We’re all guilty of gawking at images of global tech companies’ offices around the world – and what’s not to gawk at? The design, the technology, the ambience and all the perks that go with working in such a high-powered space seem worlds away from the average office. But Kindred Group has brought that to Malta with its superb offices located at The Centre at Tigné – with some added Mediterranean flair for good measure.
I met Keith Caruana, Office Manager, and Mette Lorenzen, Head of Customer Service at Kindred Group on the sixth floor of the sleek office block. They escorted me to The Hub, which is the social space of the office, brimming with striking fittings and attention to detail. It’s where colleagues congregate for breakfast and lunch, social activities, game tournaments, for a coffee break or a quick round of billiards. It’s where they hold large-scale conferences, plan to host movie nights and hold informal meetings with visitors, guests and among themselves. Such is the flexibility of the Kindred office, its overall vibe incredibly laid-back and welcoming despite its high-spec design.
Kindred Group – then Unibet – commenced operations in Malta in August 2000, just before the start of the Sydney Olympic games. The move to The Centre succeeded a completely different office set-up – previously, one office was based in Gżira while the other was in St Julian’s. “We’ve been growing steadily over the last few years, and have acquired many new companies,” says Mette. “In 2015, we acquired iGame which was based here in Malta with an office in St Julian’s, while our Kindred office was in Gżira, and this arrangement didn’t suit our integration. From a business perspective, we needed to unite, which is also one of our values, and moving to one, single office was the first step to making it happen.”
Mette adds that, although the St Julian’s office was fairly new, neither of the offices reflected the Group as it evolved into what it is today. With 11 main brands under its belt, and with current and future growth in the pipeline, there was a need for one modern office space to bring everyone within the Malta offices together. And The Centre at Tigné Point was just what the doctor ordered –conveniently located right in between their two previous offices, causing little disruption to the lives of employees, many of whom are based in and around the area.
“We occupy floors five, six and seven within The Centre, the office block itself being a prestigious business destination that is surrounded by many amenities,” says Keith. “We were able to design the offices from scratch, which gave us the freedom we needed to define our own identity within the block, in line with Kindred’s international image.”
Every floor is divided into two areas: the sea side and the piazza side, and while both sides offer charming views in their own way, the views from the sea-facing sides are pretty spectacular. “The first point of call for guests and visitors is The Hub, which is accessed from the reception area and occupies half of one floor,” says Keith. “It is dedicated to social interaction but also doubles up as a space for informal business activity. We have large screens and plenty of seating area for meetings and presentations, making the space both recreational and professional.”
“There are 47 individual meeting rooms spread across three floors, as well as a few unique spaces, such as the meditation area which we use for yoga sessions and other fitness activities, although they could also be used as meeting rooms if the rest are occupied,” says Keith. “We’ve also got a training room on the sixth floor, which was designed with newcomers in mind, who receive specialised induction training during their first few days at Kindred.”
One of the most outstanding aspects of the new office is its advanced audio-visual (AV) set-up. As Mette and Keith explain, the possibilities for interaction within and beyond the office, and beyond Malta’s shores, are endless. “All the rooms are equipped with advanced AV technology, making communication and collaboration between colleagues and offices seamless and smooth. The set-up not only unites the people within this very office, but also unites them with the rest of our 12 offices around the world,” they say.
In fact, the software and technology used for accessing the office or booking a meeting room is the same in Malta as it is in London, making it easy for employees to move between offices without needing to set up or sync their mobile phones or laptops every time. But the similarities don’t end there.
The design and feel of the offices are consistent across countries and continents, with variations that reflect the climate and region that the office is located in. “There were guidelines to follow in that we had designers on board who helped to streamline the design and décor of the office, through the choices of furniture and soft furnishings, in line with the design of our overseas offices,” says Mette.
“The fundamentals of the décor had to be consistent in order for Kindred to maintain its identity, but we also wanted to give it a local touch and, most importantly, give employees what they want, because in the end, it’s our people who spend most of their lives in this office,” she adds. “We brainstormed with management representing all the departments, asking them for feedback on what their teams want specifically for the Malta office – among the requests were a large sportsbook screen, because many people like to socialise while watching matches or playing games; the yoga room, which is a dedicated space for fitness activities that we didn’t have before; and an air hockey table. One request we discussed at length was the use of raising tables, and in the end, we installed one for every desk in the office.”
Keith adds that the overall feel of the office needed to be welcoming and cosy, hence the heavy use of wood for floors and walls, primarily in The Hub, as well as carpeting and sofas. “However, the use of carpeting was reduced considerably in comparison to, say, our London office, given Malta’s warm climate. The office also needed to be fresh, bright, and functional, the latter also applying to the little things, such as the placement of plants that need frequent watering. There are over 400 people working inside the office and technology exists in every corner, so we had to be conscious of where to place plants that need regular watering to avoid unnecessary accidents.”
From showers equipped with towels and toiletries, to a nap room on the seventh floor for those in need of a quick recharge, to free parking at the Tigné car park for all employees, there are plenty of perks to be enjoyed here. Best of them all however, is the food service, which is in operation for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week, with the last dinner service being at 9.30pm from Monday to Sunday. Keith adds “with people from so many different countries working here, the kitchen team works hard to reflect that diversity in its food offering – on any given day, you may find a Maltese ftira, Danish pastries or some Swedish desserts to tuck into.”
“If I had to pick one thing that really stands outs,” says Keith, “it’s the homely feeling of the office combined with the knowledge that everything is fully up to standard. From the food to the parking to snacks and showers, we give a lot of attention to peripheral services. So, although it is ultimately still an office, employees can come to work every day with peace of mind and a focus to work, leaving us to take care of everything else.”
Mette is in agreement, and goes on to highlight two favourites of her own. “Firstly, I believe the sea view gives a real wow factor to the office – it’s quite unique in that it cannot be obstructed because we can’t get any closer to the water than we already are,” she asserts. “Secondly, most of us spend a third of our lives in the office, and Kindred has set up this office to cater for that. We’re all for work-life balance, but now people can achieve that within the context of their working environment, and not just outside it. We offer three free meals every day and employees don’t need to travel far to get it; every desk is a raising table which can be adjusted to an individual’s height; every floor has a kitchenette so that, no matter where you’re sitting, you don’t need to walk more than 10 steps to get water or make coffee; you could do yoga or go to the gym, or pop in to do some shopping before you go home – it’s the full package really. It’s the Kindred life.”
This article originally appeared in iGaming Capital