The Culture Club
Newsweek|October 29, 2021
CAN OUR NUMBER ONE COMPANY MAINTAIN ITS EMPLOYEE-FRIENDLY WORKPLACE THROUGH THE PANDEMIC AND A GROWTH BOOM? WE THINK SO
Peter Carbonara

HOW DO YOU MAKE IT TO THE TOP OF our list of Most Loved Workplaces? It's simple, but not easy: Build a company culture that actually puts people first. In the case of this year's winner, international music streaming behemoth Spotify, one key to doing that is starting with Swedish parts.

The company has offices all over the world and the largest is in New York City, but its headquarters and roots are in Stockholm. As it has grown, Spotify has kept big characteristically Swedish things like a relatively flat management structure, a “no prima donnas” employee policy, a corporate culture that emphasizes teamwork and openness as well as perks—some of which, though required by law in Sweden, are almost unheard of elsewhere. Like, for instance, six months of paid leave for all new parents, including men.

There's more. Much more.

This February the company adopted a "work from anywhere” policy under which employees are encouraged to live wherever they choose and connect digitally. This November, Spotify is giving all its employees the first week of the month off to recharge somewhat from the stresses of the pandemic, with all work emails, Zoom meetings, phone calls—actively discouraged. (Spotify will still be available to listeners, of course, and employees who need to work to keep the network running will get the following week off.).

Then there are little things, like "fika.” Although the word corresponds roughly to “coffee break” in American English, in Sweden fika is part of the national character, a daily reminder of commitment to work/life balance. Adam Winer, an American Spotify senior director for content strategy, analytics and insights says, in Sweden, “you hear "oh, it's fika time. Let's get out the cinnamon rolls and the coffee and whatever." Winer says he now uses fika as a hiring tool, having a promising candidate hang informally with four or five Spotifiers over coffee as part of the interview process.

He confesses to having been a little skeptical at first about what he heard about collaboration and access to senior executives up to, and including, the founders. “It's not like Amazon where managers are expected to fire their bottom 10 percent...the level of transparency blew me away,” he says. “You hear about it but then you're surprised to see it.”

Winer adds: “With a lot of perks at other tech companies there's this sense that they're treating you nicely so you'll work hard, to keep you in the office. Here it's because they genuinely care about you as a human being: 'We're Swedish! We believe these things! Our culture is we all go to the beach for a month in the summer and shut everything down because Sweden is dark and terrible for nine months out of the year so we must all enjoy it and that's well-being and that's important to us.'

Founded in 2006 in Stockholm by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, Spotify reshuffled the music business, replacing sharing operations like Napster with legal licensing and eventually making mobile phones the device most people use to find and listen to music. Some big stars like Taylor Swift compiled—and many still do about the royalty rates Spotify offers. But after pulling her music off the service, Swift and the company eventually came to terms.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM NEWSWEEKView All

Bans Off Our Bodies

MoveOn and Abortion Access activists rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on May 3 after the leak of a draft opinion overturning the Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

1 min read
Newsweek
May 20 - 27, 2022 (Double Issue)

Slower Ways to See the World

Travel should be an act of discovery, not a checklist to complete. Slow travel is an invitation to explore things at a pace that allows you to absorb your surroundings as you move through them-on terms that are meaningful for both you and the people and places you encounter. It may seem counterintuitive that by doing less, you will see more, but that's exactly the idea we propose in our book, Kinfolk Travel (Artisan). Following are a sampling of the destinations from the book, meant to inspire thoughtful travel and spark deeper ways of thinking about new journeys and destinations.

4 mins read
Newsweek
May 06, 2022

Faith and Murder

Under the Banner of Heaven explores both a brutal crime and the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

4 mins read
Newsweek
May 20 - 27, 2022 (Double Issue)

Crypto In Your 401(k)?

Just because you may soon be able to buy Bitcoin in your workplace retirement plan doesn’t mean you should.

