Get ready to feel jealous! Meet the Malta-based boss asking employees to work LESS
Have you ever hit that 3pm slump at work and thought “I wish I could just go home now?” Well, for one lucky group of employees in Malta, they get to do that EVERY DAY!
Offices at Good Game Ltd, Gzira
Living the dream
Good Game Ltd has 12 staff. 11 are Finnish and one is Maltese. And it’s no surprise that many say they chose the company based on the reduced working hours, including 28-year-old Front-End Programmer Esa Holla.
“I always dreamed of working in a country where there was lots of sunshine and palm trees, so when I was contacted about moving to Malta, I was very excited, although I did have to look up where it was on a map!” Esa tells me, as we sit in the sun-drenched terrace.
Esa Holla and Ilkka Tauriainen
“I’ve been working here for two years. When Good Game Ltd first contacted me about a job, I was a little suspicious, as it all sounded too good to be true. It was the first time I’d ever been approached about working abroad and it was in a hot climate as well as with a six-hour working week! It’s the number one reason I took the job.”
“The way I work my hours depends on how tired I am. Some days I come in around nine or ten o’clock, but other days I come in later. It’s quite flexible so if I do a short day, I can work longer hours the next day to make up for it. We just make a note of what we’ve worked and make up the missing time if we need to.”
Esa is using the extra time in his day to set up his own business. Not that he has any plans of leaving Good Game Ltd any time soon. “I’ve already been offered other jobs for more money in places like the UK, but I’m not interested.”
His colleague, Art Director Ilkka Tauriainen, 35. also enjoys the company’s flexibility. He began working for Good Game Ltd as a web designer in January 2017. He’s also one of the first people to arrive at the office in Gzira in the morning – although that’s not necessarily because he’s an early riser. “I live in Msida, so the rubbish trucks usually wake me up early! I figure since I’m already outside at 8am, I might as well just go into the office.” Ilkka then works for six hours before heading home to relax.
“I like to do some traditional art, play online with my friends, watch TV or just chill. Before I came here, I worked as a freelancer in Finland for two years. I worked for an American company based in Texas, so because of the time-difference, my day started at three o’clock. I much prefer it this way.”
Staff at Good Game Ltd wearing slippers at the office
Not just ‘casual Friday’
And there’s even more to be envious of! Staff get to pad around in slippers – yes slippers – at the office, and can lounge around in swinging rattan chairs, surrounded by cool, calming walls.
The men responsible for creating this environment are 35-year-old Toni Halonen and his two co-founders, Ville Sissonen and Jussi Kauppinen. Cousins Toni and Ville came to Malta in 2011 to become professional poker players and decided to set up a company on the side. A key part of the trio's model was offering new recruits a six-hour working day - a gamble that seems to have paid off.
“When we were building the business, we asked ourselves what kind of company we would like to work for,” says Toni. “We’d done content writing jobs in the past and knew that doing it for eight hours straight can be very tedious. We’d heard that some companies in Sweden have had good results, so we said we would try it. Obviously as the boss I don’t work a six hour day, but it’s something I can offer my staff. Breaks aren’t included in that time, but people usually eat and are done within six hours and 20 minutes.”
Toni Halonen, CEO, Good Game Ltd
Toni and his team are now building their first non-Finnish website Bojoko (Spanish for "good game") which works as a marketplace for UK-licensed online casinos. “It’s been very successful for us," Toni says. "Last year we sold two of our biggest websites in Finland, with one selling for €15 million.”
“Retention has been very good, which has saved me a lot of time on recruiting and training new people,” he adds. “I was able to attract two of our coders from Finland, who I don’t think would have moved to Malta if we had had an eight-hour working day.”
“It’s also become our brand,” he continues. “I like that people can Google us and find stories about our flexibility. I’m even reluctant to encourage other bosses to do it, as it gives us an edge, but ultimately I think it would be better for the industry as a whole.”
“There is one component missing, and it’s that you can’t have a casual chat with your colleagues that often. We try and keep meetings to a minimum anyway, but now we must be very efficient with our time. It would be nice to have time to just chat on the terrace together about work, but it’s a compromise that overall we think is more beneficial.”
Time to forward this article to your boss!