Senior Software Engineer at HqO
Anna is a Senior Software Engineer at HqO, reporting to the Engineering, Product, and Design (EPD) teams. She is a front-end engineer focusing on mobile development, and is currently working on HqO’s Platform team to perfect the company’s mobile access features.
You’ve been part of our Engineering team for a long time — three years! What does your current role entail?
One thing that makes my role a little different from our other engineers is the hardware element of mobile access. A lot of software engineering is done on a computer, but I run back and forth between HqO’s dedicated Access Lab and my desk at least fifteen times a day just to tap my phone against the reader and go back to my desk to see if it worked.
In general, we do engineering stand-ups first thing in the morning where we go over what we did the day before, and what we plan on doing that day, just to make sure we’re all aligned. After that, every day is completely different!
What exactly goes on in the Access Lab?
My job is completely dedicated to working on the mobile access feature on iOS. In the Access Lab we have all the readers for our mobile access integrations. So, if I’m working on a reader on Proxy, I’m going to be testing my code on the physical Proxy reader we have in-house to make sure it’s working.
One of the most important aspects of mobile access is stability: we want the customer to be able to trust that it will work 100% of the time, and so because of that access requires extra testing with that physical hardware component.
That sounds like a really thorough process. Do you collaborate with anyone else in your team or from other teams?
I genuinely work with every single team. There was a time at HqO when I frequently interacted with our Customer Success Managers and the Sales team to help develop our white label apps. I also coordinated with our Marketing team at times when we had to do custom branding.
Additionally, I work a lot with the Product team. There is a really critical Product-Engineering relationship here at HqO. I also work with our Design team, as well as the Delivery team to coordinate access releases and more.
Engineering is one of the largest teams at HqO, how is it broken up?
There are three big tribes within Engineering, the names have changed a few times but at the moment they are called Base, Core, and Platform. The Base team works on web features like HqOS. They also have a lot of teams within there, like the Analytics team.
Core consists of our core mobile functionality and tenant web functionality teams. The Platform team, which is what I am on, encompasses a lot of specific features. For example, it includes our access features, resource booking, service booking, ordering, and those non-generic features that are add-ons to packages and buildings.
Which projects have you worked on that excited you the most?
I’m really enjoying what I’m doing now, because with access the hardware part is so fun… There is no higher dopamine rush than when you tap your phone to the reader and it opens the door!
I also was recently on our order ahead team and I really enjoyed doing food order-ahead work with them. That was really fun and interesting to dive into for a few months.
As far as short-term features, I did work on our Capacity Manager which was really fun because it was unplanned. The idea came out of a hackathon we did at HqO, created by the winning team in response to the COVID-19 crisis. For Capacity Manager, you would get an email if you were approved to go into the office, and you could select your priority level for going in, which I thought was really cool and relevant!
Capacity Manager was also really cool because everyone at the HqO office was using it, too! Not just our customers.
Yes! I love when people use the code in action. It was nice to see people use it, which is also true with my access work I’m doing. When I’m taking the elevators in our office, I always watch to see if it worked or didn’t work for others! By drinking our own champagne, so to speak, we learn a lot and apply those learnings directly back into the product for our customers.
What’s something you’ve taken away from one of these projects?
I’ve definitely learned how valuable it is to keep up with the newest tech and protocols, and to see whether frameworks are changing. It’s really important to see how we can keep pushing HqO forward, and to make sure we’re keeping up with the latest and greatest in the industry.
Which features of ours do you think are particularly innovative?
If we keep access up and make it stable, it will be super ahead of the game. To be able to not have to carry key cards ever again would be super exciting, because it would make the first-day experience so much better. There are so many features you can pair access with as well, such as visitor registration. Imagine if all of a sudden, upon entry to a building, you’re given a virtual credential. That would be so cool.
In addition, the way we use our secondary content tab in the app is pretty unique. It was originally called the COVID-19 tab because that was what it was primarily used for at the beginning of the pandemic, but nowadays it is used for broader content.
For example, if a client has content in the app with a larger overarching theme, like building news or events, this tab separates the information out and makes it accessible to the users who need to see it. This is pretty innovative becaused our Tenant Experience team uses it for really cool content that can be customized to each customer’s property.
Agreed — it’s really cool to see our features being used in dynamic ways. What other technologies do you think have a place in the real estate world?
I think being able to centralize the user experience is really empowering because it brings together everything that people normally do on different apps on their phones. Having many functionalities such as ordering food, parking reservations, or visitor registration functions accessible all in one easy-to-use place really helps streamline the workplace experience.
Visitor registration specifically is a technology we’re using today that has a massive place in the workplace. My friends and family complain all the time about how annoying their visitor registration process is at their jobs, because when they have clients come into their office it’s a constant hassle. Visitor registration is something that people are running into as an issue, all the time. It’s a modern solution to the question of how to secure buildings but also how to safely have visitors in these buildings.
That critical functionality is definitely sometimes overlooked.
Yes! A lot of our clients in major cities use this feature, especially when they have to keep their offices really locked down and secure.
One future possibility with visitor registration is the ability to coordinate job interviews. The interviewer could send a virtual credential along for the interviewee to download the building app ahead of time, and they would be able to use that to enter the building, unlock the elevator, and know what floor they are going to from their invite. With visitor registration you’d never have to manually check-in again, and buildings wouldn’t have people crowding the lobby.
That would definitely make the interview process so much smoother for everyone. How else do you think tenant experience technology is shaping the future of work?
I think it’s going to help give the user more personal control over their office experience. Functionalities like access and room booking are super important to controlling your own office experience, especially when things are changing so rapidly with office protocols and COVID-19. Smaller things like ordering a coffee on the way into the office or quickly putting a work order in can make the workplace experience better.
Giving the users that power of customization is going to really positively affect the workplace and make people excited to use the app.
To wrap things up, what excites you the most about working with HqO?
My coworkers! I really enjoy the people that I work with. I trust their opinions, and I feel like I learn from them on a daily basis. There’s just a lot of really cool people here and really good people as well.
They keep me really excited. On all the teams I’ve been on, which I think is maybe ten teams at this point, the people have been rockstars no matter what. It’s really important to like what you’re doing, but especially to like the people you’re doing it with.
Inside HqO pulls back the curtain and introduces you to the people who make HqO the undisputed leader in tenant experience technology. For more information on how HqOS empowers your office, click here. If you’re interested in joining Anna and the HqO team, check out all of our current openings here.