Our CEO and gamification guru Jukka Koskenkanto talked about the essentials of enterprise gamification last fall at the Nordic Digital Business Summit in Helsinki.
At Microsoft Finland, we’ve been teleworking for a few years already using our so-called “being present” working model, which means that goals guide our work and it doesn’t matter where or when we work. Many people, actually more people than the capacity of the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki, have visited our Meeting Point in Keilaranta, Espoo, to find out, how we use modern technology, new spaces, and management to achieve challenging goals, yet at the same time keep job satisfaction high. During this inspiring and compelling journey we’ve had to think over the very fundamentals of work.
Does working at a physical workspace bring more value to the employer than working at home? Location doesn’t really play a significant role in many tasks regarding information work. If the work tasks require concentration, employees can work in spaces, where they choose to be interrupted themselves. This is not the case in a traditional working space. Different tasks require different kind of interaction, as Sarah Caldicott, relative to Thomas Edison, argues in her book Midnight Lunch; the Meeting Point at Microsoft Finland is mentioned as one example in the book. Real-time face-to-face interaction is only needed in very rare occasions. Fitting people in the same space at the same time is not always the most efficient way to increase understanding, exchange information or make decisions. Our experiences have been very positive, when we’ve given our professionals the opportunity to decide themselves where and when they want to work.
Is the workload divided evenly during a year, a week or a day nowadays? Without exception there are always both slower and heated periods in all working roles. Deadlines will force us to walk the extra mile. These bursts are different depending on the function and role, as Mika Pantzar and Ilkka Halava very well point out in their book Rytmitalous (Rhythm Economy). Nevertheless, it is astonishing, how in most cases the working day still is framed the same way for everyone: working time is fixed and slower periods are overly and hectic periods under resourced. If the employee collects working hours and takes a day off once in a while, that is considered as laziness and inflexibility. If the employer has the right to oblige you to work longer hours at the workplace, shouldn’t the employee be able to go to the gym during the morning traffic jam without feeling guilty? Wouldn’t it be tempting for the employer to pay for employee’s 100 % inspired, efficient and motivated work?
Would it be possible to proceed to a compensation model that rewards adding value at all workplaces? How could this be measured? I’ve never heard an employer disagree with the claim that the meaning of work is to achieve the employer’s goals, not to collect working hours. That being said, why is it that in many companies the employee knows his hours better than his goals, performance, metrics or rewards? When the goals are managed right, working time and location will be flexible. Like Daniel Pink states in his book Drive, we’ve realized at Microsoft that by using goals to manage, managers can focus on the essential and at the same time employee engagement increases, when the employee has the responsibility to meet the goals.
Even this blog post came into being, when I was driving to work; it required a little bit of concentration and was finalized in twenty minutes in the library of our Meeting Point, an interruption-free zone. Now it’s time to head for a lunch meeting in our cafeteria to innovate our concept for the Internet of Things. After the meeting, the day continues with Lync meetings at my home office. And rest assured, I won’t feel guilty about not sitting at my workspace – we don’t even have personal workspaces anymore.
If it was up to me, I would give all Finnish employees the gift of teleworking for Christmas. It would definitely be one of the key drivers to get Finland back on the growth track.
Writer is the Marketing and Business Director of Microsoft Finland as well as an adventurer in the world of new work, devoted father of a tech-savvy family and a drummer for a good cause.
Four years ago I was studying in Santiago, Chile. During my studies, I got to know a few really great people also from El Salvador, which is a small, beautiful developing country in Central America. A year later, when back in Finland, I invited them to join my birthday party. Of course they couldn’t travel across the world, but this invitation led to something bigger.
I found out that one of my friends was starting a Teach for All initiative in El Salvador called Enseña por El Salvador. Due to Finland’s good reputation in education, I asked if he wanted some help. In the beginning of 2012 I gathered up a team of Finnish teachers and teachers-to-become and later some Salvadoran living in Finland joined us as well. This has been a truly meaningful project but as the beginning of the Enseña por El Salvador training has been postponed several times, it has at times been challenging to remember the meaningfulness.
Further on, even when the work is meaningful it sometimes requires some tasks that you don’t enjoy that much and – especially in voluntary work – sometimes you might have something more urgent to do. Here, the role of the leader plays a big role.
I find that it is important to clearly define what our goal is and what concrete actions each of us needs to take to achieve this goal. This helps us to define our roles and responsibilities. When defining the roles and responsibilities, the (voluntary) workers should be encountered as individuals: what kind of ambitions and wishes they have, and what do they want to learn and gain.
