What makes start-up offices so special that employees enjoy spending time there even after the end of the working day?

An open and inspiring environment, playfulness and a lot of natural light – these are just a few keywords that describe the offices of successful domestic technology companies, to which creation OCCO has contributed to. Representatives of three companies – Salv, Skeleton Technologies and Lightyear – talked about what characterizes the special atmosphere of startup offices, what goals offices should help companies fulfill, and how good furnishings support all of this.

Creative environment

The office of Salv, a start-up fighting financial crimes, is not ready yet, but Eeva Metssalu, the project manager who was involved in the creation of the company’s office, shared her vision – which is the most important thing for her about the office – and described the trends that characterize modern start-up offices.

“To generalize, it tends to be that since start-ups bring together people who have worked in similar companies before, the emphasis is on a slightly more relaxed atmosphere, creativity and an environment that promotes teamwork,” noted Metssalu.

“They often look for more creative solutions, inspiring interiors, and also want to add playfulness to the office and perhaps opportunities for leisure. There are also mostly no private offices, and the entire space is usable by everyone,” she described.

A place where the magic happens

According to Sandra Villmäe, HR and office manager of Lightyear, a start-up company developing an investment platform, start-up offices are special primarily because they are staffed by people who create something together that, in their opinion, makes the world a better place. “There is such energy and passion in the office that you simply cannot find in the corporate world. The office helps bring this to life – it’s where the magic happens. Therefore, we tried to create an environment for our employees that would encourage communication, learning and the exchange of ideas.”

Lightyear’s goal was to create an environment for their employees that would encourage communication, learning and the exchange of ideas.

The newly completed Tallinn office of Skeleton Technologies, Europe’s largest supercapacitor manufacturer, also aims to offer talents a place where their ideas and creativity can take flight. “It was important for us to create a cosy atmosphere for our people, where employees would feel at home,” said Arnaud Castaignet, Head of Public Relations at Skeleton Technologies.

“One trend that has emerged recently is that companies create offices on purpose where there are fewer working stations than there are people working in the company. Many people work from home, and the office is more of a meeting place,” said Metssalu. “At the same time, when creating an office like this, you must always keep in mind that there should be enough different areas in the office to make it comfortable for both those who work there on a daily basis, as well as those who come to the office to brainstorm with coworkers.”

Office: Skeleton Technologies; interior architect: Tõnis Kalve, T43; furniture and bespoke furniture: OCCO

“Since many companies allow remote work, the office has become more of a place where people gather to hold important meetings, brainstorm and socialize. Therefore, it is important to create areas that are aimed at this activity,” Metssalu described.

Due to the same practice, situations might arise from time to time where the company would actually like the person to go to the office to work with others, but does not want to make it mandatory. “When such a situation has arisen, you have to think about how to create an office where people are comfortable and where they want to work,” explained Metssalu.

Lightyear team has the same opinion. The company will be two years old this year, and the entire team currently consists of 40 people — just over half of them in Tallinn. “Although working from home has also become more and more popular for us, we see that a large part of our team is still mostly in the office. Thinking about this, when we built the office, we looked a few more years into the future, making sure that there would be a place for new employees who want to work from the office,” said Villmäe.

“Considering rapid growth when planning office space is crucial for start-ups. At the moment, we have designed more areas for rest and working together, which gives us the flexibility to convert some of them into work areas as the team grows,” she added.

Quiet hub at Lightyear’s office.

What elements and details can be used to create an atmosphere that inspires employees? 

Lightyear’s Tallinn office has an open floor plan with plenty of natural light, ergonomic furniture and comfortable seating and rest areas. “It was also important for us to add some fun details, such as beanbag chairs, standing tables and a playroom with cosy corners,” said Villmäe. “The floors of our office are mostly covered with carpets, so you are not allowed to wear outdoor shoes in the office. At the door, both employees and guests can find slippers to put on.”

In addition, Lightyear’s office is pet-friendly to make the environment even more attractive to talented employees. “An office dog always makes some bad days better,” said Villmäe.

Employees’ pets are also welcome in Skeleton’s new office, and outdoor shoes must be left at the door. The office is also characterized by ergonomic furniture and rest areas where you can take some time off and rest from the computer screen. However, Castaignet’s favourite place in the office is the kitchen corner, where people occasionally gather and communicate with each other.

The Skeleton office has areas with different functions: there are office desks and chairs so that you can immerse yourself in work and focus on your own tasks, and more open spaces for teamwork and the exchange of ideas.

Skeleton’s office kitchen corner, where people occasionally gather and communicate with each other.

As additional values, the office has a library, a game room, an invigorating sports area, relaxation cabins with a massage chair, and a sauna. “Since I’ve been traveling around lately, I haven’t been able to spend much time in the new office. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to try out our new sauna some evening,” said Castaignet.

A constantly evolving environment

According to Villmäe, it is also important to realize that the office culture grows and develops together with the company. “As we grow, we will continue to add and change things that embody our team and mission,” she said.

As a furnishing partner, OCCO helps companies maintain and realize their values by creating environments. As an experienced office furnisher, OCCO has all the necessary knowledge, skills and tools to provide a smart, efficient and sustainable turnkey solution.

With the help of technology developed by OCCO, finding suitable furnishings for office projects is many times more efficient and faster, and communication with several suppliers and partners is avoided. Thanks to this, the company is also a good partner for fast-growing start-ups that are expanding around the world and need fast and convenient service to create new offices.

According to Eeva Metssalu, it is important to get to know the company first and to understand in depth what kind of people work there, how the work is done and what the needs of the people there are for their working environment. “It is always pleasant when you can work with a team that is open to ideas and cheerful, that is ready to put the interests of its employees above personal opinions,” she added.