Friday the 13th — a beginning of new opportunities

A year ago everyone in Finland quickly switched to work remote, and the GTK employees also moved briskly to home offices. Samu Valpola, the Project Manager of the GTK 2.0 change program, which promotes new ways of doing work, writes in this blog how GTK adapted to the situation. In the end, Friday the thirteenth was the beginning of something completely new.

A bit more than a year ago I was coming back from a work trip in Prague. Surrounded by a quiet airport, I discussed the development of the corona virus situation with my colleagues. The shared opinion of our international group was that the situation will alleviate by next summer. We were a bit worried about the fate of an international science conference planned to be held in the summer 2020, but generally we felt that everything was under control.

Next week, things escalated very rapidly. Decisions were made in fast pace. Everyone prepared for the worst but at the same time had a strong trust that everything will get back to normal quickly. In my job of the time, I worked with my colleagues to create different scenarios of what kind of financial and operational conditions we would had to cope with in this new state of emergency that resulted from a complete and sudden transition to telecommuting.

Although the situation was difficult and sudden, I uppermost remember the commitment and responsibility that the whole personnel showed. In particular, the vigor to ensure the safety of on-site workers was impressive.

Friday itself, March 13, 2020, was a real experience. It will probably go down in history as a day after which the way one works will never be exactly the same again.

Again, it was proven that human is a tremendously adaptable and adaptable being. Most of us adapted very quickly to the new situation. We finally got to do all the tasks that just a moment earlier we had considered either technically or mentally very difficult, if not impossible to perform remotely.

Plants growing
Fransesco Gallarotti / Unsplash

Of course, we at GTK can lean on the fact that we have been able to continue our work. It has not been limited nor become financially unsustainable. We have had the opportunity to move forward. New practices, solutions, means. Different implementations, different options. And all this added on top of the normal work. Stretching and stabilizing in a different way. A new culture that forms and is formed.

There is a lot to learn from the early stages of the exceptional circumstances. However, the most important thing is still ahead. The headwork begun last spring on how the exceptional-accelerated change towards the way of working in the future has grown into concrete actions towards the location independent work of the future. There is a lot of work ahead, and the feeling that the steps taken are short is constantly present. Globally, there are many processes underway that are faster than ever before. The one who adapts and rows downstream while maintaining the control will succeed.

We want to be one of these successes. Challenges should not be underestimated. Sense of community, the opportunity to work with colleagues, functional technical solutions, and appropriate facilities are the strengths we form as a community. Our values build a great backrest. “We create an atmosphere of encouragement, we value everyone’s input and we involve everyone,” tells what it is all about: the opportunity for all of us to continue to do our job well, productively, and in a way that makes us feel good.

The change and its pilot project, the GTK 2.0, are just beginning. Alone and on our own, we will not stay on top. But together with our partners, it is possible. Our readiness to do this work at different levels and roles is amazing. The feedback and the willingness of the personnel to be involved show that we have really seized the opportunity. It must be adhered to.

Samu Valpola
Project Manager, GTK 2.0 – change program