How Offishall Uses DigitalOcean and Papertrail to Simplify Hybrid Work

Paris-based tech startup Offishall is all about simplifying and streamlining modern hybrid work. CTO Bruno Ronzani and his team rely on reliability, speed, and simplicity from DigitalOcean Droplets and PapertrailTm log management. This foundation helps ensure Offishall delivers the seamless web experience their customers—and regional manager Dwight K. Schrute—demand.

About Offishall

Offishall was founded in late 2020 in response to the challenges of pandemic-era hybrid work. Shortly after Italy went into lockdown, CEO Audrey Barbier Litvak—the former GM of WeWork in France and Southern Europe—recognized managing hybrid work was a major pain point for modern enterprises.

Spreadsheets and email weren’t efficient tools for organizing shared work resources like meeting rooms, parking, IT equipment, and recreation space. Just how inefficient were existing tools? Without Offishall, of a 40-hour workweek planning hybrid working patterns.[1]

[1] From the stats popup here: https://en.offishall.io/simulateur 2 hours per week for employees, 4 hours for managers, 6 hours for office/HR managers

To solve this problem and give employees time back, Litvak and her team honed in on making the hybrid work experience simple, efficient, and affordable.

How does Offishall work?

Let’s say you're a company based in Amsterdam. Most of your staff works from home throughout the city, though you do have a few designers and engineers based in Rotterdam and Brussels.

Your teams use a hybrid work model, with employees either working from home or coming into the office as projects demand. There are more employees than there are office resources (meeting rooms, projectors, monitors, parking spaces, etc.), so coordinating in-office time has been a hassle in the past. Double booking and lack of visibility into schedules and reservations create friction and waste time. It’s also not clear how much ROI you’re getting from your investment in facilities.

With Offishall, you can:

  • Enable team members to meet and organize themselves (“zero admin”) with a click
  • Manage hybrid work even if you don’t have leased office space by reserving third-party locations
  • Provide visibility into workspaces and resources transparently across all teams
  • Reduce the amount of time spent planning work from hours to minutes
  • Optimize your team’s presence in physical offices
  • Adapt your facilities budget based on data from real-world workspace usage

The team

The Offishall team began with Litvak, who quickly brought on Bruno Velours as CTO and co-founder. The team launched an MVP in January 2021, and they have grown rapidly since. Today, Offishall has a dozen employees, including four engineers working on the core Offishall planning product.

The culture at Offishall is hyperfocused on changing the way we all work. They’re building tools to empower employees to choose how they work. Along the way, Offishall is empowering its team to challenge assumptions about everything from UX to global vision.

Of course, making day-to-day decisions with a grand vision isn’t simple. Offishall has developed a novel, fun, and surprisingly effective mechanism to test product decisions.

 After sorting through the nuance of different opinions and decision points, everything about Offishall’s web application ultimately needed to pass these two tests:

  •  Would Dwight use it?
  • Would it enable Dwight to collaborate more effectively?

The product

The Offishall web GUI is designed to streamline the organization of hybrid work resources.

To design a “Dwight approved” product that lives up to the “zero admin” ideology, Bruno and his team needed to build an application that addressed the core hybrid work use cases without introducing too much friction. To achieve that balancing act, the product team designed Offishall for simplicity, transparency, responsiveness, and extensibility.

Simplicity

“Zero admin” means any non-technical employee can easily book or view hybrid work resources. The Offishall UI and dashboards make it simple for anyone to plan hybrid work. If the UI of a planning app isn’t intuitive and easy to use, employees either won’t use it or will waste time using it. The numbers suggest Offishall has hit the mark so far. Ninety-seven percent[1]fill in schedule information, and it takes about 20 seconds to do so.

[1] https://en.offishall.io/help-center - “Our users fill out 97% of the Offishall schedule in organisations of all sizes and with a wide variety of needs. Everyone plays along because they feel the benefits of being together outweigh the average 20 seconds it takes to complete the schedule”.

[2] https://en.offishall.io/help-center

Transparency

Collaborative sharing is one of the core tenets of Offishall’s design. The app makes it possible for all employees to work with the same information and resources. As a result, users are able to make quick decisions using tangible and accurate data.

