DOU – top Ukrainian IT resource. They visited our company and wrote an independent review of the office and day-to-day life inside the company. We translated their article, so everybody could see our daily life.
The company was founded in 2015, registered in the UK and has its only development office in Lviv. The team has 45 people, 30 of who are software and quality assurance engineers. Most of the specialists are Senior and Middle level.
The neighbourhood and inside
For two years, the Elitex office has been located at Horodotska street #2, opposite the Lviv Opera House.
The office is located in the historic city center, so the team can choose where to go out for lunch from a comprehensive list of nearby restaurants and cafes. This includes the “Ferkel” pub where an average check is up to 100 UAH or “Kogut” pub where a business lunch cost is 89 UAH. Also, there are “Puzata hata”, McDonald’s, Open, and food court in the “Forum” mall. All establishments are within a five-minute walk. However, team members often order food delivery to the office.
For those who get to work by public transport, the location is very fitting. For car owners, the company rents 4 parking spaces at the Magnus Shopping Center which is two minutes walk from the office. Also, two cars can be placed in the yard near the building. Nevertheless, there is not enough free space for all specialists. Therefore, those drivers who took a parking spot, let others know about it in a Skype chat. Those who don’t, can leave the car on the paid parking lot near the office at their own expense (100 UAH/day) or at another parking, five minutes from the office (5 UAH/hour).
There is a security guard in the building which opens an office for the first employee to come and closes after the last one leaves. To get inside on the weekends, you need to call and warn the security.
Elitex recommended working hours are from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. However, it all depends on the project and country of the customer. Teams agree on a convenient time for synchronization with the client’s side. Some specialist at the company come at 8:00, others at 12:00, there are no strict regulations.
Specialists have 12 days of remote work per year with 100% compensation. They can work remotely more, but extra days will be 80% paid. The company also provides 10 paid sick leaves per year. The number of days for the option “sick but working” is calculated separately. On the occasion of the birth of a child, wedding or death of a loved one, a specialist is given two extra leave days.
The company has a small and a large kitchen with everything you might need, from coffee makers to dishwashers. Company doesn’t sort waste at the office, but they gave up disposable tableware and bottled water. Instead, they filled lockers with branded cups and installed water filters.
The office has four big meeting rooms and a small one. According to the specialists of the company, that is just enough for 45 people. You can book a room with Google Calendar.
Each space has a ventilation control panel. There is no stuffiness in the corridors and offices, and humidifiers have been installed in workspaces and rest areas. The floor in the office is warming up, but it is sometimes cool at the beginning of the workweek.
A smoking area is on the balcony leading to the courtyard.
Elitex has shared women’s and men’s restrooms. There is also a shower in the office.
The office occupies one floor and 468 m2 of the floor space. According to the company’s information, the number of square meters per person in the workplace is about 8.67.
Workspace is in open space format. The largest room has 19 workers. Accountants, recruiters, sales and marketers have their own room.
There are installed panels under the ceiling, which absorb noise in new open space (opened in July 2019). However, there is no door between this space and the large kitchen, so it is quite noisy at lunchtime.
Each workplace includes a table, an armchair, a bedside table and the necessary equipment. There are also two standing tables for the whole office. Initially, the company planned them to be shared, so specialists who want to work standing up, would just work by them. In practice, however, the stands were not aroused by great interest and settled in specific places.
Before their first day, a specialist can choose which equipment they will use. As the standard, the company provides an iMac 27 ‘with a Retina display, also popular are MacBook Pro 13/15, Acer Swift 3 laptops, HP 250 G6. Each specialist is also provided with a monitor, usually an iMac or Dell 23.8, headphones (JBL T500BT White or Sony WH-CH500) and a mouse with a keyboard.
If a specialist wants to change equipment, he/she may replace it with any other. The company replaces the equipment on the same day if it is in stock. Often, workers require laptop stands and adapters.
On the first day in the company, a specialist receives a welcome pack, which now consists of branded T-shirts, notepads, pens, stickers, greetings cards, chocolate and a Rubik’s Cube, in which sides, besides colours, are marked with technology names.
Every month, the company allocates a Happy Budget – $ 200 for the implementation of ideas in the office space. By voting, specialists decide how to improve this time within the budget. For example, organize a master class, buy a new PlayStation game, humidifiers, juicer, barbecue, and more. The proposals are put forward by the team members themselves.
Specialists can use professional literature at the office library or order it. To do so, they send the application to the HR specialist. Specialists can also leave requests to attend courses and conferences. They are considered individually and the company can compensate the costs fully, partly or reject the application. In most cases, profile courses and conferences are compensated at 100%.
Within the mentoring program, anyone in Elitex can get a mentor and develop a PDP (personal development plan) with him. Mentor is one of the company’s specialists.
Rest and inspiration
The office has two main seating areas. The first one is in the hall near the reception and the small kitchen. There you can play kicker, board games or just relax. Also, every two weeks, the specialists gather in the hall for movie nights.
There is a horizontal bar in the hallway. It was digitized on an internal IoT hackathon: added sensors that counted the number of times a person pulled up. The hackathon lasted for several weeks: the participants gathered in teams, purchased sensors within a certain budget and everything they needed for the project, and then in their spare time, worked on the development. The hackathon ended with the presentation, determination and awarding of the winners.
