Can you describe Spotify’s corporate culture philosophy and your work with it?

We consider corporate culture to be at least as important as corporate strategy. The right culture brings effective collaboration and lets us move forward faster. The culture comes through even in our brand and the way we serve our customers. In other words, our culture defines how successful we are. So it’s about having the right culture and not just a strong corporate culture.

We formulate and shape our culture through employee involvement. This autumn we are embarking on a Passion Tour, where we will visit all our offices and conduct a dialogue about our vision, mission and values.

Our culture and values build the cornerstones upon which we take care of our talent pool in order to attract, acquire, develop, grow and retain the right people, as well as to develop relevant compensation and benefit structures.

What measures do you take to ensure that your corporate culture is kept alive during such rapid global expansion?
It takes constant, on-going work: hit, re-hit, reminders both internally and externally, it is something we will never be finished with. We do not differentiate between our brand and employer brand. It is very important that our communication, both our customer promise and employee promise, is authentic and genuine. Our 'Intro Days' are filled with cultural induction. Flying all new band members to Stockholm is a huge investment. But it is worth every cent because it gives everyone a good start and an understanding of who we are, why we’re here and for whom. Among others, we have two full-time culture ambassadors who work variously in reinforcing the social part of our culture and they have created a network of ambassadors in all our markets.

How do you work to promote diversity?
When it comes to nationalities and ethnic backgrounds, we look like a real-life Benetton advert. In other words, it is a non-issue since it occurs naturally with us being in so many markets and we are on a quest for talent in a digital world.

Concerning some of the other parameters regarding diversity, we have started looking a little closer at these. We have a group of representatives from various countries and teams who choose a couple of focus areas, based on employee input and strategic challenges. From that we select concrete activities that can help make Spotify an even more welcoming environment to work in. For example, we have a number of collaborations with organisations aiming to raise the number of women in technology and IT development. These include PyLadies and Code Center. We also co-sponsor 'Female Economist of the Year' at the Stockholm School of Economics and co-run WIT (Women in Tech).

How do you work with the Spotify brand to attract talent, i.e. employer branding?
We have the advantage of working with a very attractive brand, but that makes it even more crucial that we live up to employees’ expectations. Our employees are our most important and most credible ambassadors as well as assets. Therefore, we encourage them to tell people what it is really like to work at Spotify through social media and at various conferences. We maintain a humble attitude to the fact that we have terrific momentum. Very many people send us applications, both in response to advertised vacancies and without solicitation. This can change, so employer branding is a highly strategic issue because talent scarcity in the global IT field is a reality.

What sort of leader has proven successful in your company?
At Spotify, a leader must be open to ideas from the team and create the conditions for them to solve their own problems. Instead of telling everyone the answers, leaders ought to describe why/purpose, in other words outline the direction and thereafter give the team some space to solve the problem themselves. The challenge and also the balance our managers have to attain is to communicate clear expectations, but resist presenting solutions, while still providing frequent feedback and being open to feedback themselves. In our organisation, it is usual to check frequently with each other and conduct retrospectives, something everyone appreciates.

How do you work with top performers, develop and retain them?
The manager has a huge responsibility here. It’s about continually creating new challenges and opening new doors. It’s always a pity as a manager when you lose a top performer from your team, but it’s better if that individual stays at Spotify rather than moves to another company. That’s why we need to view internal movement as something positive. To enable a learning organisation and challenge and develop talent is super important to us, so both people and the company are constantly growing.

Describe the concept behind the office design and its influence on business development and creativity?
We invest greatly in our offices because we know it influences the working environment and results in general. Several things we actively did were to create effective group areas for our development teams, what we call 'squad rooms'.

For example, they can sit and easily see each other’s screens. They can have morning meetings, personal meetings, and access to café space and Trello boards for their stand-ups/check-ins. We also have a large, common 'kitchen' instead of several small ones, giving all employees the opportunity to have spontaneous meetings. Also there are many possibilities to divert one’s mind and reload, for example table tennis, a games room, music studio and a terrace where people can mix. Our larger offices even have a stage for large or small music acts to perform and make office sessions for us. As things grow quickly, it is important to encourage spontaneous meetings so people feel connected to the whole and not like an island in a vast sea. It benefits both business and creativity.

About Spotify

Spotify is an award-winning digital music service providing on-demand access to more than 20 million tracks. Spotify was launched in Sweden in 2008 by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, out of a desire to develop a better, more convenient and legal alternative to music piracy. Since then, Spotify has become the world’s largest and fastest growing music service of its kind with more than 40 million active users and more than 10 million paying subscribers in 57 countries around the world. Spotify enables customers to discover, manage and share music with friends, while making sure that artists get a fair deal. Today Spotify has 1,400 employees in more than 27 locations around the world. It is headquartered in Stockholm, with commercial hubs in New York and London.

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