All work and no play makes for a dull Viking.
At least, that’s what they believe over at a company that has been awarded one of the top 10 best workplaces in Canada, London’s own Big Viking Games.
For Ana Ivanic, human resources and operations manager, that success is all about creating the best culture possible for some of the most talented techies in the business. Sometimes, though, it’s hard for people not to only concentrate on certain perks and see the big picture.
“Everybody always wants to talk about the free lunches,” Ivanic said with a laugh. “Fact is a lot of the focus on social media has been on our workspace, how we’re so much fun and all these quirky things that we do. But what it really comes down to is that everyone works really hard, we’ve been profitable so it’s easy to have that kind of fun environment.”
But whether it’s catered meals, getting the chance to bring the family dog to work or enjoying some downtime in front of a gaming console, it’s the things that make Big Viking different that also make them such a success.
“When we first started people thought we made comic books,” Ivanic explained with a smile. “Truth is, we’re a little quirky and different — it’s not very cubically around here. We want everyone to be creative and in order to do that, you need the right kind of workspace.”
That’s an idea championed by co-founders Greg Thomson and Albert Lai, who have turned a partnership which began in 2011 into a gaming force employing close to 100 staff, from artists and engineers, to designers and happiness co-ordinators.
With a moniker like that, it’s hard to believe these Vikings aren’t all just about fun and games, but fact is the company is home to pretty big titles including the Facebook sensation, YoWorld.
Entertaining over five million fans worldwide, Thomson originally sold the game to video game developer Zynga. But when they decided to no longer host the sim, Big Viking bought it back in 2014 after a massive outcry from fans.
“The game had so many passionate players, they loved it so much, reached out to our co-founders and petitioned them to get it back,” Ivanic explained. “We weren’t very optimistic it was going to work, it had never been done before, but it did and now has more players than ever before, so it’s been super successful for us.”
Adding to their online presence, Big Viking will soon be introducing three new titles to Facebook and i0S users, and have even been researching HTML5 technologies and creating products within that space.
For Ivanic, getting the chance to see the company she started with when it was just the new kid on the block succeed has been a highpoint of her career. And nothing has contributed to that success more than the people who make it such a great place to work every day.
“When you look at any average employee, they go to work to make money . . . but if you’re working for one another, you’re pushing each other to be better and not wanting to let each other down,” she said. “That’s why we’ve built this environment of support and encouragement. Culture is super important for us and we try to encourage that in all our employees, it’s not about punching in and out, it’s about making the workspace work for you.”