You chose to set up business in Malta. But which city?

You chose to set up business in Malta. But which city? One of the main considerations of locality is the office space available. Some of the gaming companies require serviced office space. At the time when I-gaming companies started operating in Malt, the only serviced office buildings available were found in the St. Julian’s and Sliema area.

The financial services basically require the same type of infrastructure as the gaming companies. As they were present in the St. Julian’s – Sliema are, the infrastructure was available there.

People are not hired because of their nationality but due to the skills and experience that they bring in. People coming to work in Malta, are not looking to spend their whole life here, but intend to spend five, ten years and then go back to their home country. Even the locals, do not look at a job in gaming, as a career for life. This aspect may change, as the gaming companies become more established and offer more stability to their employees. The tendency is that employees stay only for a year or two with the same company, as the amount of experience gained, opens a multitude of opportunities for them.

Most of the foreigners, who are employed in management and in the companies as a whole, tend to reside in the St. Julian’s – Sliema area. Thus they would like to commute as little as possible. Expatriates tend to live in this area and socialise in this area. The average age of employees with gaming companies is less than thirty. Most of these people thrive on the nightlife that is found all year round in Paceville. If the offices were too far away from the resources, it is feared, that the resources would not be willing to be employed by that company. This tendency seems to be decreasing and companies are moving away from this one particular area.

Parking and commuting are relevant issues. Most of the expatriates do now own their own mode of transportation. Thus it is important for the workplace to be in an area which is easily accessible by public transport. On the other hand, most of the Maltese employees have their own transportation. Parking is a big issue in most areas of Malta, but especially in the St. Julian’s – Sliema area. Thus office buildings which have their own parking areas are considered as a bonus, and may offset the extra cost of rental. Although the actual distances are short, the state of the roads and traffic do not make for an attractive solution.

Some companies have admitted that they were personal influences with regards to the choice of location. These were basically in relation to the distance between the office and the place of residence of the decision makers.

The concentration of gaming companies has shifted slightly from the St. Julian’s – Sliema are to Ta’ Xbiex. There is one particular street, which is filled almost entirely with gaming companies. Some companies have moved to other localities like Birkirkara and Mosta. But the focus remains on the north. The south of Malta has not attracted any of the gaming companies and nor has Gozo.  When asked, most of the participants said that they would  not consider Smart City as a viable option, but a number of them would consider Gozo, but were afraid that there would be a human resource bottle neck. It has been argued that as the management becomes more familiar with the island, and becomes aware of different alternatives for office space at more attractive rates, they are willing to relocate to other locations.

As expatriates are spending longer on the island, they are becoming familiar with the other locations of the island. After a few years, the trend has started to emerge that the employees are moving out of the St. Julian’s – Sliema area and moving to other locations. This may be a result of employees finding better rental deals, for larger residential place, or because as they age, they get tired of the constant night-life and thus go there to socialise only when they feel like it, rather than constantly.

The main issue is that the human resources are happy and thus willing to remain with the company, or making it easier to attract new human resources. As the industry matures, more and more employees are likely to remain in the industry. The average age will start to increase. As people become older, their perception of life changes and so do their needs and wants. This will result in shifts in employee places of residency and thus will probably shift the outlook that gaming companies have on location and incur them to consider other locations, which they had not considered previously.

Source: M. Azzopardi: A Study of Locality Choices by ICT and I-Gaming Companies in Malta, 2012.

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