April 24, 2017by Hollie Wegman ・ Office Hacks

Hack #46 — Zendesk’s IT Vending Machine

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Zendesk builds software that simplifies interactions between businesses and their customers. This is their head office in San Francisco.

Zendesk had humble beginnings in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2007. It was started by three friends sitting around a desk which was actually an old kitchen door. But now it’s a rapidly growing company, with real desks, and over 1600 employees around the world.

With more employees came time-consuming requests for the company’s IT service desk. But a lot of them were for simple equipment upgrades: dead keyboards, misplaced laptop chargers, and smashed headphones. Instead of having staff running around the building delivering replacements, Zendesk decided to revisit its roots:

Keep things simple, keep things Zen.

This led to the Zendesk IT Vending Machine.

For most people, a vending machine answers the cries of midday hunger pangs. But there are no salty or sweet snacks here.

Instead, these machines vend everything from adaptors to headphones, trackpads, keyboards…and temporary Zendesk tattoos!

The machines are on every other floor so employees can find what they want quickly and easily. To access the machine, an employee simply has to swipe their electronic ID badge and they’ll get what they need.

I mean that’s part of what Zendesk is. We care a lot about making things effortless for our customers, which is in this case our employees, so it’s like we’re living and breathing our product message right here in our own environment.”

Monica Norton, Senior Director of Content Marketing at Zendesk

How to hack it

Zendesk ordered their machines from IVM Inc, a company that has helped other tech firms create similar IT vending machines.

Zendesk modified some of the slots sized for potato chip bags to accommodate keyboards. This was done by taking longer coils and stretching them across two or three slots.

The payment sensors were retrofitted to identify employee ID badges. Zendesk’s IT department sends a .csv file via FTP daily containing those badge IDs to IVM.