We track the desired actions, which helps us to clarify what we are doing and connects also the not-that-inspiring tasks to the meaningful goal we want to achieve together. As the goal might seem distant – and as in our case, it is moving further all the time –, it is essential to celebrate the little advancements. We have, for example, made traditional Salvadoran pupusas together to thank ourselves for the good work so far. This last sentence actually includes two more important tools for motivating: good food and saying “thank you, great job” for the tasks well performed. (Ok, maybe good food is not that important in working life, but who wouldn’t prefer a meeting with healthy snacks to one without.)
I feel that I haven’t always performed as well as I could have, partly because of lack of established processes. Luckily our team members are such great professionals with a big heart that they continue working with the project nevertheless.
Even though this project is run by volunteers, the same management principles apply to working life: we need to set clear goals and concrete actions to achieve the goals as well as define clear roles and responsibilities. And you should never forget to celebrate the achievements and say thank you – and provide good food.
The writer is Cloudriven’s expert in organizational development and holds a Master’s degree in Technology. Whenever she’s not working, she volunteers to provide education for kids in El Salvador, and to create a better world through scouting.
This is the second and last part of Jukka’s blog post about meaningful work. The first part was released two weeks ago.
As we tend to do at Cloudriven, we analyzed what kind of results we’d achieved in spring and what kind of actions were taken to reach the results. Based on the analysis, we decided what we’re going to focus on this fall and made some changes to our management system:
a) we gave the employees more autonomy, so they can now decide on their own what strategically relevant actions they take on a weekly basis
b) we separated actions and results
c) we decided to reward employees for doing strategically relevant actions with the chance to influence Cloudriven’s operations and to get opportunities for professional development
When you’re given the freedom to choose from different actions that are critical to the ability to create value for the customers, you can channel your time and skills better for actions that you’re good at and you have motivation to perform. If our presumption of somewhat rational decision-making concerning the use of time will be true, the logical conclusion is that the productivity of our work will increase compared to the previous season.
We also thought about how we could build our team spirit even further. We decided to give each of us the chance to weekly nominate a colleague who has done an excellent job. This is how we try to channel respectful and guiding feedback to each other. It was also amazing to hear that our customers wanted to join us too. A couple of weeks ago I filmed a video in which one of our customers tells spontaneously how a mobile app developed by Cloudriven has had a positive impact on their organization’s customer interactions. We do our work to deliver success for our customers and the best feedback we can get is a sincere Thank You from a customer.
In addition, we supposed that we all want to learn new things and develop ourselves. That is why we revised the way our actions are rewarded. During the fall, every team member can teach their special skills to others; these mini-courses will be provided as a reward for good performance. The final course listing is still in the making, but the selection seems to match at least a small folk high school. Of course we also offer smaller and a bit bigger rewards that develop our skills and welfare, and offer possibilities to influence our own work.
Even the Bears Don’t Always Wrestle – Occasionally They Eat Lingonberries
If everything mentioned above would run solely on manual labor, Cloudriven would have a chronic need to hire more people to management. However, we decided to let the bears hunt for the lingonberries (N.B. this Finnish saying was made popular by Kummeli, a popular comedy group originally from Tampere), so that we can instead focus on work that adds value to our customers. That is why we use our Habit Engine to manage our weekly tasks and work. We made some changes to the configurations of Habit based on the changes implemented in our management system:
a) we present critical actions and results in the same view to be able to examine what is the connection between actions and results
b) we only give rewards for actions, because we believe that results obey actions
c) we unified the target points of different worker roles, so that the work efforts would be comparable
d) we register all the sales activities in our own Virta CRM and push the data to Habit through the generic Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration
e) we welcome video feedback from our customers about our successes and possible weak spots and discuss about the feedback
Yet refining the system didn’t lead us to give up our weekly team meetings. On the contrary, we strengthened our management through the Habit Engine; now we can analyze our performance weekly and make fast but advised decisions. The changes didn’t affect the time we spend on weekly meetings, but it increased the productivity of the meetings, as we can now use our time more on relevant topics.
When it comes to attendance, the most significant change is that Janne is mapping out possible partners in New York and can’t attend the meetings in person. Despite the fact that he’s not physically here, he’s still present. His work efforts can be tracked in Habit and communication is easy with Office 365 services, like Lync, Outlook, SharePoint, and our social Virta CRM.