The Vaimo Stockholm Office Story - “A High-Tech Place with a Warm Feeling”
Stepping into the Vaimo Stockholm headquarters, you are met with several things: an open, light-filled, minimalist office spreading in all directions, a warm welcome from Stockholm’s receptionist Malin Ljungstedt, and the walls behind you flanked in arctic mountain scenery. You may hear a sales bell ringing somewhere in the distance accompanied by hearty cheers, and a coffee machine churning cheerfully further still. You would also notice the diversity of employees, with backgrounds ranging from Germany, Spain, and Estonia to Russia and Iran. You quite possibly may also run into Vaimo clients, as the headquarters welcome clients almost daily. But Vaimo’s first established office in Stockholm was not always located in the current space - in fact, it’s got quite the history.
Vaimo was established in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2008 by its three co-founders, David Holender, Staffan Palopää, and PJ Utsi, who got the start-up on its feet while working out of Staffan’s apartment in the city. In the fall of 2008, the three entrepreneurs rented a desk and a conference room at Economic’s headquarters but soon moved to their first real office space in downtown Stockholm in early 2009. The office was a century-old, four-room apartment with a fireplace, high ceilings and wooden floors. Around this time, Vaimo gained its first few pioneering members, such as Kjell Holmqvist, Systems Architect, and Pablo Ivulic, Solution Specialist. In two years, ten people filled the apartment to maximum capacity and it was time to move on and a find a larger space to grow in.
The first Vaimo office
The next office was located in Stockholm’s trendy Södermalm district, in the “Skatteskrapan” or the “Tax Scraper,” so named as the building served as the office for the Swedish Tax Board until 2003. The building is a landmark in Stockholm, and with 25 floors, it held the title of tallest building in Sweden until 1964. Vaimo’s new office space was on the 24th floor and boasted stunning views in three directions across Södermalm and Stockholm. According to PJ Utsi, the best part of the office was that while the weather was overcast at street level, the office often sat above the clouds and delighted staff with sunshine and clear skies. The worst aspect, for those with acrophobia, was that the building shook with heavy winds. The skyscraper featured a sky bar and restaurant on the top floor, and several Vaimo clients rented shops on the ground floor of the iconic building. Again, Vaimo burgeoned to 20 employees quickly and started acquiring key brands as clients, such as BAUHAUS Sweden, Björn Borg, and Tilbord’s. At the same time, Wilko Nienhaus, Head of Products and Tools and Head of Hosting, opened the second Vaimo office, in Tallinn, Estonia.
The view from the Tax Scraper Vaimo office
Vaimoers enjoying the panoramic views from the second Vaimo office
In 2012, Vaimo began expanding fast, and opened offices in South Africa and in London. In May 2012, Vaimo Stockholm moved to its current office space in a building that was originally built a century ago to house the Swedish Match, the infamous Swedish tobacco company.
The building is still called “Monopolet” to this day, to reflect the original name of “Tobacco Monopoly.” The building closely resembles a bunker, with small, high-set windows, thick walls, and seven sturdy stories. Vaimo had the privilege of designing the new office space from scratch after the building was freshly renovated. The office is located in Södermalm, an artistic district of Stockholm that is easily accessible for all commuters and clients. The area has a creative atmosphere and is growing quickly, with trendy bars, restaurants, art galleries and retail shops, as well as cool tech companies and gaming studios, such as Minecraft.
The Vaimo office feautures windows on 3 sides to a 7-floor, indoor courtyard lobby - one of the building's special features
The panoramic mountain range wallpaper stretches for 25 meters
The office features over 1000 square meters of space and most was left open because the three co-founders of Vaimo wanted to be a part of the daily rumble of the office, as this accurately reflects the flat and open nature of the Vaimo organisation. The challenging aspect was sound-proofing the large open space, which required a smart layout, with sales and support on one side and delivery teams nestled on the other side. Padded sound absorption walls separate the different team areas and create team spaces that allow members to decorate and create their own micro subcultures. The co-founders wanted an efficient and focused development area, and therefore, created a lounge at the very back of the office, behind the team spaces. Today there are more than 60 people working at Vaimo Stockholm office.
In 2011 Vaimo also established its office in Gothenburg. Read the full story how the Gothenburg office came about from here.
A view to only half of the area in the office dedicated to developers and project managers
Sound-proof chairs are ideal for taking calls from clients or for having a private meeting
The lounge area features beanbag chairs, standing desks, a hammock, and relaxation couches. At the other end of the office, a large kitchen boasts a ping-pong table, table hockey, and a playstation setup with an oversized screen. The kitchen regularly hosts client events, and employee gatherings, such as breakfast every Tuesday, and snacks at the end of each month. Most of the office has a clean, minimalist, Scandinavian feel, with cool gray and white tones tinged by the Vaimo brand colours of orange and blue. In stark contrast, the main body of concrete in the centre of the office showcases over 25 meters of panoramic wall paper depicting the Swedish Sarek mountains, and the surrounding conference rooms are all named after the various mountain peaks in the range. In fact, the meeting rooms layout roughly matches the geography of the actual mountains. Two of Vaimo’s three co-founders, PJ Utsi and Staffan Palopää, are native Sami, and Vaimo’s company morale is metaphorically based on the arctic landscape, along with the company name “Vaimo,” which means “heart” in the Sami language.
The kitchen features a big screen for client events and to enjoy Xbox games on
The wall of fame- Vaimo employees certified by Magento (unfortunately the wall is not big enough to fit all 100+ Magento certifications)
Another Vaimo principle that plays into the design of the headquarters is the concept of the active lifestyle, as it directly reflects the company’s competitive theme of always being up for a challenge. Vaimo Stockholm encourages fitness and offers Swedish Vaimoers a fitness compensation package. In addition, the office is fitted with showers and locker rooms so people feel comfortable biking to work, or taking a lunchtime jog in the park adjacent to the office. Several Stockholm employees are involved in a company football league, and a group regularly hits a crossfit class before work during the week.
The kitchen is always a busy place in Vaimo Stockholm
Nowadays, the Stockholm office receives a great deal of visitors, and there are always free desks available to accommodate Vaimoers from other offices. According to employees who work in the Stockholm headquarters, the coffee machine is the heart of the office, and you can always find a small crowd gathered around the beloved appliance. All other Vaimo offices are modelled on the Stockholm headquarters for a very specific reason: so a Vaimo office, wherever it may be, will always feel like a home away from home.