Responsiveness

From an engineering perspective, the app needed to be able to handle the burstable nature of “normal business hours.” App traffic tends to ramp up significantly on Monday mornings and fluctuates throughout the week. By fine-tuning their backend and using DigitalOcean Droplets, the product team has maintained application performance while keeping infrastructure costs low—even during periods of high usage.

Extensibility

No two hybrid work environments are the same. The Offishall app makes it easy to adapt the UI and dashboards to meet complex office design requirements and company rules. The app integrates with collaboration tools like Slack and offers GraphQL APIs for custom integrations.

How DigitalOcean and Papertrail help Offishall achieve their mission

To support the backend infrastructure required to make Offishall a reality, the engineering team needed an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platform and a log management solution that was scalable, reliable, and affordable. Additionally, because building an app for a new vertical is complex enough, the team looked for solutions to make the technical side of things easier.

 

With those requirements in mind, Offishall selected DigitalOcean and Papertrail to help them build their platform.

Why DigitalOcean?

As a Paris-based startup with European customers, Offishall needed an IaaS provider with a strong European presence. With multiple European data centers, DigitalOcean could meet that requirement—but so could other providers. In addition, multiple IaaS providers could have delivered scalable and reliable backend infrastructure to meet demand as Offishall grows.

 

For Offishall, two primary factors set DigitalOcean apart:

 

  1. Simplicity and ease-of-use: With DigitalOcean, Offishall can quickly and easily provision or de-provision Droplets and databases using a UI, CLI, or API. As a result, the development team spends less time on ITOps and more time building their app. For example, with the database query statistics and metrics agent provided by DigitalOcean, the Offishall team can quickly identify where and how to optimize application performance issues that would have taken significant time to identify and address.
  2. Predictable and affordable pricing[1]. By saving on infrastructure costs, Offishall can pass savings on to their users without compromising performance. Additionally, the predictability and simplicity of the DigitalOcean pricing model helps the team streamline their budgeting and avoid billing surprises.

Why Papertrail?

Troubleshooting and debugging are two of the most important aspects of maintaining Offishall’s stellar user experience. When issues arise, their team needs to quickly drill down and get to the root cause. Offishall needed a reliable, cloud-based log management solution to address this challenge.

 

As with their IaaS selection, Offishall optimized its selection for simplicity, ease of use, and affordability. In this case, they landed on Papertrail, as it was significantly more affordable than other options they looked at. 

 

With Papertrail, Offishall can store and search all of its application logs quickly and easily. Logs for everything from SSO and user management to collaboration tooling (such as Microsoft Teams and Slack) are aggregated in Papertrail. Offishall engineers can trace and debug a problem without any friction. Papertrail made this possible and affordable.

What the future holds for Offishall

In less than two years, Offishall has established itself as a major player in the HR and collaboration software landscape. Litvak has made headlines by closing a female-majority first funding round, and Offishall is used by enterprises of all sizes—including Foxintelligence, L'OREAL, and Jellysmack.[3]

 

As of 2022 Q1, Offishall is helping over ten thousand weekly users simplify remote work. With DigitalOcean and Papertrail supporting the back-end infrastructure, Offishall consistently meets performance requirements without bottlenecks, even during peak demand.

 

In the future, Offishall plans to onboard thousands of new users in 2022. In addition to adding new hybrid work features, including an insurance product, Offishall is focused on continuing to deliver an experience that enables their users—especially Dwight—to collaborate more .

 

Disclaimer: [1] This document is provided for informational purposes only. Information and views expressed in this document may change and/or may not be applicable to you. SolarWinds makes no warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information contained herein.

[1] https://try.digitalocean.com/aws-vs-digitalocean/  from AWS and GCE prices based on Jan'18 on-demand instances in US regions configured with equal RAM and SSD, not including additional cost of transfer bandwidth.

[2] https://sifted.eu/articles/women-cap-table-investor-startup/

[3] Based on logos here: https://en.offishall.io/

 

 

 

 

This document is provided for informational purposes only. Information and views expressed in this document may change and/or may not be applicable to you. SolarWinds makes no warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information contained herein.

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