Lunio’s co-founder reveals how they’ve built a happy and collaborative culture

Manchester-based scale up looks set to achieve unicorn status, but there’s another unicorn business goal they’ve already mastered - employees happily coming into their office, even on work-from-home days!

The move from their office in Chorley to their new Manchester City Centre office has seen an uplift in attendance by 162%! You can read more about it here.

When I first started working with Lunio’s Co-Founder, Segev Hochberg, it was abundantly clear that they’re destined for big things. Not just because of the tech they’re building, but the emotional intelligence they show in how they treat their people.

I first caught up with Segev just prior to the office move, to grill him a little on how he’s achieved such a collaborative workspace and thriving culture.

And now that they’ve moved to the city centre, he filled me in on how it’s gone.

🗝️ Key Takeaways:

Getting people to come into the office really comes down to intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation Intrinsic motivation comes down to two things:

  1. People understand their responsibilities, which means they know when it’s best to collaborate in person, and
  2. Build a great culture and they will come in.
  3. One of Lunio’s values in ‘Communicate Clearly’. They set the expectations of in-office attendance from the very first interview.
  4. It’s critical to build a diverse culture, where everyone can be their authentic selves.
  5. Understanding of personality types. Not everyone will want to come into the office and that’s okay, implementing tools to accommodate a hybrid setup allows for collaboration to be done with ease.
  6. Give your employees a reason other than work to come to the office e.g. tie in in-office days with social get-togethers.
  7. It doesn’t cost much to put on team bonding events but the “impact on the team is incredible”.

So, what’s the secret behind why your employees are coming into the office, even on their Work-From-Home (WFH) days?

It really comes down to intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation.

And what I mean by that is when you force people to come into the office 3, 4 or 5 days a week, to them, it’s like a task or a chore.

But you can position it in a way that says,

💬 ‘The office is there, and the expectation is that you will be utilising the office, as and when you require for collaboration. And also for fun reasons such as connecting with colleagues socially' 💬

Then if you build the right culture, people will come to the office on their own. We’ve seen it ourselves.

Our team are contracted to work two days a week in the office, but we saw that they were coming into the office three and four times a week, even when we were based in Chorley, before our move to Manchester.

The only exception to that is Monday, people largely work from home - which makes sense. But Tuesday onwards, the office is bustling every day of the week.

Let’s be honest, people don’t think, “Oh, I’ll wake up in the morning and commute to the office. I’ll do all of that just because I like the chairs or the coffee in the office.” People want to be in the office because of the environment and culture that’s been created.

So what are the intrinsic reasons that your employees come into the office?

We’ve found it’s because of two reasons:

One, they understand the responsibility that’s part of their position. They understand and say:

💬 'I have this project, I’ll set up a workshop / meeting in the office so we can collaborate in person because it’ll be more efficient’. 💬

And the other wider thinking, and it’s a challenge, but you need to build a culture that encourages people to come to the office.

So how have you built that culture that encourages people to come into the office?

You do that by building an inclusive culture that encourages people to form great relationships, have a laugh and do what they need to do to be themselves. What’s the point in having a graveyard of desks where people are just working and no one is allowed to laugh or speak?

We’ve structured the office working days so that all teams are in on a Thursday which gives people the opportunity to socialise after work outside of their immediate teams and form stronger bonds.

Even more than that, we have seen true friendships being formed throughout our teams; people going on hikes together, attending concerts and festivals, even living together as a result of the culture that’s been created at Lunio. 👥

How do you ensure your socials are inclusive, such as people with family commitments or who don’t drink?

We’ve got a very diverse workforce made up of people from different cultures and backgrounds so we take everything into consideration when planning social events to make sure there’s something for everyone.

Obviously, everyone has commitments outside of work and so, so our employees are able to adjust their schedules to fit around their out-of-work commitments - as long as they’re present for our core hours. So, if a team wanted to have a social after work, it can fit around everyone’s schedule without needing to compromise.

Our socials aren’t just drinks 👉 it can include any activity from mini-golf to a day at a theme park.

You’ve mentioned your diverse workforce. How have you achieved this?

We could spend a whole hour discussing this alone! But as a Jewish founder who came to the UK from Israel, I guess that speaks for itself. We knew we wanted to form a business that supported the growth of a diverse team.

We’re working hard to ensure every aspect of life at Lunio is fair and equitable for everyone, proactively pushing for Diversity Equity and Inclusion across the entire business. There’s a lot that goes in to that but it includes things like inclusive language across job ads, fewer ‘requirements’ in job ads, a DEI Champions team and signing the All In Promise.

No business is perfect and we’re still working on being 100% there. It’s a constant challenge, especially in tech, but we’re making great progress! 🙌

Having a diverse and inclusive office doesn’t stop at our team and ourpolicies. It also means creating a space where everyone feels comfortable to be their authentic selves with spaces that help encourage this - such as quiet zones, phone booths, dimmed lighting and even pet-friendly areas!

What collaborative work takes place in the office?

Activities like kick-off meetings for projects or drafting the journey for the project or scope. Management reviews and policy reviews with direct reports also happen in the office.

That’s something [management and policy reviews] that we always do in person. Conducting something like this in person allows for more open, transparent conversations than if it was to be done remotely.

And it’s the same with team meetings. The entire team will come together and do it in person, it’s much more powerful to collaborate this way than doing it remotely. 💪🏻

How do you set out the expectations for the days in the office? How do those conversations happen?

Firstly, one of our values is ✨ ‘Communicate Clearly’ . So from the very first interview, we communicate that the requirement of the job is to be in the office twice a week.

The idea is that the days that you are coming into the office will align with another department so, all departments come in on a Thursday to ensure that there is cross-collaboration with an additional day in the week for direct-team collaboration.

