Company Culture
Remote work / Workplace culture

After a decade in Old City and tons of tech community events, Arcweb closes its office

Arcweb's identity as a Philly born-and-bred company has been important to CEO Chris Cera, but an evolving workforce called for a reevaluation.

At Arcweb's 10th anniversary party in November 2022. CEO Chris Cera is at top left. (Courtesy photo)
Update: Description of Chris Cera's thoughts on the city wage tax has been clarified. (3/22/23, 1:45 p.m.)
Late last year, Arcweb opened the doors of its 6,000-square-foot Old City office to celebrate a decade in business with the Philly tech community. It would turn out to be one of the last in a years-long string of community events hosted at the space.

The software consulting and development company’s local roots and location on Market Street near North Third Street (aka N3rd Street) had been a quintessential part of its story as it grew, founder and CEO Chris Cera told this month. But shortly after that party in November, Cera made a tough call: They’d say goodbye to their office in favor of a truly remote culture.

It was a decision Cera didn’t see himself making even a year ago. Past the deepest, darkest parts of the pandemic, when a lot of companies were heading back to their offices for hybrid work, he knew Arcweb’s 10-year lease was ending. He’d loved the company’s space, which held a special place in the Philly tech community. It had been home to a ton of local meetups and tech events over the years, like the Philly Embedded Dev Meetup, Philly Startup Leaders’ accelerator and New York Code and Development Academy panels. The office has also hosted mayors Jim Kenney and Michael Nutter, along with a slew of Philly Tech Week gatherings.

“We had 6,000 square feet, a beautiful space and had really outfitted it for the kind of work that we do — like, large open spaces, but also lots of small, collaborative spaces,” he said.

At Arcweb’s 10th anniversary party. (Courtesy photo)

Cera began the process of buying a building in Old City. While working with a realtor, he tried imaging this next phase of the company, while also keeping his eye on the general tech market and the return-to-office plans employers were rolling out. Soon, he realized workers weren’t heading back to offices with the frequency or gusto he was expecting.

“I really thought that there would be a stronger return to office than there was, and then over time, I just kind of accepted the reality of it,” Cera said. “I know a lot of companies have been successful. I just felt like the signal that I was reading in the market and signal I was reading in the community of people that work at Arcweb was that we wanted to be remote — and that we wanted to still get together and collaborate, but just not as often.”

A corner of Arcweb’s office in 2015, featuring a moveable mural by Philly artist Sean Martorana. ( photo)

Another cost besides office rent Cera considered was the City of Philadelphia’s wage tax: Currently, all Philadelphia residents pay 3.79% in wage tax, and non-residents who work in the city pay 3.44% in wage tax. Cera said he knew that unless those who commuted into the city had their salaries adjusted, they’d essentially see a 3.5% decrease in their take home pay.

It wasn’t so much an issue when Arcweb was getting off the ground more than a decade ago; then, it was a relatively young team, and a majority of folks lived in the city anyway. But as the years went by, the company’s team aged, too, and a good bit of them moved out to the suburbs. That coupled with the pandemic, and Arcweb’s roughly 30-person team isn’t as concentrated as it used to be.

At Arcweb’s 10th anniversary party. (Courtesy photo)

Cera said keeping his current employees happy has been a priority, especially as he’s experienced an uptick in Arcweb team members getting poached by huge tech companies with Silicon Valley salaries. It’s not an anomaly — smaller companies have had a harder time competing with corporations and handsomely backed startups for a long time. But it all added up to one call: It was time to say goodbye to an Arcweb office.

Instead, Cera has opted for a private office at Fitler Club’s coworking space, Offsite. He’s enjoying how many other entrepreneurs and startups have set up shop there, and said Arcweb will still plan intentional time together for employees.

Arcweb’s office sign at Offsite. (Courtesy photo)

The new identity as a remote company does pull on his heartstrings, though. Cera recalled the elevator that would open on Arcweb’s floor and bring in such smart people every day. But he feels assured that he made the right call.

“I just really thought we can be a better version of ourselves as a remote company,” Cera said. “I felt like I personally was doing a shitty job of being a hybrid company CEO. And so I endeavor to be an awesome remote CEO.”

Companies: Arcweb Technologies

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