From Home Office to Boat Office – How Rapala VMC Created a Safe and Inspiring Workspace in the Middle of a Pandemic

As Summer of 2021 started turning to Fall, Rapala VMC’s CEO & President Nicolas Cederström Warchalowski had an idea. And that idea was about to change the way we work at the group’s Helsinki branch.

Culture | 4 min read

The recent years have taught a lot of us new concepts – and one of them is the home office. To be fair, when health and safety are a stake, working from home is a small price to pay. But, for people as social and outdoorsy as us at Rapala VMC, we couldn’t help but feel a bit cooped up. And that’s what got the group’s CEO & President Nicolas Cederström Warchalowski thinking. Could there be a safe way of bringing the people together? 

The answer, it turned out, was closer than he realized. In fact, it was right there, on his daily bike route. It was one of those things you didn’t see until you saw it – and afterward, you can’t help but wonder how you hadn’t spotted it earlier. What Nicolas saw was Merikerho: a large boat-meets-restaurant-meets-techno-club, situated next to an outdoor gym and a padel court. Right there, in the middle of Helsinki. 

That’s where Nicolas had an idea – and he knew exactly what to do to make the vision come true. It was time to call Inari. 

Inari Torppa, the Office Manager at Rapala VMC’s Helsinki office, is exactly the person you want on your side when you need to make things happen. Aided by Lena Gyulai, the Executive Assistant of the branch, Inari rolled up her sleeves and started coordinating. And, soon enough, the folks at Rapala VMC’s Helsinki branch were invited to what would become a twice-a-week thing for the upcoming month – the Rapala VMC Boat Office. 

“We’re a social bunch here at Rapala VMC – and being together is one of the things that keep us going. And what could be a better way of facilitating cooperation between different sectors of the company than doing fun stuff together?” Inari notes. 

“That’s why we wanted to create a safe space for our team members – a place where we could spend time together without putting our health at risk. And the boat office was exactly that. It was an outside office that complied with all the regulations while being an inspiring environment.”

It didn’t take long for the branch to embrace the full potential of the new satellite office. Alongside working, people were hitting the outdoor gym before opening the laptop, working up an appetite on the padel court, and enjoying an after-work beverage on the boat’s bar deck. And, being the anglers we are, some of us couldn‘t resist the temptation of bringing a smaller boat to the nearby dock for some between-work fishing.

“Both the gym and the padel courts were put to good use! It was a great way shaking up the everyday routine – while getting people introduced to a bunch of new hobbies!” Inari tells.

”And the feedback we got from the Boat Office was overwhelmingly positive! Sure, working there was different, as people couldn’t bring their external monitors or docking stations. But getting a much-needed break from the home office made it all worthwhile.”

Eventually, the Finnish weather got a bit too – well, Finnish – for the Boat Office, and it was time to get back to basics. But ever since that, we’ve been bugging Inari with the same question – will there be more concepts like this in the branch’s future? For that, Inari has a clear answer: absolutely. For now, it’s still too early to tell what form the Boat Office will take in the future. But one thing is for certain: it will be anything but ordinary.