I know many startups and scaleups struggle with getting engineers in the office. Do you?

Due to the nature of an engineer’s job, we offer a fully remote contract. However, since moving to our Manchester office, we’ve seen a great uplift in in-office attendance from our engineering team.

The creation of quiet-working spaces and collaboration zones in the office allows for the engineers to do heads-down work when needed and collaborate in-person during sprint sessions. 🤫

As mentioned previously, diversity is something we’re passionate about at Lunio so, being able to identify and understand people’s preferred approaches to work means that we understand Engineers usually prefer to work in a quieter environment and so, they’re primarily remote with the knowledge they can use the office space at a time it suits them and their projects.

How have you ensured that people can work from home effectively?

Let’s say, one of our employees works from the office twice a week, but for the other two days, they work from home. That means 50% of their time is spent at home, so it’s important that they still have a functional working environment at home.

We have a Home Office Budget available for everyone, so you can buy your desk, chair, plants, LED lights… whatever you need to be able to work efficiently and comfortably, you can purchase through your budget. 💰

And the beauty here is that you can utilise it wherever you wish. We don’t limit and say, ‘you have to buy a desk, or you have to have a chair.’ Some people prioritise different equipment or comfort to ensure that their home working space works for them.

Why do you think you’ve adapted so well to hybrid working?

We started this company as a remote company seven years ago when remote wasn’t a mainstream concept before COVID, especially in the UK. I was in Israel and Neil and Alex (the other Co-Founders) were in the UK so, we had to work on a remote or hybrid basis.

Neil and Alex would usually collaborate with me in the morning remotely and then they would work with team members in the office in the afternoon. Even back then, when we were a much smaller team of five people, we never advised people to come to the office every day.

What made you take the hybrid approach from day one?

Our thinking behind it is that when you evaluate your week in full, there are some tasks that you just need to go and sit at a computer, be able to concentrate and get the work done, so they can be done from home.

And then there are some tasks where you need to work with other people and collaborate and that is best to be done in person. This is why we found the hybrid approach works best for us.

You mentioned that you’ve got different personalities in your office space. How have you ensure that your office deals with that?

So, this is the office. 👇🏻

[Office floor plan]

We have a quiet working room for those who are looking to work independently without distraction as well as a dimly-lit library behind concealed doors that are a part of the kitchen cabinetry that allow for people to escape the typical hustle and bustle of an office. The great thing with these spaces is that, for anyone who experiences overstimulation from light and sound, these rooms offer a peaceful, toned-down environment.

The main co-working space in the office has plenty of desks, allowing multiple departments to sit amongst each other, offering collaboration - great for people who love to be sociable throughout the work day.

We also have our breakout area which is another great social space used by the team to work, have quick catch ups on projects or come together during breaks to socialise.

Our sales team, naturally very chatty, have their own space in the office which allows them to feel comfortable to hold calls, catch up with colleagues and collaborate without feeling isolated from the rest of the business.

I know you’ve put your employees at the heart of your new workspace. So, how did you include them in the process?

Everything you see in the plan was a result of feedback from the team. We surveyed the entire team when we started - before we did the designs.

We asked questions like:

💬 “What’s one thing you would expect to see in the office?” 💬

💬 “What’s one crazy idea you would want to have in the office?” 💬

Some people wanted to have a pool table and some people wanted to have an 8ft stuffed version of our brand mascot, Red.

There were some crazy ideas that we liked and actually implemented a couple of them.

Which crazy ideas did you implement?!

One of them was the hidden library - to have a secret hideaway to go and work, access resources and offer a zen-like space.

This then also helps get the team’s buy-in because when they request something that they see has been implemented, they’re excited to come to the office and make use of it. 🤩

There’s also all the amenities close by. The building has a gym, shower facilities, bike and car parking as well as a coffee shop on the ground floor.

Did you survey your employees about the building amenities too? Or did you instinctively know what they would like?

Our previous office was in Chorley, there were no amenities around it. No restaurants, the public transport links weren’t great - you had to take a taxi from the train station to be able to get to the office. I knew that by having an office in Manchester City Centre, anything that we get would be a significant improvement.

The fact that we have a gym and coffee shop in the same building is already a huge improvement to what we had. Not only that, given the location, the food options for lunch are endless!

We mainly focussed on what they expect to see in the office, knowing that the location will be convenient enough for them to get anything they want on their doorstep. 🚶

Are you employees excited now and talking about the new move?

Absolutely! I’m updating the team each week with progress of the renovations which is creating a lot of excitement.

It’s also about communicating what the future looks like for this space with the team, being able to hold yoga sessions or have external companies come in to do coffee mornings or cater for social events in the space.

As a company, it’s not a significant expense. It’s around £200 a day or so but the impact on the team is incredible.

We’re in the final stages of this office expansion. The office is expected to be ready at the end of April. So it’s quite busy here and we’re growing. Everyone’s really excited to move to the new office.


Lunio moved into the office at the end of April, so we caught up with [Segev] again in July. Here’s what he had to say about the new space!

Our time here so far has been incredible, you can definitely see an uplift in attendance and in-person collaboration thanks to the different parts of the office that help to facilitate this.

We’ve had some fantastic feedback from our team, especially around the varying working environments that suit so many different types of working. One of the favourite spots has been on the bleacher seating area which has great views into the city, towards Deansgate.

Since opening the office, we’ve held numerous events, both internal and external, to celebrate our move to the city and connect with local businesses which has proven to be really successful from a networking and opportunity point of view.

We’ve had incredible feedback from customers and local connections that have been to visit the office so much so, they’ve reached out to us to use our space for their events.

We’ve only been here four months so far, but being where we are in the city and the incredible office space we have, it’s definitely helped to put us on the map!

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