meetings” and deeply frustrating for even the most organized workplace manager. Enclosed spaces like this are also ripe for changes in temperature, light levels, and air quality as they host rotating groups of occupants throughout the day. Given that a typical employee spends more than one third of their working day in meetings, we weren’t surprised that our own folks repeatedly turned to Comfy to improve their meeting room experience.

But what about booking the actual room? We already understood that flexibility in the workplace is critical, especially with JLL’s recent study saying that more work and collaboration is happening “in-the-moment,” but we were pretty surprised to see just how many times throughout the day people need to grab a space quickly.

The moment we launched Comfy’s Room Booking feature, our employees took advantage: 10% of total meetings each week were booked ad-hoc via the app. Room Booking gives employees the ability to find and book any available meeting room faster—without running through the halls or scrolling through a list of random room names.

“I schedule and coordinate onsite job interviews, and on the day someone comes in for an interview, something inevitably changes and I’m in a mad rush to find an open conference room,” says Krista, Comfy’s recruiting coordinator. “Comfy has become my go-to for finding and booking a room on-the-go.”

When you consider the fact that these rooms would likely not have been booked otherwise, this increase in space utilization is a huge advantage to workplace managers trying to minimize unused office space.

Turns out there were a lot of issues inside meeting rooms, too. Of all lighting adjustments and temperature requests made throughout the office, over 50% of occurred in meeting rooms, followed by 35% in open office and desk spaces. And by empowering employees to take control of their own comfort, our workplace team spent way less time addressing comfort complaints. On average, Comfy eliminates >90% of hot and cold calls.

“When I enter a conference room, there’s always something off—it’s too dark, too hot, or the video conference isn’t working. Using Comfy right away to make adjustments helps minimize these distractions and get meetings back on track.” — Kira, Customer Success

And you know that feeling when you get settled in for an important meeting, only to discover the video conference isn’t working or the whiteboard markers aren’t there? Our employees certainly do. Comfy also offers a quick and convenient way to communicate those kind of issues with workplace teams through its Work Request feature. Over 80% of requests submitted at Comfy HQ were meeting-room related, and the #1 type of request was for A/V issues in meeting rooms.

Ultimately Work Requests served to be a popular way for employees to offer real-time feedback about the workplace, but more importantly it offered our workplace team better transparency into what needed to be fixed across the office, to help prioritize issues with the highest potential impact.

“When I get multiple requests regarding the same problem, Comfy lets me know which is a recurring issue impacting many employees vs. a one-off,” says Diana, office manager. “One example would be a recent sound issue. When it first came up, IT thought it was just a microphone issue and switched out the microphones in the conference rooms. But when the work requests continued to come in, we realized the problem was bigger than that and prompted us to find a different solution.”

By providing employees with the ability to control their environment, connect with their workspace, and communicate issues, Comfy made their day-to-day experience better and saved our workplace teams valuable time, particularly when it came to meeting rooms—spaces that often host important discussion, collaboration, and decision-making where people really need to be at their best.

2. Giving employees control can—and does—save energy.

We get it, it sounds risky to pass out “remote controls” for the office to everyone in the building. The most common fear we hear is that if people start adjusting the temperature so much, energy consumption will increase.

Facilities teams take note: it turns out, the opposite is true. Our clients see an average of 5-20% in HVAC energy savings as a result of deploying Comfy. Why? Buildings are often over-conditioned, especially in unoccupied spaces. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), heating, cooling, and lighting make up 40% of annual use of electricity in the US commercial sector, but it’s estimated that 30% of the energy used by commercial buildings is wasted.

With Comfy, heating and cooling is provided on-demand when it’s needed. Sometimes that means the HVAC is working just as hard as it would have before Comfy; but it also means that Comfy can limit conditioning in the areas where it’s NOT needed, such as an unoccupied meeting room.’

“I initially thought Comfy was just a great way to engage with building occupants and let them have more control over their environment. The fact that Comfy can also reduce utility bills is such a cool bonus and also great for the environment.” — Jim of CovoCapital, the landlord at Comfy HQ

At Comfy HQ, we installed a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system1 to provide heating and cooling to the building. Even with a highly efficient system as VRF, Comfy widened temperature setpoints by as much as 6 degrees in some zones—for a total estimated HVAC energy savings of 9.8%—all while keeping our employees comfortable.

“I run warm and Comfy knows that, so when I’m at my desk or over on the couches, it conditions that space to match my preference,” says Britt, marketing manager. “On top of adapting to personal needs, it helps us save energy as a company, and that feels pretty revolutionary.”

Comfy also ties into digitally addressable lighting systems, providing users with control over lighting. Through the Lighting feature, users can dim the artificial lighting when they are getting enough natural daylight or turn off lights when the room is no longer in use. At Comfy HQ, employees used Comfy to dim 67% of lighting zones, resulting in a 7% reduction in lighting energy consumption.

For a typical 100,000 square foot office building, those HVAC and lighting savings would equate to 21.5 metric tons of carbon equivalent saved or 7.5 tons of waste recycled instead of landfilled! It’s rare when an smart building software solution is able to have such a big impact on energy and sustainability goals while simultaneously delivering high levels of employee delight.

3. People like having one tool to address all their workplace issues.

As a fast-growing Bay Area tech company, our team understands the pains of the modern workplace. In the past year alone, we’ve resided in three different office spaces and have been forced to adapt to the ups and downs of each space—breaking a sweat in group meetings, freezing at our desks, and squinting at our screens in dimly lit workspaces. We’ve gotten lost in new offices and had trouble finding available rooms and been late for meetings as a result. We’ve grumbled over malfunctioning video conferences, we’ve experienced all your usual office hangups.

On the workplace management side, we also get how hard it is to create a workplace that makes our people happy—not to mention figure out what apps will help, and not hurt, the employee experience. “When we were building out this new HQ, we knew it had to embody our vision of the amazing workplace experience,” says Andrew, our CEO. “Making a lot of tough decisions about space, tech, and budget was an exciting experiment for us in meeting our current and future employees’ evolving workplace needs.”

As soon as we moved into our new HQ, certain things were automatically better. We had our own snacks! We had space for plants! We had new open workspaces and sun-lit conference rooms! But across the board, employees and the workplace team agreed that the biggest upgrade in workplace experience came from using Comfy. The ability to connect to our new office in ways we hadn’t been able to before—controlling the work around us and communicating more effectively with our team all with one app—made a huge impact.

“Like a lot of tech companies, we have a lot of employee-facing apps and tools. But the real-time response and control that Comfy provides really stands out from the other workplace tech we use.”

“I sometimes work a little later than others at the office and it can get kind of dark and chilly in certain parts of the office,” says Eric, software engineer. “With a quick swipe on my phone, I can make it brighter and warmer at my desk and just keep chugging.”

But, who at our office has loved Comfy the most? Nick, our CFO.

“So I don’t use it a lot personally, to be honest,” admits Nick. “But I see how much people enjoy using Comfy, and I see how much time it saves Diana, our office manager. She’s able to prioritize issues and make recommendations on how to better use space in the new office. And, it’s saved us money on our energy bills. What CFO isn’t going to like that?”

Interested in seeing a demo of Comfy’s latest features? chat with us.

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