The proof is in the pudding: we have many colleagues who have been with us for almost a decade, made careers, and became co-owners. Just like any other relationship we have our ups & downs. But we sort things out and get back on track, together. Whenever someone inevitably leaves the company we part as friends.
So what is the "it-factor" that makes VI Company’s culture so beloved amongst colleagues? Let’s check it out!
1. Our colleagues are amazing
Yes, it sounds a bit cringe, but we genuinely consider our colleagues an awesome bunch of individuals. On a superficial way we look very much alike (just check out our photos on the about page), but in practice, we’re all very different from one another. At times this causes clashes, but more often it results in creative interactions that push us and our products to greater heights.
At VI Company we combine professionalism, knowledge & expertise with a culture that puts people first, and where everybody is stimulated to have a good time with one another.
Richard Bekenbroek, COO of VI Company
2. Tough love
We’re a bunch of friendly folks at VI, but don’t expect us to beat around the bush. It's in our company culture to make it clear when we like or dislike something. However, we always do so in a respectful manner, preferably with well-thought-out points of critique. If a colleague is unable to properly argue his or her case we have an open discussion that will eventually lead us to the source of the concern.*Photo: Charlie van den Heerik facilitates a biweekly retrospective during which each team member gives feedback on all facets of the project. This includes teammates' performance, stakeholder involvement, quality of the code, etc.). The goal is to gather a wide range of feedback on the team's overall performance and come up with actionable areas of improvement.*
The feedback we give on each others' performance can be brutally honest at times. However, it always comes from the heart, with nothing but good intentions. After all, at VI we all want to help each other get better in what we do and deliver the highest levels of quality possible.
3. We work together as a team
At VI Company, our “average” project team consists of a Project Lead, a UX Designer, a Front-End Developer, and a Back-End Developer. All of whom work in the same (digital) space from the project’s very beginning until its end.
At our company you’ll never see a UX Designer throw a design “over the fence”. Instead, Design, Front-End, and Back-End work on the same features simultaneously. This results in an efficient synergy between disciplines.
Max Senden, Art Director at VI Company
This way of working involves every discipline at every step of the project. Oftentimes team members work on the same item simultaneously. Doing so enables the team to quickly process feedback and efficiently validate the features they are working on.*Photo: To help new teams get started we organize team building sessions where they have to work together to achieve a common goal. In this particular session, the team is tasked with assembling pizza slices. Each team member is responsible for one very specific element of each pizza slice (this photo was made pre-corona).*
4. We love our niche
Many software development companies work for a wide range of clients on projects varying in scale and duration. However, at VI we work in a niche; clients in the Financial Markets whose projects are complex, data-driven, long-running and require a good chunk of domain knowledge. After a project goes live, we keep improving on it by processing user-feedback and implementing new technology.
One additional advantage by working in our niche is that you’ll learn the ins & outs about investing. Not only is it interesting, but it also provides you with the tools needed to generate additional streams of revenue. But only if you’re willing to invest money you can afford to lose.
Although each project we work on is unique, there’s a lot of overlap between them. This enables us to take very specific domain knowledge & experience we gained from one project, and apply it (retroactively) to another.
Does the thought of working for many months on a single challenging project spark joy in your mind? Then check out our open job positions.
Everybody working at VI Company can buy our company’s shares. Once a colleague makes this investment he or she is officially co-owner of the company. This will provide the colleague with two tangible benefits:
- The first benefit is financial. If VI does well all shareholders receive dividend. Likewise, shareholders can sell their shares for a profit. Obviously, if VI underperforms shareholders risk not receiving any dividend. They might even have to sell shares at a loss.
- The second benefit is voting rights. Now, this doesn’t mean every single colleague gets to vote on every single decision that is made at VI. But when it comes to the “major-lasting-impact decisions” we like to hear everybody’s (informed) opinion.
*Photo: in 2017 we organized our very first trading round for VI Company shares. Also, each colleague was gifted a number of shares depending on the amount of time they worked at VI.*
As a shareholder I have a voice in how the company is managed, and the direction we're going.