6 mins read
Newsweek
May 20 - 27, 2022 (Double Issue)

CITY OF WATER

As climate change triggers sea-level rise and extreme weather, even New York, one of the world's best-prepared cities, may not be doing enough

10+ mins read
Newsweek
May 20 - 27, 2022 (Double Issue)

Emmy Rossum

PARTING SHOT

2 mins read
Newsweek
May 20 - 27, 2022 (Double Issue)

Summer Music Festivals to Get Your Groove On

What seemed a relic of the past amidst COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing precautions are now back in full force. This summer promises a music festival resurgence, with events taking place all over the world. Across festivals, lineups are both highlighting international talent and championing local artists. From Afro Nation on the pristine Portuguese seaside to Glastonbury in rural England to Fuji Rock in a Japanese forest, live music lovers of every genre have a lot to anticipate. Let the music play!

3 mins read
Newsweek
May 20 - 27, 2022 (Double Issue)

‘Division of the World Is Inevitable'

Countries need to choose whether to align with autocrats or democracies, says a former NATO Secretary-General

10 mins read
Newsweek
May 20 - 27, 2022 (Double Issue)

Blue -or Bluer

In Pennsylvania and Texas, democratic voters face clear ideological choices that could signal the party's direction

5 mins read
Newsweek
May 06, 2022

Betrayers in Blue

HBO's We Own This City tells the true story of the crooked cops who preyed on Baltimore for years

5 mins read
Newsweek
May 06, 2022
RELATED STORIES

Elements of Style

Renowned interior designer Kelly Wearstler finds inspiration in nature.

3 mins read
ELLE
April 2022

How to move your library and playlists from Spotify to Apple Music

If you're making the switch, these services can help you keep your playlists and library.

3 mins read
Macworld
April 2022

MEGHAN'S 1ST SPOTIFY PODCAST TO FOCUS ON FEMALE STEREOTYPES

The first podcast from Prince Harry and Meghan’s partnership with Spotify will focus on harmful labels and stereotypes applied to women.

1 min read
Techlife News
March 26, 2022

The Flower Kings

ROINE STOLT LEADS THE VENERABLE SWEDISH PROG-ROCKERS INTO THE FUTURE BY MINING THEIR PAST

2 mins read
Guitar World
May 2022

BARCELONA STADIUM BECOMES SPOTIFY CAMP NOU UNDER SPONSORSHIP

Barcelona is teaming up with Spotify — and changing its stadium name — to ease some of the financial struggles that hindered the Spanish club recently.

2 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #542

Sonos Beam Gen 2 Soundbar - Beam Me Up

BOTH THE original Sonos Beam and the company's new Beam Gen 2 soundbar use beamforming, a technology that combines an array of drivers with advanced signal processing, to create an enveloping audio experience without need for multiple speakers. With the Beam Gen 2 ($449), Sonos builds upon the virtual surround sound capabilities of the original by adding Dolby Atmos processing and side-firing drivers, a combination that ups the sense of immersion it can create. And the cost for this upgrade: a mere $50 premium over the original Beam soundbar's $399 price.

10 mins read
Sound & Vision
February - March 2022

What Will Neil Young's Protest Mean for Spotify?

Neil Young vs Joe Rogan seems like the strangest of cultural clashes.

5 mins read
AppleMagazine
February 04, 2022

MUSIC: CLIMBING THE CHARTS TO BECOME NUMBER ONE

Though Apple Music may still be playing catchup to Spotify in terms of users, new data from the Mechanical Licensing Collective has revealed Apple is the industry leader when it comes to royalties, demonstrating the company’s commitment to paying talent. As Apple continues to expand its services, the future looks bright, with new Music innovations coming their way.

6 mins read
Techlife News
25, December 2021

Per BERNAL

Legendary Physique Photographer

8 mins read
Muscular Development
January 2022

“What if?”

"Being an artist means for me bringing one's artistic vision into everyday life. It means harnessing the moments of inspiration and creativity but also trying to embrace all aspects of the process when it means adversity and hard work. With my art, I would like the viewer to be carried away into another world and encouraged to create and shape his or her individual story. I hope my art provides a moment of respite for the viewer and perhaps inspires the thought, "What if?".

2 mins read
Lens Magazine
October 2021