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Reaching New Heights: How Stratosphere Networks Became a 5-Time Best Places to Work Winner

Friday, May 31, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kaylin Berg
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Stratosphere Networks team

Stratosphere Networks got its start in 2003, when co-founders Kevin Rubin and Steve Melchiorre decided to build their own business. Since then, the company has grown and evolved significantly from just a couple of people working out of a basement office to a team of nearly 60 employees with a state-of-the-art Network Operations Center (NOC) and Security Operations Center (SOC) in Evanston.

Over the years, the IT managed service provider’s leaders have worked hard to not only empower clients through exceptional service but also to make Stratosphere the technology partner that everyone – including current and prospective employees – wants to work with.

Many of our clients lack in-house tech expertise and subsequently rely on our staff to serve as their in-house IT team. As a result, leadership has made it a priority to keep our team members happy and to foster an environment that empowers and engages everyone who works there. Their efforts have paid off, with staff members’ feedback placing Stratosphere on the Crain’s Chicago Business Best Places to Work list for the past five years in a row.

How has Stratosphere managed to consistently get such high praise from its staff that it’s made the Best Places to Work list every year since 2015? Here’s some insight into what our leadership team did to transform the company into one of Chicago’s highest-ranked workplaces.

Investing in less stress

Providing high-quality IT support to clients – which involves assisting with relatively minor daily tasks as well as tackling unexpected tech disasters – can prove stressful. To help our team members take a break from the pressures of their demanding work, we set up a break room, complete with an arcade machine and a massage chair. Whenever one of our staff members feels fatigued and/or stressed out by a big project, they know they can escape to the game room for a bit to recharge, refresh and relax.

Our casual dress code also helps us maintain a more relaxed atmosphere, and we allow for flexible work arrangements (i.e., everyone has all the equipment needed to work remotely whenever they need or want to).

Promoting a healthy lifestyle

In addition to ensuring our team doesn’t stress out too much, we make it easier for them to stay in good physical health with regular deliveries of fruit and healthy snacks, as well as a workout room in the office. Keeping our staff happy and healthy is one of our top priorities.

Encouraging growth and continuing education

Stratosphere’s leadership understands that the company overall can’t grow and thrive if we don’t invest in our team members’ education and encourage them to keep honing and adding to their skillsets. That’s why we offer payment for training and certification programs.

Additionally, managers work with their team members to craft individual road maps that are updated on an annual basis. These maps include target completion dates for certifications that staff members feel would further their professional growth. We encourage everyone on our team to keep an eye out for relevant trainings and other professional development opportunities.

Getting team members engaged with our mission, vision and core values

It’s important to us that we not only clearly define our mission, vision and values as a company but also that all of our team members know those definitions and aim to embody them in the workplace. Staff members gave their input and helped us come up with the following, which we display on the wall in the office.

Our mission: To empower our clients through exceptional service.

Our vision: To be the technology partner that everyone (including existing and future staff members, clients, partners, and suppliers) wants to work with.

Our core values: Be hungry (self-motivated and diligent), humble (emphasizing the team over yourself), and smart (emotionally intelligent).

These core values were inspired by Patrick Lencioni’s book, “The Ideal Team Player.” We gave our whole staff copies of the book and encouraged them to read it, and we now have a quarterly competition that involves nominating and rewarding team members whose actions show they’re living our values.

This way, we ensure that everyone knows what we stand for and receives recognition for demonstrating commitment to the characteristics that are most important to us.

Leadership training

You can’t be a great place to work with lackluster leadership. That’s why Stratosphere’s executives ensure our leaders continue to learn, just like the rest of the team. We’ve sent our leadership team to trainings like the Global Leadership Summit and Lake Forest Graduate School of Management seminars to further their professional development.

Listening to feedback and always looking to improve

Most importantly, we realize that being a great place to work requires continual improvement. Our leaders have an open-door policy and welcome feedback from all members of our team concerning what we can do better. We’re always striving to reach new heights, and our commitment to our staff’s health, happiness and growth will hopefully help us remain one of Chicago’s best places to work for many years to come.

To learn more about Stratosphere Networks, feel free to contact us by calling 877-599-3999 or emailing

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20 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 1200
Chicago, IL 60606

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