Kevin Wareman, Solution Engineer at VI Company
6. Flat hierarchy
Want to talk to our CFO Tim Oskam about VI Company’s financial situation? No problem. He’s sitting at his desk in between the rest of us. Feel the need to give input on our company’s vision for the next 5 years? Go ahead, CEO Kees de Koning would be happy to schedule a virtual sparring session.
Don’t expect to be told what to do, or how to do it. But do realize that with that comes a lot of responsibility and self-discipline.
There are no closed doors or glass ceilings at our company. We treat each other like we would want to be treated ourselves: with respect, dignity, and trust. All ideas and opinions are listened to and taken into consideration.
7. Work hard – Play harder
At VI there’s plenty of cursing that would put a sailor to shame. Likewise, there’s intense cheering that sometimes seems to rock the building off its foundation. This is what happens when we play FIFA 2020 or Super Smash Brothers during lunch breaks. That special moment of the day when there’s no mercy for the weak, and to the victor goes the glory.
VI’s videogame champion is Jesse Lakerveld. He can beat the best of us with one hand tied behind his back. If you think you have what it takes to take down this beast make sure to write it down on your resume. It’ll work in your favor.
On an important note, we take our work very seriously. Any personal videogame feuds are only fought over during lunch breaks.*Photo: At times we even organize professional gaming sessions during which we compete with other software development agencies.*
So... are these 7 reasons the only reasons why VI has an awesome culture? No, there are plenty more. For example, we have the best Office Manager in the world. Our very own bar. High-quality hardware. Proper desk chairs. The list goes on and on... In fact, here are 3 bonus reasons!
We’re located right next to the Rotterdam Central Station inside the Groothandelsgebouw, one of the many architectural monuments in Rotterdam. If our office would be any closer to the station it would be literally standing on the train tracks. This location makes it ideal to reach by either private or public transport. Likewise, it enables colleagues to live outside of Rotterdam, and still have an easy and quick commute to our office building.
Our office space has huge windows that bathe the space in sunlight, and provide a great view of Rotterdam’s buzzing skyline.
There's plenty of space for every single colleague to have his or her own (large) desk, even in times of social-distancing. Plus, we have no shortage of meeting rooms. Something that is quite unique for an "open office" is that it's generally very quiet on our floor. You won't be disturbed by a colleague listening to terrible music, or making loud phone calls. Instead, everybody wears headphones, and the people who do need to make calls do so in one of our many meeting rooms. The only thing you'll hear is the gentle tapping of keyboards and mouse buttons.*Photo: an impression of our office at the Groothandelsgebouw in Rotterdam.*
Find your own career path
At VI colleagues are free to decide how they define their career paths. Perhaps a Junior Back-End Developer has the ambition to become a Senior Back-End Developer? Sounds great! Here are some requirements from our side. The rest is up to the colleague to come up with.
Whatever ambitions colleagues might have, at VI we go out of our way to support them. All we expect in return is a pro-active mindset and a go-getter attitude.
Maybe another colleague wants to make a career switch from Project Lead and become a Salesperson? Wow, that’s a brave thing to do! We’re happy to hand over the ball. But then it’s up to our colleague to run with it or to fall flat on the face.
Overtime is a 'no-no'
Have you ever noticed all those job openings that explicitly state that they are not looking for candidates with a 9-to-5 mentality? Well, at VI Company we’re the polar opposite of that. We put in (a flexible) 8 hours of work a day, from Monday to Friday. Evenings and weekends are private time to spend as we see fit.
Friday afternoon after 16:00 it's time for drinks & games. No excuses.
It's no problem if a colleague wants to take some days off to play the next World of Warcraft expansion on its release date. All he or she needs to do is plan it with the project team some time in advance. After that, it’s time to grind that lvl. 50 Orc Shaman to lvl. 60.*Photo: During summer days we sometimes organize Friday afternoon BBQs on our office rooftop. On a side note, the photo was taken before the COVID-19 outbreak.* 😉
We hope this article provided you with proper insight into VI’s culture. Should you, after reading this article, no longer be able to resist the urge to apply for a job, then head over to our career page. Who knows, we soon might see each other in person!
If you have any questions or remarks regarding this article please contact us. We'll get you in touch with the right person.
This article was originally written by Senior UX Designer Max Senden.