Expensify launched a glitzy lounge where employees could pay $9 a month for coffee and cocktails. The company is shutting it down just 6 months later. – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

Expensify launched a glitzy lounge where employees could pay $9 a month for coffee and cocktails. The company is shutting it down just 6 months later.

David Barrett is the founder and CEO of Expensify.

Flickr/JD Lasica

Expensify is shutting down its upscale employee lounge in San Francisco.
The move comes six months after the space was launched as a return-to-office “experiment,” per CEO David Barrett.
Barrett said companies pushing a return to office mandate are “fighting a losing war of attrition.”

In April, Expensify launched a glitzy perk for employees and clients in its San Francisco offices: a lounge that served fresh cappuccinos, hand-mixed cocktails, and a nightly sabered Champagne toast.

The expense-tracking company described the space as a high-end airport lounge meets co-working space. Access was built into an existing Expensify membership that started at $9 per month, the company said in April. 

But the party’s coming to an end: The Expensify Lounge will be shutting down on November 1, David Barrett, the company’s CEO, announced in a 1,700-word blog post published Wednesday. The move comes six months after the perk was rolled out.

In the blog post, Barrett said the company set up the lounge to “run a little experiment around a very simple question: Can anything bring workers back to the office voluntarily?”

The answer was mostly no, Barrett said, adding that companies pushing a return-to-office mandate are “fighting a losing war of attrition.”

Barrett said the company “did everything possible to make the office as attractive as we possibly could.”

If the best office in world can’t compete with the local coffee shop, the tightly closed Pandora’s box of “work from anywhere” has burst open, and will never be resealed, he wrote.

“No amount of begging or coercion is going to work in the long run,” he added.

Barrett’s comments come as a fierce debate about remote work vs hybrid work continues to rage on. And while the Expensify boss experimented with luring staffers in with perks, some CEOs — like JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon — aren’t afraid of cracking the whip to get their employees back into the office. 

Dimon told the Economist in July: “I completely understand why someone doesn’t want to commute an hour and a half every day, totally got it. Doesn’t mean they have to have a job here either.”

Expensify, which operated on a remote-optional basis even prior to the pandemic, is headquartered in Portland, Oregon.

Representatives for Expensify did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider sent outside regular business hours.

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