The second lounge is a large kitchen. Every day at 3:50 pm specialists gather for plank exercise, and every two weeks, they organize internal Tech Talks with lectures on technical and arbitrary topics. For example, about the experience of hiking in the mountains, the rules of business communication, React Native, GraphQL and more. The kitchen also has a tennis table. Therefore, the company organized an internal tournament in the autumn. In the kitchen, the staircase also has a functional meaning: under it the seats, the carats, extra chairs, etc. are stored.
In addition, you can relax on hammocks, armchairs and sofas placed in the open space.
Every last Thursday of the month, the Elitex team meets in the kitchen for a Happy Thursday. This is a small party with drinks and treats to welcome newcomers and summarize Happy Budget. For every specialist’s birthday greetings, the whole team gathers, and the birthday celebrator receives a present, usually sweet. The company celebrates summer and winter corporate events, often going outdoors.
Specialists can practice English three times a week with a Ukrainian grammar teacher and three times a week with a native speaker from the UK. Each class is one hour long.
Elitex has a PlayStation 4 lounge and a massage chair. In the summer, a terrace is open as a recreation area. Company bring many plants to the balcony and sometimes have a barbecue.
We conducted an anonymous survey among the Elitex team, where 65% of specialists from the Lviv office responded. 63% of them were engineers. We asked if they were satisfied with the office, and asked them to rate on a five-point scale certain characteristics: location, schedule and office space.
Office placement earned an average score of 4.78, although 94% of experts rated the fives and fours. High scores were given to features such as the work schedule and the status of the peripherals – 4.84 points each. The work computer received 4.91 out of 5 points.
Although each room has a temperature controller and humidifiers, ventilation was only rated at 4.63 points. Remote work ability was rated at 4.19, while office parking showed the lowest score of 3.69 points. At the same time, 53% don’t want to change anything.
Improvement suggestions include removing noise, adding more parking spots, and increasing lighting.
Traditionally, we interviewed the specialists face-to-face and asked two simple questions: what they like most about the office and what they would like to improve or change.
I like that it’s a family company. We have a lot of space, the interior looks very cool: light colours, white walls, greenery. I know everyone here more or less closely, not just at the hi-hi level. We do not have all sorts of unnecessary things like big companies do. For example, large open spaces, indoors, gyms. However, I doubt that the tennis table in the kitchen fits in well with our atmosphere. It should be in a separate room.
The location of the office is very pleasant because you go to work not through the industrial zone, but through the city center every morning.
When recruiters write to me on LinkedIn about vacancies in the center of Lviv, I reply that we have a view from the window to the golden palm branch, and only the opera floor can be more central.
I don’t take any work home, as I have a working iMac, and I don’t see the point of working remotely.
Inna, QA Engineer, 1 year with the company
The office has a very cool, spacious and comfortable kitchen. In fact, there are a lot of different activities: everything from standing in a plank to just communicating. It is as if the space between our two open spaces is combined.
I’m not a fan of going outside the office for lunch: if the day is busy, it takes too much time. Plus, I like to eat my own home-made food, not the bought one. So mostly I cook something for myself and bring it to the office. We have a bunch of equipment to cook something in the office.
We often play “Overcook” in the game room, with the girls. I use the tennis table less often.
I am very pleased that we do not have such standard air conditioners that blow simply on a person. The air blows from the ceiling, so it is both not hot and not cold in the summer in the office. In winter, we also have heat, because the floor is warm. I’m permafrost, so I often bask in the blanket near the batteries.
Roma, Front-End developer, 1.5 years with the company
I really like the design of our office, it’s light and nice, and the massage chair is great in general! Sometimes when you need to get distracted, it is the best option to sit and relax. Table tennis and kicker are also very cool. Being at work all day is a cool option to get around a bit. Just like the Swedish wall. I wish I used it more often though.
As for the noise because of the tennis, we understand that it is okay. I often use headphones, so I can’t hear anyone.
It’s winter now, and it’s pretty dry. But it is good that we have an air humidification system and it really helps. I even considered buying the same one for my home. I have no complaints. Maybe it would be cool to add a “Broforce” game to the PlayStation, but I don’t know how often I would play it. Hopefully, this time, Happy Budget will add an audio system: a microphone and speakers to the kitchen near the projector to make the best sound for movie nights.
Andrew, Senior Manual QA, 1 year with the company
Our working computers are great. Moreover, you can choose what to work with: an iMac or a laptop on Windows. The periphery and workplace can also be customized. Nobody will order you to sit exactly where you are planted.
Good thing the office has a PlayStation. I often get to play it with my colleagues. It makes it easier to work and communication with people gets better.
The office is fitting because the location is in the heart of Lviv. Actually, from any place, you can reach it in half an hour. I’m already at work mostly at 9 am, so I am always one of the first to park the car near the office. There is a lot of traffic in Lviv, especially on Mondays and Fridays in the mornings when people return from outside the city or go to the Carpathians.
The air conditioners work in the office in the summer, so we are not hot. But now the heat is off on weekends, so it can be cool on Mondays.
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