Remote work: More opportunities to work remotely

The extensive remote working made it easier for many of our employees to combine work and other aspects of life. We also increased worktime flexibility, so that workdays could be split into segments, where necessary.

Remote work brought on a number of new phenomena. In the spring, schools began providing remote schooling and daycare centres encouraged parents to care for young children at home. Therefore, many employees had to manage not just their work duties, but children of various ages at home.

We increased worktime flexibility to enable our employees to split their workdays into segments, their roles permitting. This helped them better juggle the schedules of different family members. 

Working remotely improved occupational well-being and opportunities for the staff to influence their own work. However, remote work also carries a risk in terms of work ergonomics. In order to combat this, we tried to remind our employees about ways to ensure ergonomics in the best way possible when working remotely.

Furthermore, taking breaks is important during remote work too, and people should remember to move and change positions sufficiently often. In fact, an old adage states that the ergonomically best position is always the next one we are about to change to. 

42% worked remotely

A report by municipal employers, published in April, was still urging the public sector to take advantage of remote work in a more diverse and extensive way. According to this report, without such measures the sector would be left behind. 

However, according to the Kunta10 survey, 42% of the staff had worked remotely at some point over the year.

The coronavirus pandemic resulted in sudden, major changes in some of the basic components of work. Since March, many of us have been carrying out our duties full-time outside of our actual workplaces. Facilities have been almost empty, and those few present have been keeping their distance and wearing masks.

We quickly learnt to operate in a digital world, where encounters are mainly virtual. We became efficient at holding meetings, and the boundaries between work and leisure time became muddled. 

More opportunities to work remotely

Up until the pandemic, the possibilities for working remotely varied between different sectors and divisions. Under the current circumstances, people in some roles where remote work was previously impossible have been able to carry out certain tasks from home.

The pandemic boosted and accelerated a natural trend towards a more varied working life. The new approach with work that can take place at multiple locations will substantially change our professional lives and subsequently the entire society. Among other things, remote work has an impact on management.  

Studies and experience have shown that remote work has a positive effect on efficiency, workforce availability, occupational well-being and ability to combine work and other aspects of life. 

Therefore, once the pandemic is over we should stop and consider the sort of normal we want to return to. For example, what will the new hybrid model for working life look like, combining the benefits of remote work and work at a workplace? 

Last autumn we agreed that we would continue to improve the remote work approach even after the pandemic has ended.

Kati Immeli-Vänskä koulun kotitalousluokassa leivonnaisten kanssa.
Among other things, Kati Immeli-­Vänskä teaches home economics. One of the home assignments she gave was to do something nice for other family members. Photo: Laura Oja.

Functional technology helped with digitalisation

Teacher Kati Immeli-Vänskä from Jätkäsaari Comprehensive School feels that schools managed the remote schooling period during the coronavirus spring well. She herself had used electronic learning environments in various ways before, and therefore remote schooling and learning felt familiar to her.

However, the rapid shift to remote schooling was not as easy for everyone. Immeli-Vänskä served as a tutor teacher, and together with her colleagues she arranged support for using computer software. The teachers also received help in this from the Education Division and the city organisation more generally. Google and Teams tools also helped with gaining these skills.

Modern technology can facilitate a lot of things, and the teachers used it to share pedagogic solutions that they themselves had come up with. One special needs teacher compiled proposals about what to do if a pupil is not doing their homework.

Exams were held via Meet, and if a pupil could not be reached, Immeli-Vänskä would keep trying to contact them until things started to improve. If a pupil was absent a lot, these absences were discussed together at the school, wearing masks and adhering to the social distancing rules.

Among other things, Immeli-Vänskä teaches home economics. One of the home assignments she gave was to do something nice for other family members, which the pupils seemed to enjoy. The list of positive acts performed by the pupils included making breakfast or lunch for their families, cleaning their homes and arranging a film night. 

Immeli-Vänskä never felt like she had to face this novel situation alone, as information and feelings were actively and collectively shared