Few has found a new home. The digital product design and development company recently moved to 1308 S. Main in the historic SoMa district of downtown Little Rock. Well-known to locals for its funky artistic atmosphere, SoMa provides the perfect new hub for this creative company.
For the past six years, Few’s team of more than 30 people had been working mostly remotely across 12 states and three countries with a small meeting space in the Little Rock Tech Park that allowed for some basic office storage and collaboration opportunities. Now, the recently moved-in team has a larger and much more artistically inspiring space for creating web sites, applications and mobile apps.
According to the company’s owner, Zack Hill, when COVID unfolded, Few was already ahead of the curve in terms of being set up for remote work. From the beginning, they had built out a culture structure that allows people to work from home, yet still feel connected with opportunities to join all-hands-on-deck projects or sit in on full-team update meetings. “I think the ultimate flexibility is being able to work from wherever you want,” he says.
Now that many businesses have returned to an in-house standard, Hill notes that Few will always be a remote-first company, although he prefers to run it on a hybrid model. Offering more flexibility to employees via this new location, he explains, is more about strengthening company culture than acquiring a new office space. As the pandemic began to unwind, Hill and his business partner, Arlton Lowry, considered the growth Few had experienced in the last two years. “We knew there was going to need to be a more robust presence to represent our brand in a better way,” he says. They were looking for a space that would better represent who they are as a creative agency and express their company culture.
When Hill and Lowry began their search for their new headquarters, they knew they wanted to be somewhere near downtown, either in SoMa or East Village. Initially, they were looking for another lease, but everything they saw required major work in order to make the space their own. As the search went on, they realized they wanted more than a temporary space. If they were going to make an investment to create a place for themselves, they wanted it to be truly theirs. Not only did it make more sense financially, but it would solidify their footing in the heart of Little Rock.
Fortunately for them, the perfect place crossed their path. A property group in Little Rock had recently acquired a small historic unit on Main Street and they hadn’t done anything with it yet. “We went and looked at it, and it really just sold itself,” Hill recalls. The stand-alone building had a larger retail space downstairs and two apartments upstairs. “That’s what sold it for us because since we’re a remote first company, we have team members from Brooklyn to Oakland,” Hill notes. Few currently has 30 total employees. Nearly half of them live in the Little Rock area. The rest live in Northwest Arkansas or out of state.
Hill and Lowry have already begun to renovate and update the upstairs to make it a comfortable and practical place for visitors to stay. Out-of-town Few employees will be able to stay there rather than at a hotel and walk downstairs for work. “It’s the best of both worlds,” Hill says. The space adds value for both local and visiting staff members, and it also represents a cost-savings for the company owners who can circumvent hotel and transportation fees. The work upstairs will likely be completed by the end of the year.
Hill is hoping the staff will take advantage of the rich community experience this unique neighborhood offers. Families, friends and co-workers can gather at various coffee shops, sandwich spots, fine dining restaurants and everything in between. He hopes some will even choose to live in the SoMa area. So far, employees seem to be enjoying the new place. On Fridays, the office is generally packed. Hill does a team launch on Fridays. By Monday, there may be one or two people there. “That’s the idea,” he says. “The purpose wasn’t to force anybody to come into the office, but so far, it seems to be something people are taking advantage of.”
Hill’s intention for a hybrid office is to allow employees to interact beyond just working on projects together. He wants to give them an additional level of flexibility. If people needs to be home for any reason, they can do that, he explains. Or, if employees prefer to get out of the house and work at a desk, they can find that at the SoMa office. “The new space allows coworkers to connect in a way that has really been missing over the last couple of years with everything going on,” he adds.
Hill also plans to use the space to express a sense of creativity and community to clients – an aspect he felt was lacking at the previous site. “There was nothing for them to buy into from a culture or brand standpoint; it didn’t convey who we are,” he says. The new SoMa office features a commissioned mural created by Chicago-based artist Jesse Hora, who has created art pieces for notable businesses such as Starbucks, Shake Shack and Adidas.
The interior design is primarily an open layout with moveable desks that anyone can grab and turn into their own workstation. It’s more of a coworking concept without assigned seats. For moments when privacy or quiet is needed, staff members can take over one of the smaller huddle rooms, which are perfectly sized for one or two people. This allows for a private conversation or for making a phone call without interrupting others. In more classic fashion, the office has a large conference room, where the team can hold presentations for clients.
Post remodel, the new office retains its beautiful architectural details that enrich its historical character while updating to a modern space. Hill and Lowry added a large circular light fixture to the entrance to brighten the space and kept the exposed brick and traditional crown molding to honor its 100-year-old history. Before Few moved in, the space had belonged to an architectural firm. Before that, it had originally been the workshop for a cobbler who worked downstairs and lived upstairs with his family.
Hill hopes to keep the headquarters in SoMa for a long time. At the moment, Few is not actively trying to grow, but the partners are open to it if opportunities present themselves. The growth the team has experienced over the last two years has brought several new talented people onboard, but the additional projects and workers has also meant that the team has had to learn how to streamline and process the workflow better. Consequently, Few has become more refined in choosing projects that better match the company mission rather than saying “yes” to everything.
“I think my business partner and I would be perfectly happy and not complaining at all if we stay at the same size and just optimize the team to do the type of work that really ends up being positive work, profitable obviously, but also the type of work that we as a team enjoy doing,” Hill says. “But if more opportunities come along for the type of work we enjoy doing and is profitable, we’re not going to be opposed to scaling and growing, and I think the space is going to help support that in various ways.” Even without the apartments being completed, Few already has a schedule of remote employees who will be coming into the office to connect with the company leaders who are based in Little Rock.