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Dogpatch startup lets employees paint walls, walk around barefoot at new office

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“We want our office to feel like a home, to be comfortable and authentic.”

Photos courtesy of Gusto

After signing a 10-year lease on the historic waterfront at Pier 70, San Francisco-based tech outfit Gusto wanted their seaside digs to feel less stodgy and more like home. So much so that the company allows employees to help paint the walls and—brace yourselves, kicks fans—walk around barefoot.

The 55,000-square-foot space was once a Union Iron Works machine shop where ships were repaired from the Spanish-American War of 1898 to World War II. With help from architecture firm Gensler, Gusto kept the former shop’s gantry cranes with driver cabs, which were used to lift ship parts around, to provide historic accents to the massive, updated space.

Before moving onto the pier, the company let employees to paint the walls, including a 40-foot mural.

“The energy or ‘gusto’ these entrepreneurs bring to their businesses inspired us, and we wanted to bring that to live in our office,” says company spokesperson Rick Chen. “And because one of our company values is ‘we are all builders,’ it just made sense for us to paint the mural in our all-hands space, where we hold company-wide meetings.”

Also of note, the lack of shoes on employees’ feet. There’s a no-shoes policy at Gusto, which is interesting. To say the least.

The San Francisco Chronicle has more:

A wall of cubbies filled with shoes greets visitors to Gusto’s new headquarters at San Francisco’s Pier 70. As the 275 workers pad around their ginormous space, they sport socks, slippers or bare feet; visitors are offered disposable paper slippers.

“We want our office to feel like a home, to be comfortable and authentic,” said Josh Reeves, CEO and co-founder of Gusto, which helps small businesses manage payrolls, benefits and human resources. “We started Gusto in a house in Palo Alto and had a no-shoe policy there, and we all grew up in shoeless houses.”


The office also features an open central space (similar to Intuit’s 2017 renovation in Mountain View); exposed beams, pipes, and brick; and arched iron windows that keep the industrial theme running strong.

As noted in the Chronicle, Gusto shares half of the building with Uber’s self-driving division Advanced Technologies Group.

Last week, the city of San Francisco and developer Forest City broke ground on the rest of the long-planned redevelopment of Pier 70, which will bring thousands of new homes to the city’s east side.