LHV taking corporate workplaces further. Literally.

22. January 2018

This Estonian bank is redefining what it means and feels like to work for a bigger brand.

Would you like to work in a bank? What about a big telecom company? How about in a law firm, or an insurance company, or a really big tech firm? Did chills just go down your spine, or did you roll your eyes so hard you almost saw the back of your head? If so, was that trembling feeling based on personal experience or the stigma attached to working for bigger brands, or heavens forbid, a corporation?

What is a corporation after all? The word corporate simply implies to a slightly larger company. In a world were startup culture seems to be getting all the attention, the more corporate workplaces seem to get demonized. But what if I asked you when was the last time you read an article about how bigger companies, or ones operating in slightly more traditional disciplines, were totally winning when it comes to creating excellent, fun, cool or even laid back workplaces? Here’s your chance now.

Dear talent. What does your heart desire?
The opposition of startup and corporate corporate workplaces serves no one any purpose. As businesses, we’re all fighting for the same talent. And talent, well, they pretty much all want the same thing. To live their lives without work interfering. Not the other way around.

Research has shown that the number one career goal for three major generations — Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials, is to achieve great work-life balance and flexibility. What a cultural shift! Even if we compare the concept of work and career to what it was only a decade ago. Career goals used to mean climbing the corporate ladder, or becoming a manager, being able to finally take out that mortgage you’ve been dreaming of, or earn more money than any of your friends. Today, it’s all about flexibility and a well-balanced lifestyle. As an employer, corporate or startup, you’ve lost the war on talent way before you even had any chance in it if you’re not able to keep up with what the talent is actually looking for or expecting from you.

Almost 350-people strong, LHV can still be proud of maintaining a culture of a much smaller company than we actually are. Agile and innovative operations, flat corporate structure, and a work culture that would put many other companies their size to shame. A lot of that culture is based on offering our people what the really want, including flexibility.
LHV can probably not yet compete with the most flexible and remote-first tech companies and startups out there, due to some implications set by the fact that apart from our focus on fin-tech, we also offer traditional banking services. But by offering our employees a possibility to work from escape offices and do work retreats to other cities, sets us on the right path to not only making our employees happier but also breaking the stigmas of working for larger brands. And we urge other bigger companies to do the same.

Escaping the winter blues
This winter, LHV decided to take on a challenge to try out the concept of a winter escape office. Why? If you live anywhere in the Nordics this time a year, you’ll probably already feel the deprivation of sunlight and how all that gloom tries to suck life right out of you.

At the beginning of this winter, we rented an office space in Malaga, Spain for five weeks and made it into a winter office for our IT and Product teams. Anyone who felt like they needed a change, was given a plane ticket and was free to go and work from sunny Southern Spain. This was the first year we tested this concept and looking at the incredibly positive feedback, we don’t see why we can’t continue this as a tradition in the years to come.
Malaga not only gave our teams a pleasantly warm and sunny location to work from, but a change to interact with people they maybe don’t usually closely work with, see local sights, widen their horizons and learn the ins and outs of how to be more productive when working remotely.

Starting from January we’re planning to start organizing remote work retreats to our new office in London. Remote and flexible work is not just now a trendy concept that will at some point go out of fashion, and we’ll all return to working the usual 9–5 in one single office. It’s long been proven that in the right conditions, people will be much more productive in their jobs if you offer them flexibility and opportunities to pick and choose how and where they work.
For LHV, offering retreats and remote offices is not a special benefit we offer to just a select few, but a natural course of evolving as an employer and adapting to the talent market. We’re happy to see bigger brands doing the same, but when compared to many startups, we’re all seeing a steep learning curve ahead, simply due to managing change being more difficult when more people are involved.

Why be an advocate for less “corporate“ corporate workplaces?
Is LHV not competing with all the other “corporations” for winning over top talent? Why are we urging other bigger brands to also be more open and flexible?

First of all, debunking myths that in most cases do not hold true, is every company’s responsibility. And secondly, for LHV specifically, there are no particular competitors in the war for talent, that we consider more important than other. We’re actually competing with every other employer, big or small, successful and less so, one man bands and the ones with 1,000+ employees.

The lines between startup cultures and corporate cultures are getting blurrier as we speak, and talent is starting to look a lot less at the size of the company and more at how a particular job and company fits their lifestyles. Even when negotiating job offers, talent is increasingly more bold in asking for whatever it is that makes them happy at work and in the end, opting for whoever can offer it to them. And in most cases, more money is never at the top of the list.

And for job seekers. If you’re browsing the Jobbatical jobs site, in hopes to find your next dream job for a shorter or longer period anywhere in the world, we hope you don’t discard the idea to also consider larger brands. If you’re going through companies and spot a team size of 200+, and find yourself thinking you don’t want to work for a big rigid corporation, I do urge you to keep an open mind and look deeper into what the company is actually like as an employer.

Throw away all assumptions and misconceptions, ignore the popular opinion, because more often than not, you are in for a surprise.

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