Futurice

A retrospective on a year as Europe’s best workplace

Director of Culture, Senior Service Designer

About a year ago, we were delighted to hear that the Great Place to Work institute selected Futurice as Finland’s best workplace. Four months later, we were ecstatic to learn that the selection was expanded to include all of Europe, not just Finland. This was external validation for one of our core beliefs: it’s possible to have happy, motivated employees while building a successful business.

Today, we are yet again honored to be chosen as Finland’s best place to work. Our message from last year still stands: we want to share how we operate and what we’ve learned. We believe that every single company, in all industries, can have employees that enjoy coming to work every day.

During the past year, I have given over 80 (!) presentations about our culture to various groups (companies, schools, government agencies, at training events). I’ve learned quite a bit from these experiences, and wanted to share some of the lessons.

  1. Many people don’t believe you really can trust all your employees. The foundation of our culture is trust. We trust our employees to make right decisions, and to make them autonomously. Without trust, the way we work is simply not possible. Still, way too many people have come up to tell me that “yeah, it’s easy for you to trust your workers because they’re all so tech-oriented/young/from a similar backgound, but it would never work with us because…”. This is simply wrong. Being able to trust your employees isn’t dependant on their background, but rather on your company culture and ways of thinking (see point #3 below).
  2. You can see during the presentations that old-school bosses warm up slowly. In the end, what this all comes down to is leadership. It’s impossible to change your culture without changing management practices.
  3. 3×2 inspires a lot of managers. We have one guideline, “3×2″, for our way of thinking. When making a decision, simply ask yourself: “Is this decision good for our clients, our employees and our company financial numbers (3), both now and in the future (2)?”. This simple question guides people into making decisions that are good for the company as a whole instead of just themselves or the group of people that they work with. By helping people define what the “right” answer to a decision is, we can trust all our employees to make decisions themselves.
  4. You really can make a difference with one presentation. The most rewarding part of giving presentations is when an audience member suddenly gets it. You can see them reach that point from their eyes. This has resulted in a number of companies and government agencies taking their own versions of our practises into use.
  5. 80 presentations in a year was a bit too much. Sharing is extremely rewarding, but too much is too much. :) This year, I want to focus a bit more on our main challenge: how can we continue growing to a 200+ person strong international software company while increasing our employee and customer happiness levels and making the business even more profitable?

What has really delighted me is how many workplaces have a strong desire to improve their work-life. Finland’s Ministry of Employment and the Economy even started a program that aims to make Finland have Europe’s best work-life by 2020. Here’s my challenge to all of you: join us in making this a reality. Last year, my contribution was to educate 80+ groups of people about the subject – how many people can you affect this year? Share your ways of working, your successes and failures, your insights.

I previously promised to share our practices on our blog, and have unfortunately failed to do so. This time, I’m going to try to keep my promise. I want to share our challenges, solutions and what we learn. As a side benefit, this will hopefully decrease the need to give so many presentations.

So, look out for more content about our culture! We’ll be starting with a post later today about finding the answer to why we exist as a company.

Director of Culture, Senior Service Designer

Hanno is one of the founders of Futurice. He's always been a fan of good work-life and is obsessed with creating new stuff: company culture, work practices, digital services, furniture made of bended wood, …

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