Is remote work our new normal?
We are living in truly exceptional times, which we will probably remember in years to come when we are in our rocking chair or sitting at the coffee table in the nursing home.
Many things that are very important to us that happen outside of working hours and places have been closed or canceled. There will be no Ilosaarirock festival in Joensuu this summer and no Opera Festival in Savonlinna. Many other places of interest and restaurants are completely closed.
In addition, for many of us, meeting our close elderly relatives is not desirable or sensible, at least for now. I recently went to meet my mother-in-law at a nursing home. It was a very different visit to the usual ones. We had to talk to her through an open door on the ground floor balcony making sure we kept about five feet behind a fence. It was quite awkward for a patient with memory issues to think about these coronavirus things or to understand why we couldn’t come in for coffee or visit the room, no matter how much she asked. The most important thing, however, is that our loved ones are not forgotten and we continue to help them by any means necessary and actively keep in touch with them, one way or another.
The Fastroi team meet up for virtual coffee and remote customer meetings
Currently, Fastroi’s coffee machines are not working under normal daily load as our employees have moved almost entirely to remote work. Only a few people work in our offices daily or a few days a week. Coffee breaks have become virtual and our teams communicate with each other on a daily basis, either through video conference tools or other means of communication.
We have also strived to act in accordance with our values in these challenging times, ie “We care”. So far, we have not had any staff layoffs. Instead, we have tried to work flexibly with our staff. Several employees have done tasks that they do not normally do during their own work. With these arrangements, we have also managed to continue our communal ‘get togethers’ comfortably. The work of a growing company usually doesn’t stop or decline, so regular chats are so important. In addition, our financial situation has made this possible, at least for the time being and I hope that will be the case in the future.
It’s also nice to see that our customers are gradually starting to adjust to this new “normal” after a quiet few weeks. Over the past month, we have once again begun to receive inquiries about our products from new potential customers and from existing customers looking for additional services and training related to our products. We can arrange customer meetings, implementation and product training securely and remotely.
Permanently at remote work?
For Fastroi, the situation that arose during the Spring may also mean that some of our employees may permanently move to full time remote work, because doing IT work today is not dependent on time or place. Modern remote tools and high-speed data networks are very reliable these days and work extremely reliably. Based on my discussions with the staff in recent weeks, not everyone wants to work from home permanently and they want to return to work in the office as soon as possible. We will take a measured approach to this and consult our risk management policy as well as the current official advice.
I do miss my co-workers and even though I hear their voices in various online meetings every day, for me, it is important to see their body language and expressions when things are being discussed or negotiated, as it often gives a lot more information about how things really are. What I find interesting and joyful is that Fastroi’s job satisfaction metrics this spring show the best readings ever, even though they have never been at a low level before. Despite this, let us hope that we do not completely give up on office life. I think the return to the most normal new times is going well and we still want to meet each other in the future, whether we work in the office or remotely.
I wish everyone a safe summer and I hope you all stay healthy!