Steen Rasmussen’s goal had always been to make his company the best place to work on earth.
“Our people were being lured away with salaries we couldn’t compete with. I wondered if we should give people more money but the problem with that is there is always somebody with a bigger wallet,” says the IIH Nordic boss. “We wanted to give our employees something nobody could else could give them, including more time and a better work-life balance.”
By 2017, Steen and his team had shifted to a shorter, four-day working week – the first company in the world with more than 50 employees to do so. Ironically, one of the results of this was abolishing home working and having a focus on in-person events and networking.
Fast forward to 2020, and like everyone else, they had to make some serious changes – and one of the biggest challenges was keeping the office culture alive. But what constitutes office culture in a pandemic?
Even before the pandemic, IIH Nordic was trying to find ways to keep employees happy. Whether it was an agency-wide cleaner doing the rounds of employees’ houses, offering them in-house massages, or having baking machines in the office, they’ve tried a lot. But throughout the pandemic, trying to maintain this sense of togetherness has never been so important.
“One of the things we’ve done this time is a voluntary scheme called Lucky Lunch,” Steen explains. “Every week employees have a random lunch appointment with someone else in the organisation, which means the intern can have lunch with the CEO. It’s all about trying to break the verticals.”
This sustained approach to keeping staff happy and sociable has helped the agency continue to thrive despite the circumstances.
We’ll be talking to Steen in more depth about the changes his agency had to make to keep their office culture alive and kicking, adapting a people-centric approach to the digital world of remote working, and how they continued to be successful during the pandemic.