Location Independence is the Future – GTK Strives for New Ways of Working

About a year ago, many employees in Finland started working from home, and Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) staff was also quick to set up home offices. We asked ourselves: what will future work be like? What can we learn from our experiences during the pandemic and make the most of it 

Based on the experience in the past year, remote work is here to stay. How can a central government research agency develop to meet the challenges of modern work, when there’s office work, fieldwork and managing vast amounts of data? 

These thought processes brought us GTK 2.0 – Future Location Independent Work – Change Program, where the GTK 2.0 Team finds modern ways of working and builds a new work culture. The project team consists of experts in several fields and is now innovatively testing out new office and workspace models, modern technology and IT solutions and novel HR development. 

The Change Program is unique in two ways. Firstly, it uses new agile tools to help modernize central government organization, which may have seemed rigid in the past. Secondly, GTK 2.0 Change Program is a pilot for the central government in whole. This means creating something larger than just change in internal culture for GTK. We’re aiming to come up with a tool for modernizing the ways of work for everyone in central government, whenever applicable.

How have geologists faced the new normal during the pandemic? Here are three stories of geologists working in the exceptional circumstances and their thoughts on how they’d like their work to be arranged in the future.  

Jouko Nieminen location independent work

Jouko Nieminen 

Head of the Circular Economy Solutions Unit  

Currently working from home in Helsinki.

“A year ago, I was 100% pleased to start working from home. I used to travel a lot and now setting up home office was quick and easy. As the network connections improved, I enjoyed chatting with people in video conferences and still do.  

Working has been easy for me. Most things I usually did at the office, like signing papers, can now be done remotely. I have learned that there’s no point in always commuting to the office, because you can organize and finish tasks well from home alsoNow I’m much better at using Teams, and staff management works well when you are active in making calls, having conversations and remember to pay attention so that no one feels left behind. 

The challenges in remote work are missing face-to-face meetings, and lack of work ergonomics and creative brainstorming. On the other hand, the possibilities for more effectively organized work and location indepence seem endless. It’s great, that GTK has seized the opportunity to develop future location independent work from the research agency point of view. Mobile work will make GTK an appealing employer, as the employee can work from their hometown. Maybe in the future we’ll see more international experts working for GTK if they can stay in their countries of origin.  

Going forward, I’d prefer working 3-4 days remotely and 1-2 days from one of the GTK offices. Working from home allows flexibility and the possibility to balance work and free time. It would be fantastic to work from someplace warm during the winter months!” 

Tuija Vähäkuopus location independent work

Tuija Vähäkuopus

Team Manager

Currently working from home in Kokkola. 

”Before I started working from home, I had plans to do more remote work. When working remotely became compulsory, I was happy and excited to see what lies ahead.  

Work has been going really well and I feel like I’ve become much more efficient. I communicate with others a lot and have many daily meetings, so instead of running from one meeting room or phone booth to another, I can just put on my headphones. Less travelling is better for the environment, government funds and my family, and my wellbeing has improved more than expected.    

Working from home poses challenges for spontaneous meetings and discussions because there is no technology that could replace them completely. GTK 2.0 helps improve the idea of working easily with my colleagues wherever: in suitable office spaces or digital environments.  

Future work life sounds enticing and I’m looking forward to location independence and mobile work to be an everyday matter. Long summers I’ve spent doing field work have made me a real expert in remote location independent working. When compared with the early days, network connections work like charm. Data is easy to transfer and communication runs smoothly. It hasn’t been long since there were no laptops nor mobile phones with mobile data available for field work and data saving required several hard drives. With this rapid progress, the future seems unfathomable. Nevertheless, I know I’m ready, come what may.”  

Matti Kinnunen location independent work

Matti Kinnunen

Team Manager

Currently working from home in Hyvinkää. 

“When I started working as geologist for GTK in August 2020, the coronavirus situation was so good that I was able to have my orientation at the office for several days. Month by month the number of my remote work tasks increased, and by December I was working from home 100% of the time.  

Working from home was a challenge in the autumn as our network connections had issues and orientation could be tricky. Finding a nice, undisturbed spot in the house proved difficult. Now I’ve built a home office on our top floor and have found my daily work routines.  

From office, I miss interdisciplinarity, brainstorming with colleagues from other units while having coffee. The main reason for going to the office is to tell your colleagues the latest “great” jokes. Good orientation also becomes vital when there’s no face-to-face contact. It’s very important to have proper ergonomics, which GTK supports by lending office equipment.  

In my opinion, location independence can make GTK an attractive employer for new recruits as it allows an employee to work wherever they prefer and to have more free time. I’d like to work mostly remotely in the future, because it enables me to have time for hobbies, family and getting rest. I believe that in the long run, more free time can benefit the whole society.     

I’m glad that GTK is a pioneer in modern ways of working. We should aim high and work together bravely to reach our goals, which I’m sure we will!”     

GTK 2.0 – Future Location Independent Work – Change Program partners are Government ICT Centre Valtori, Ministry of Finance, Senate Properties, Fujitsu Finland, CSC – IT Center for Science, Elisa and Microsoft. 

Read more about the Change Program here.