Grand opening of IKEA store in Riga. It would be rather hard to find a single person in Latvia who would not be excited about this occasion. It looked like people split into various groups. There were those who cancelled their trips to Lithuanian store and counted days left until the official megastore opening in Riga. Hundreds of Latvians kept themselves busy with rewriting and rethinking their shopping lists, picking things to buy at local IKEA. There were also those who were getting impressed with the speed of construction and how quickly engineers made the new building “stand” above the city scenery. There very also those, of course, who ‘hated’ it all - the overall quality of the build and cheeky store guidance system that takes you through predefined routes and spits you out at the counter, seconds before you end up with miles long receipt and are guided to the exit.
Some were happy people, dreaming about job market growth and appearance of new vacancies - nine to five and not too far away from home. Some were sad people, because local market was about to take a hit after attempting to fight a Swedish giant. However, one thing was 100% clear – IKEA got huge amount of attention.
Since IKEA is not located too far away from our office (7km away if being precise), we were really curious to see how things are moving. Time to time you could hear people having a chat about it in the kitchen, discussing what should we buy next for our cozy office. “Should we get darker BEKANT desks for our development team?”. “No, let’s buy LINNMON table tops and build our own”. We already have quite some amount of interior from IKEA. For example, two years ago when moving offices, we were determined to have a kitchen from IKEA. This discreet style really fitted us and most of us got very used to it while working from offices of our Scandinavian clients. Durable, comfortable, neat, cheap and not showing out too much – that is what we need. We share the earnings between every person in the company and that is one of the other reasons we went for this cost efficient solution. After all, who needs a throne made of true gold for the accountant? – Ehhmm, are you sure… but let’s think twice?
Long story short, it was hard to stand aside when IKEA finally opened. Some of us were having a quick nip to the new store during lunch, some - in the evenings. We started to explore it.
Love from the first parking
The first thing that we noticed when approaching IKEA was its car parking. We are not trying to say it was fully packed (It was, by the way, every extra space was taken), we wanted to outline road markings. Is it even legal to make it so comfortable to use? Parking is made using multiple lines, with additional space between them. Looks like it is done for customers, to make sure anyone can park easily, without any risk of crashing into nearby car. It is a very good strategy - you are parking your vehicle and already thinking: “hmm, that’s nice. Looks like they DO care about me”.
Then, the place is full of smile, staff looks very happy. Obviously, people were tired, it was a grand opening after all. But even cashiers spread love and smiles at the end of the day. It was hard to believe - the quality of customer service is so different from other popular superstores. Looks like this IKEA atmosphere is a game changer. Employees are generally friendly: not just to clubcard holders, but to every client despite how crowded the place is.
One more thing that amazed us was the way IKEA treats their staff. They didn’t start their very first day with a stand up meeting. Instead, management organised a team breakfast. It is very unusual for Latvia, especially for services industry. With no doubt, it is quite easy to build respect for such companies after seeing them going an extra mile for their staff.
Watching team applauding to their first customers was breath-taking, like an icing on the cake. Great job, IKEA!
And so what?
We always experiment on new ways of working to make life better and easier at our own office. We don’t hesitate to try out new things. After watching IKEA succeed at their opening, we decided to get familiar with their corporate culture. And you know what? – WE ARE VERY ALIKE! Just look:
- We are constantly looking for new and better ways forward inspired by everyday life, work and our business. Finding solutions to almost impossible challenges is part of our success.
- We are not like other companies and we don’t want to be. We like to question existing solutions, think in unconventional ways, experiment and dare to make mistakes.
- We are proud of giving and taking responsibility. Trusting each other, being positive and forward-looking inspire everyone to contribute to development.
- We see leadership as an action, not a position. It is about being our best self and leading by example.
- We are strong when we trust each other, pull in the same direction and have fun together.
- We take an easy-going, straightforward approach in problem solving. We like to stay pragmatic and avoid any excess bureaucracy. We enjoy dealing with people and facing challenges.
- We want to be a force for positive change by making a significant and lasting impact today and for the generations to come.
We were stunned and bit afraid at times when looking at how much we are alike. Looks very interesting when small consulting IT company has similar philosophy to giant furniture company. Just after that you start to understand – well, we are on the right path.
It feels good to be alike
IKEA is a big and successful company with count of employees coming up to a six figure number. Their success and happiness is the direction you have to follow. For both aspects of life – professional and personal. It cannot be wrong – like it cannot be wrong to serve Swedish meatballs with cranberry sauce, or grey peas with bacon.
We also hope that other employers in our small country could understand that this is a road to the dream. It is not the whole world, but at least small part of it can become a better place to live in.