In the past 10 years, digital tools, economic devastation and common sense have pressured companies of all sizes to cut down on the number of employees who are assigned to take care of the office. Unfortunately, jobs like cleaning the kitchen and buying more grinds for the shitty coffee maker are being offloaded onto people that have nothing to do with stocking the supply closet — like social media managers or operations staff.
Managed by Q (or “Q” from here on out, for the sake of decency), is a NYC-based service that turns all of those concerns into, of course, an app.
The name was originally meant to invoke the quartermaster from James Bond — the generally older grey-haired man who, in a fateful twist of bad screenplay writing, always gives Bond exactly the bizarre things he needed throughout the rest of the film — but has since gone on to just be an office mythology of fluid and uncertain meaning.
The service work like this: you sign up, and the Q team come to your office. They check the place out, see what kind of tasks a cleaner or office manager or mail room clerk would do, build you a custom list of tasks to be done by Q’s “operators” — the hired assistants who do Q’s handiwork. Then they install a wall-mounted iPad as a dashboard.
From then on, that iPad is your virtual administrative assistant. If you run out of staples or printer paper (people still use that stuff, right?), you tell Q. You can order cleaning crews and handymen for hourly rates, and input photos to give the helpers your more high-maintenance instructions, like how to arrange the conference room table or how to put the dog toys back in the right place (if you’re one of ~those~ startups).
“Office spaces need three things to operate: people to clean and fix, products like soap, orange juice and staples, and tech tools to run that space,” Q cofounder Saman Rahmanian told Betabeat. “All of these things can come from Q.”
Q already handles the offices for Uber, Elite Daily and Kickstarter, the latter of which has an enormous Greenpoint office that’s built like an volcanic lair replete with catwalks and caverns.
“I remember walking into Kickstarter and thinking we were in over our heads,” cofounder Dan Teran told Betabeat. “It’s definitely a vast space, but our technology still shines.”
Some apps and “sharing” economy startups create ecosystems of mechanical turks and underpaid task rabbits who end up replacing stable, unionized jobs with hired mercenaries. Though Q’s “operators” are paid hourly, they receive full medical coverage.
“Our best cleaners are people with families,” Mr. Teran said. “People with those kinds of responsibilities can be hard to attract if you treat them like a contractor.”
The Q team insist they’re not out to build a contractor marketplace where they pay themselves handsomely as middlemen — instead, they want to free up people to just spend time doing their jobs instead of having to step away from their desk because that employee is the only one who happens to know where the spare Diet Cokes are.
For now they’re only in NYC, but want to start expanding by early next year. 150 startups in the Valley have already committed to to use Q as soon as they set up shop in San Francisco.
Now, if Q could figure out how to get our office to agree on a damn lunch order, they’d have our full support.