bbv has had a branch office in Thessaloniki in Greece since 2018. Now the team in Thessaloniki is set to move to new premises. The inauguration ceremony on 17 May was attended by the bbv management team of Philipp Kronenberg and Thomas Gaugler as well as the Chairman of the Board of Directors and bbv founder Adrian Bachofen. In this interview, Risto Kyburz, site manager for bbv in Greece, explains the reasons for the move, the benefits for employees and new specialists as well as the expected benefits for customers thanks to the improved working conditions.
Why did you and your team move to new offices within the same region?
There are a number of reasons for this. We expected that bbv Greece would quickly reach capacity limits considering the planned growth trajectory. It was therefore already clear before the pandemic that we would need to find new premises. Despite the pandemic, the city and the region are experiencing rapid development. We could also sense this at bbv Greece and therefore began early on to try to find somewhere that would suit the company’s requirements.
You mentioned bbv’s requirements. What are these?
We wanted to ensure the perfect mix for implementing innovative and visionary projects and therefore set up get-together zones and quiet corners where employees can withdraw to. This allows projects to be carried out in agile teams and in close collaboration between the team members.
What impact did the pandemic have and consequently remote working?
The situation was unclear initially. All of a sudden people thought that the location of a company had become irrelevant. But we were convinced of the opposite. We soon continued our search and looked at various office buildings. When the coronavirus restrictions were finally coming to an end, we decided on the new location.
You are moving from the centre of Thessaloniki to the outskirts of the city. Why is that?
The new surroundings suit bbv better. While we were previously surrounded by law firms and financial services companies, there are lots of tech companies based in our new area. The neighbourhood is innovative, young and modern and there are many up-and-coming software companies. In addition, the location between the airport and the city centre is ideal.
What advantages do the new offices offer?
We now have capacity for up to 60 employees, compared to just 14 previously. We really wanted to rent premises that could be completely redesigned to suit our requirements. We have now completely remodelled the premises.
So you can work better there?
Yes, we feel the employees will enjoy this new location. But it’s not just about work. The new location is more than an office. We want to create a space where both employees and customers and partners can come together. A place to meet, exchange views and develop ideas and solutions together.
The new office and its location are therefore also a sign to the outside world.
Absolutely. We want to be regarded as the No. 1 employer. There are very good training opportunities here in Thessaloniki; the Aristotle University is one of the leading universities in Europe. Thessaloniki has lots of highly educated and trained software engineers and experts. They have high expectations and we want to be able to offer them something special – not least in the form of an excellent place to work. This also includes an office that offers a pleasant working environment, including an open-plan kitchen, meeting zones, areas to retreat to and, last but not least, an abundance of plants, lounges and relaxation zones.
You’ve planted lots of greenery?
And how! We engaged Greek specialists for the entire interior design and planning and they have done a wonderful job. They responded to our wishes and turned the premises into somewhere amazing. An office landscape with many lavishly planted islands. This has created a space that is ideal for working together collaboratively.
What are the benefits for customers and partners?
We want to create a place where they can meet too. The locality adds a lot to the company identity, it can be a deal clincher, especially in a highly competitive market. This type of space allows people to exchange views, discuss projects and develop solutions together, while contributing to success as part of an attractive, inspiring environment. Even if you only meet at the start of a project or from time to time.
What is the job market like in Greece?
There are also many companies here that are looking for good specialists. However, the situation is more dynamic than in Switzerland, because people change jobs more readily. We need to be and remain competitive with the many other modern companies located here in Thessaloniki. However, we are coming from a good starting position and attach great importance to upholding bbv’s cultural values. Among other things, this means that employees can have a say, participate in hybrid working models and take on responsibility.
You and your team are only working a short time in the new office. How do the employees like the location?
They really like it. We had a big party to celebrate the opening of the new office. We are now looking to see what is working well and what changes we might need to make over time. It is important for employees to have the right work-life balance. It helps that they can cook and eat in the kitchen, get together in the meeting zones or also isolate from others at times. Our location should be a place where employees identify with the company and share the same vision.
Risto Kyburz heads the bbv team in Greece. He moved to Thessaloniki with his family in February 2020 and has continuously expanded the site. He focuses especially on agile collaboration across national borders.