With its idyllic location overlooking the scenic Ta’ Xbiex marina, the Betsson Experience Centre – the main office of Betsson Group – has long been a landmark in the area. The imposing, eight-storey building is impossible to miss, as is the bustling activity of so-called Betssonites entering and exiting it with that typical camaraderie seen among close colleagues and friends.
Indeed, the Betsson office is more than just a building to anyone who works there – it’s an extension of the company’s culture and a means of identifying with the company’s values and philosophy, making the recent renovation works all the more exciting for employees starting to return to base after a prolonged period of working from home.
With a prominent presence in Ta’ Xbiex since 2013 – including eight floors in the main building and three floors in the adjacent building – Betsson has since expanded with another office at the E2 hub, housed within the Dragonara Business Centre in St Julian’s, in October 2016. What began as an office on three floors soon became four when Betsson Group acquired RaceBets International Gaming Ltd in December 2016, and with further renting space for future growth. In all, Betsson occupies a staggering 15 floors in two office locations and employs around 1,200 people.
Gerd Bergh, Head of Employee Experience, and Asia Palka, Reception Team Lead and acting Facilities Manager at Betsson Group, stress the importance of the office for anyone who works with the company, spurring it to upgrade some of its facilities over the past year.
Our office environment is an essential part of the employee experience, the look and feel of the workplace play an important part in our daily life at Betsson. It supports productivity, employee satisfaction and our workday energy,” they explain. “At the end of the day, we want our Betssonites to enjoy coming to work, and the workplace setting is a big part of the experience.”
As a company operating within such a fast-paced industry, Gerd and Asia explain that Betsson Group felt the need for a refresh to its premises, to keep up with the latest trends, both from an aesthetic and a functional perspective.
“In our headquarters in Ta’ Xbiex, the reception, café, as well as the recreational area on the eighth floor are where the biggest changes were made, giving them a totally new look and feel. And our base in St Julian’s is up for a facelift as well, where we’ve recently started refurbishment works too.”
Upon entering the building, staff and visitors are welcomed into an impressive double-height entrance, embellished with colourful elements ranging from blue armchairs and grey sofas decked out with orange cushions, to a stunning reception area accentuated by wooden slats. Nearby, the quirky café is the perfect place for a pit-stop, cleverly incorporating iGaming elements, Betsson’s many awards and achievements, and a laid-back design, making it a great spot for catching up with colleagues.
Expanding on the re-designed floors, Stephanie Bason, Director and Architect at Base Architecture – the firm responsible for carrying out the works – explains her thought process behind the refurbishment. “Times have changed, and so has the traditional office set-up. As a result, we proposed a design concept that would cater to those needs while focusing on creating a more industry-oriented space with a bit of an urban twist.”
Stephanie adds that, over the years, Base Architecture has been fortunate enough to work hand-in-hand with the main stakeholders at Betsson Group. “This has resulted in the inception of what we like to call the ‘Betsson Building Brand’, a concept that encapsulates a quality standard and recognisable aesthetic vital for the global alignment of all Betsson Group offices.”
This approach encompasses a variety of elements – one being the use of company colours repeated throughout all spaces and accentuated via furniture and soft furnishings. “The second element refers to the incorporation of company branding and industry orientation in the form of signage and playful décor relating to the iGaming field, while the third element consists of carefully selected materials and finishes, such as light timber and brick cladding reminiscent of Betsson Group’s Scandinavian roots,” the architect explains. “In conjunction, the implementation of these features has allowed us to build the recognisable ‘Betsson Building Brand’, which we have successfully incorporated in several of their offices globally.”
On the eighth floor, Betsson’s recreational space, the design approach was completely different to that adopted for the reception area and café. Instantly striking is the widespread use of greenery on the floors, ceilings and walls, as well as eye-catching neon signs and fun design details, such as a large pink flamingo sitting atop a car.
Stephanie explains that, when designing an office of this kind, the goal is always to create an inspiring yet functional space with the end-user in mind. “In this case, for us to really focus on employee well-being, it was imperative to create a retreat where anyone can run off to for a much-needed break in the midst of a busy work-day.”
“Plants have been scientifically proven to lower stress levels while promoting mindfulness and productivity, when weaved throughout buildings and communities,” she explains. “Located within a rather urban area, we felt the Betsson Group office lacked a natural feel, so the implementation of the greenery was a no-brainer in achieving this result.”
Over the past year and a half, ever since the start of the pandemic and the subsequent mass migration of most employees from the office to a remote set-up, the future of the office space as we know it has been called into question. Will it retain its value among employees who might have become comfortable with working from home? Is it still worth investing in a high-spec office set-up?
Indeed, just last month, Betsson announced its new ‘Hybrid WFH’ model, which allows employees the freedom to work both remotely and from the office. Additionally, the company announced that employees will be able to work remotely from abroad for two weeks per year – a particularly attractive option for expats who wish to visit home for a stretch of time. Given these perks, will the office retain its value among Betssonites?
“Yes, for sure!” say Gerd and Asia. “The ‘Hybrid WFH’ model, as we at Betsson call it, will really offer the best of two worlds and accommodate what many of our employees want: more freedom and flexibility.”
“We will have two days in the office, and then we can work three days remotely if we wish to, offering the benefits of working from home while having the opportunity to meet up with our colleagues in real life for creative meetings, lunches and after-work get-togethers,” they explain. “We really believe that having the chance to meet up in our attractive offices will mean a lot to our Betssonites and will continue to strengthen the already fantastic Betsson culture.”
Sharing what they believe to be the most outstanding elements of the newly renovated areas, Gerd and Asia consider the openness and playfulness of the spaces to be up there on the list of their many attractive qualities – “It’s a cool design, but at the same time, it’s warm and inviting.”
For the architect, choosing a favourite is somewhat trickier. “Upon entering the office, one of the most eye-catching features is the double-height entrance. On the left-hand side, the prominent reception desk stands majestically in-front of a multi-screen media wall highlighted by the timber slats that surround it, while the security desk on the right sits below an intricate structure housing a series of proudly displayed trophies and awards,” says Stephanie.
“Although rather noteworthy, I wouldn’t say this is our favourite aspect at Base Architecture. Instead, the recreational area on the eighth floor is what we consider the most outstanding, particularly due to the thought and detail that went into this space,” she explains.
“Having a large enough floor plate to work with, the concept was based on introducing a mini-village that would really push the limit on the work-life balance approach. So, we designed a series of commodities typically found in a little town, including a restaurant-like kitchen with an adjoining lounge, a ‘street’ with its one and only car, a diner with an arcade, a park with a ‘beer garden’ dining space, as well as a fully-fledged pub with its very own beer on tap!”
This feature was first carried in the summer edition of iGaming Capital magazine, the sister brand to iGamingCapital.mt
All photos by Sergio Morana
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