Work-life quality is serious business in Finland, they have taken it to whole new levels!
When countries across the world went into lockdown due to the pandemic, the shift to online operations was a challenge for many. In Finland, this was not the case as Finland is highly digital, but more importantly, remote and hybrid working models in Finland are rooted in a culture of societal trust.
Figure 1. Remote work station- City of Lathi, FI- Green capital in Europe 2021
Source: (Lathi , 2021)
Before Covid-19, 14.1% of the Finnish workforce usually worked from home, and during Covid this figure rose to 25% (Eurostat, 2021). Finnish HR directors and researchers alike believe it is a lasting trend that is going to increase further as the economy is digitally service intensive, but also environmental concerns are a driver.
Since the mid-nineties the Working Hours Act has allowed Finns to adjust their working day by starting or finishing up to three hours earlier or later. More recently, a new Working Act came into force to further well-being and work-life balance by allowing for substantial employee discretion in terms of when and from where work is undertaken (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, 2020).
In Finland agile working plays a growing role in recruitment in a country with huge forests and thousands of lakes and with a sparsely dispersed population of just 5.5 million. The Finnish company reaktor.com, famed for the launch of the online course Elements of AI which is freely available across the EU and has been used so far by around 750,000 people, has more recently decided to offer 100% remote work to have a broader recruitment base, and has also shifted to skills-based hiring in an attempt to attract talent from the open-source community who have acquired deep digital skills in other ways than through formal education.
The Finnish societal model is based on social dialogue and a strong commitment to lifelong learning. To stimulate quality in working life several tripartite programmes have been implemented over time such as the TYKES programme 2004-2009, and more recently Work2030, which aim to make effective use of technology in workplaces and create working life innovations that are conducive to skills development and skills utilisation. At Stora Enso, an advanced manufacturing company in bio-renewable materials, new ideas will frequently emerge and problems will be solved through informal forms of interactions around the water cooler or – when somebody is stuck with a problem – through sparring with a colleague to find a totally new solution. However, the vice president for Future of Work at Stora Enso recognizes that even if the company is highly digital and has advanced collaborative tools at hand, these tools currently lack an intuitive interface which would allow you to have an easy overview of who is at the company premises at a given day and who is only available remotely. Although Stora Enso has also adopted flexible and remote working opportunities, it also recognizes that current technologies and the nature of interface design limit individuals’ and teams’ ability to work in a fully augmented way regardless of location.
Eurofound, 2021. Living, working and COVID-19. [Online] Available at: https://citymonitor.ai/economy/jobs/to-see-how-a-city-embraces-remote-work-look-to-helsinki [Accessed November 2021].
Eurostat, 2021. Employed persons working from home as a percentage of the total employment, by sex, age and professional status (%), Luxemburg: Eurostat.
Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, 2020. The new Working Hours Act has entered into force on 1.1.2020 in Finland, Helsinki: Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
Lathi , 2021. This Nordic city takes remote work to the woods: now you can work in the middle of the forest, Lathi: Lathi Finland.