Story by Gary Stevens
As the internet facilitates globalization, remote work is becoming more accepted. Even prior to the coronavirus pandemic, a majority of businesses globally engaged in remote work. Companies are frequently collaborating with contractors and freelancers from all over the world. The opportunity to work from home is often touted as a benefit to joining a company and a signal of trust.
As fear of the coronavirus continues to ravage the globe, remote work is a necessity, not a luxury. Companies that wanted to survive the lockdown had to pivot and find ways to get work accomplished online. While brick and mortar businesses suffered, companies offering tech solutions flourished.
Nowhere was this seen more than in Nordic countries. In Sweden, Iceland, and Norway tech start-ups are offering real solutions for offices making the transition to remote work. In this article, we will discuss the Nordic companies helping to make remote work not only a possibility but a long-term preference.
1 – Remote Work in Nordic Countries
Nordic countries have a legacy of encouraging work-life balance and flexible work policies. Finland passed a law in 1996 requiring companies to provide their employees with a start time and end time that is flexible within three hours to accommodate family and personal obligations. In 2016, that was extended to include flexibility regarding work location.
Needless to say, companies in countries like Finland have experienced less problems preparing their businesses for pandemic stay-at-home advisories. This is because they already had existing infrastructure for remote work.
However, there are still great strides to be made in connecting workers digitally for remote collaboration. Nordic tech companies are making them.
2 – The Coronavirus Economy
Before the pandemic, nearly three fourths of businesses were in the process of digital transformation. But the onset of the COVID-19 health scare forced many companies that favored traditional office or physical settings to adapt to the digital economy quickly. The unprecedented global coronavirus crisis caused those that failed to adapt to shutter their doors forever.
However, many companies actually experienced a surge in demand due to COVID-19. Companies offering delivery services, tech solutions like video conferencing, medical equipment and online educational tools are burgeoning.
Whereby, a Norwegian company founded in 2017, specializes in providing users with remote video conferencing tools. The service experienced a 450% increase in global usage and a 180% rise in recurring revenue last March.
Similarly, Danish company Kara Connect provides a platform for health care and welfare professionals to connect remotely with clients. From therapist visits to divorce court, people are realizing that connecting remotely is not only a great solution but a better long term alternative.
Some of these Nordic companies provide vital services for other countries with larger populations that are struggling with the pandemic, like the United States.
For a couple of more examples, Sweden-based individual educational skills startup Sana Labs recently began a project to provide essential skills to the millions of American nurses fighting COVID-19 in hospitals and nursing homes. Done is a Swedish app that connects property owners to contractors, enabling them to get quotes on work and repairs via video conference.
Nordic startups have been bold enough to create remote, virtual solutions even in industries long considered unadaptable to the digital world.
3 – Remote Work is Not Without Challenges
While Nordic culture has been a champion for remote work, they do not ignore the unique challenges of a work-from-home team.
Many Nordic startups have addressed the most common problems found in remote working teams. These issues include lack of transparency, feedback and communication, inability to gauge employee morale, difficulties recruiting virtually and issues with cyber security.
N’GAGER is a Scandinavian platform that focuses on providing leaders with the skills necessary to manage employees remotely. Built-in tools that encourage regular mutual feedback about quality of work and workplace sentiment helps in creating a workplace culture of openness.
The Timely App, developed by Norwegian startup Memory, gives employers the ability to monitor time spent working online. With this tool, bosses are able to see when their employees are working and get a better understanding of their work schedule.
While there are many startups that offer services that make remote work more easy, there are none that are able to ensure that your remote workers are totally safe from cybersecurity dangers. Although there are many softwares that help protect businesses, a high level of cyber security can only be obtained through employee knowledge and compliance.
No matter which app, software or program are being used to virtually get work done, it’s important that users remember to take action to ensure their online privacy while working virtually. And while working virtually may be convenient and effective, it does open your company up to some unique risks when all of your information is being sent online.
4 – Nordic Companies Dominating the Remote Work Landscape
Thanks to the Nordic culture of flexible, adaptable workplaces, other countries have been able to benefit from the various tools found in Scandinavian nations that enable remote work. Nordic startups have been quick to come forward with innovative solutions to problems many businesses are facing.
No one can control what is happening in the world right now. However, there are many tech startups, especially in Nordic countries, that are proving that adaptation is possible and maybe even preferable.
“It is important for startup ecosystems and associated tech providers to take on the role of informing and supporting companies, to better transition to a digitally-driven world,” according to Swedish Billhop CEO Sebastian Andreescu. “Meanwhile, technology providers need to be flexible and open to create more bespoke solutions in order for companies to find a product that matches their desired culture and business model.”
As the old say goes. understanding a problem is essential to fixing it. Although lives worldwide have changed, there is no reason to give up hope that your business can and will flourish in spite of this.
Nordic tech startups have shown us that we can abide by new COVID-19 safety procedures without being paralyzed by them. As the ancient Norse king said in the Saga of Harald Hardrada, “Ill is the result of letting fear rule thine actions.”