It has been studied that the productivity of work is better when working at home than at the office, even though it might be easy to think the opposite. One could imagine that the temptations at home would disturb working but this is actually not the case. When it comes to remote work, one can even talk about an amazing boost in productivity. With remote workers, the amount of absences decreases. They are not late for work, they take fewer sick days and they have shorter breaks. In addition, they feel it is easier to concentrate on the work in the environment of their own choice.
The COVID-pandemic has shifted the attitudes towards remote work, in both employees and company side. Remote work was steadily growing even before these conditions, the upward trend in remote work has been observed for over a decade – and the pandemic has accelerated the development.
We at Smilee have created procedures from the perspective of remote work and also embraced its possibilities. With the help of different technologies, a salesperson or a team leader doesn’t have to be present at the office. In order to find out what remote work is all about from Smilee’s point of view, we asked Ilari Itämies and Jenni Raaska about their experiences. Jenni is the head of the online customer service team and Ilari is responsible for scheduling customer appointments. He also works in B2B-sales, searches for new potential customers, and takes care of economic-related tasks.
Modern technology enables
Ilari and Jenni moved to Munich, Germany, in the fall 2018 when Ilari left there as an exchange student. In the beginning there were some doubts about the functionality of remote work, but Smilee’s CEO Teuvo Karppinen saw this as an opportunity for everyone. “Above all, we could prove to ourselves that even such important roles as leading online team or selling, can be done in the same way both in Germany and in Finland. Modern technology and flexible procedures that have previously been agreed upon allow working basically anywhere”, Ilari summarizes.
Also the role of the employer is emphasised as an enabler of remote work. It’s important to ensure that the equipment is sufficient enough and that the whole staff knows about the arrangement. It’s also essential to make sure that the communication works from both the perspective of organizational culture and technology, Ilari and Jenni underline.
Active communication is emphasized
In practice, neither the content nor the practicalities of work change that much in Munich. Instead of meeting people face to face, meetings were held online by using different technologies. In addition Ilari and Jenni would call their colleagues more often instead of sending them messages via email or Slack.
Ilari points out that the communication even increased because he would contact his superior more than before. Intense communication was the key to keeping up with the company’s affairs. Remote work taught Ilari and Jenni more effective communication where proactivity and responsibility were emphasized.
Freedom is the best
According to Jenni and Ilari, the best thing about remote work is freedom and the time saved in commuting. At best, meetings could be held on a train in the middle of beautiful Alpine landscapes. Online remote work is possible wherever there is an existing internet connection.
Sometimes the reverse side of freedom was the thin line between free time and work. Because there wasn’t as much social life as in Finland, the days could stretch long into the evening. However, both Ilari and Jenni think this could be solved by setting boundaries, scheduling and making reasonable daily plans.
Ilari could see himself working remotely “fifty-fifty”. He adds that when working remotely it’s good to change the working environment every now and then because it brings a positive boost to work. Jenni advises that also different co-working spaces offer good opportunities for remote work. All in all, Ilari and Jenni could recommend remote work to anyone, whose work isn’t tied to any particular place. This is how unforgettable their time in Munich was.