During a recent field trip whirlwind startup visiting tour in Berlin, one of the offices I dropped by was those of social gaming juggernaut Wooga.

Founded in 2009 by CEO Jens Begemann and CTO Philipp Moeser, Wooga has seen remarkable growth over the past few years.

It’s one of those European gaming companies that have managed to grow like gangbusters even when competing against publicly listed powerhouses such as EA and Zynga.

The German company’s games – which include hits like Diamond Dash, Bubble Island and Monster World – are being played by over 50 million users on Web and mobile every month. This has made Wooga one of the most successful developers on the Facebook platform (it’s currently ranked fifth, ahead of the likes of Yahoo, Spotify, TripAdvisor and Yelp).

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What I thought was amazing about Wooga when I visited the company’s offices in Berlin (which, by the way, are stunning as you can probably tell from the photos embedded in this article), is just how international its workforce is – and how Wooga has managed to get this talent from all over the world interested in joining (and sticking with) them.

From what I gather, Wooga isn’t keen on opening offices elsewhere. That’s not to say they never will, but the focus of the company right now seems to be on getting the best people to come live and work for Wooga in Berlin instead of launching remote offices.

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Wooga currently employs 280 people (and counting) with 40 nationalities, including folks from far-flung places like Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Brazil, China, Pakistan, India, Argentina and even Scotland.

To give all those employees enough room to work comfortably, Wooga just expanded its offices in the same building with a third, 1,200 square metre floor, increasing the total size of its office space to approximately 3,500 square metres.

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Bringing people on board

The cool thing is that Wooga is so serious about keeping its operations centralized in its Berlin office, that they’re attracting international talent by making the moving and settling in part for people from abroad as smooth as possible.

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For one, Wooga is renting 20 flats in Berlin on a permanent basis. New hires from other nations are welcome to stay in one of them for 6 weeks to 3 months to adjust to life in their new home country, and the company also helps out with getting all the necessary administration in order (which, in Germany, can be quite a tedious task).

Aside from the accommodation assistance, Wooga’s HR staff includes an ‘on-boarding team’ who basically help out with things like filling out forms, finding a good plumber of electrician, cultural adjustments and anything else that can prove tricky for a non-German speaker.

They also get free candy and chocolate!

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Gitta Blatt, Wooga’s head of HR, explains the reasoning behind all this:

“Our aim is always to hire the best people for the job and for Wooga, wherever they might in the world. We have a lot of recruiters, but 40% of our new hires actually come from employee referrals.

Our employees are our best recruiters because they know smart people who would not only do a great job, but also fit into the culture we’ve built here. That right fit is a huge priority for us, so once they’ve passed the hiring process our on-boarding team is there to help with any difficulties international employees might have getting settled in.”

Some other remarkable things about Wooga’s HR policy:

- Every new employee receives an education budget which they can use for a German tutor or ‘professional development’
- Sports groups are organized and paid for
- Wooga organizes its own events, e.g. a monthly ‘mystery lunch’ where employees are put into random groups and have lunch paid for them

It just goes to show that European technology companies are also thinking about ways to bring some innovation to the HR processes – it doesn’t always have to be about Google or Netflix.

All images above and below are awesome and courtesy of the fine photographers over at Heisenberg Media.

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