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Remote working still gets thumbs up in Finland

Despite US Yahoo's highly publicised reshuffle, the confidence of Finnish employers in telecommuting remains unshaken, research reveals.

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16 percent of employees work from home at least some of the time. Image: Jyrki Lyytikkä / Yle

Marissa Mayer, CEO of US internet giant Yahoo, made headlines in February when she ordered all staff who had been working remotely back to their desks.  

According to a leaked email from company management, Mayer had discovered that working from home results in poorer quality outcomes, slower work and that cooperation suffers. The absence of water-cooler conversations means employees are less networked in to the creative processes and interactive goings-on of their workplace, according to Mayer.

Occupational Health expert Virpi Ruohomäki has not seen signs of a loss of confidence in telecommuting in Finland after the Yahoo incident.

”In Finland there is no trust issue between employer and employee,” says Ruohomäki. “We’ll continue as we have in the past: 16 percent of people on the payroll work from home at least occasionally.”

She also claims that there has been a slight downturn in the amount of teleworking in Finland and in the EU and US generally in the last few years. However, this may also be due to the economic downturn – many jobs have been lost in the IT sector and in other pioneering companies.

"An interesting backlash"

Tieto Oyj’s human resources head, Katariina Kravi, says that Yahoo’s trick is interesting also in terms  of the backlash it has inspired. According to her, Yahoo’s announcement has not given rise to discussion or consideration of new policies within Tieto. On the contrary, the company looks on telecommuting positively and wants to be regarded as pioneering in that regard, especially in light of the fact that it sells mobile work tools and services.

“When people do a lot of work we want to give them the opportunity to organise it in the most suitable manner,” she says.

Kravi adds that employees can leave, for example, in the afternoon -- in time to collect children from daycare -- finishing any remaining hours of work from home later in the evening.

She admits that telecommuting has the possibility to alienate the working community or deprive them of creative stimulation.

“I know that in Finland also, some companies have been forced to take a step back when telecommuting has gone too far. Sometimes staff aren’t ever seen at work,” says Kravi.

However, she says that remote working is part of Tieto's normal working model and its empowering work culture.

Tieto Oyj has more than 17 thousand employees, of whom about half are based in the Nordic area, which tends to have a higher rate of remote working than other regions.

Sources: Yle

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