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Kisko Labs benefits from remote work

Remote working has become a widespread phenomenon in the startup community. Istock.com/Georgijevic

In the startup community remote working has become a widespread phenomenon. But what are the things that should be taken into account with remote collaboration?

Setting up a remote working team, raises many questions: is it really possible to work together without physically being in the same location? And how can you work effectively with only little face-to-face interaction?

Finnish digital business consulting company Kisko Labs tells how they have solved the communications problems that remote work can cause.

Common goals

“At the outset, there are founders or co-founders who come up with a business idea, a vision, and assemble a team to execute the idea,” says Antti Akonniemi, founder of Kisko Labs. “The new startup company needs to clearly define and share the common purpose and goals with all team members. In other words, companies must ensure that everybody is in the same boat, rowing together towards the same destination.”

In the past, companies would often frame a printed mission statement and hang it in a place easily visible for all team members. People felt engaged when they were told why and how the company’s purpose and goals were in their own and the team’s best interest.

But that’s all gone as the Generation X and the Millennials want something more from their work:

“Much ink has been spilled about Generation X and the Millennials search for “meaningful work”; to them, this means a pay check is not enough,” explains Akonniemi. “Mission matters and they want to be engaged in its definition and its fulfilment. In our rapidly evolving digital age, a formal, top-down approach no longer fits the bill. A more interactive approach must be instituted.”

Encouraging personal development

Startup company CEOs and team leaders, usually with limited capital and resources, must encourage the development and contribution of each team member’s unique talents and personal strengths. One team member can often see opportunities or threats that fellow team members cannot. Encouraging involvement also means that team members should each understand their individual responsibility for their role in the whole team’s success. And they must be empowered to make real, actionable suggestions and contributions.

What comes to internal communications, Kisko Labs has given up email and Skype and they are using the phone as little as possible. For everyday communications and ‘water cooler talk’ Kisko’s team is using Flowdock, which is similar to Slack.

“We mainly need the office simply to have workshops with our clients,” Akonniemi says. “One of the biggest advantages that we see is that we have reduced the need for meetings and there is much less info noise because all the important data is kept in written form”

“Actually what has happened is that there is rather a significant increase of the quality of info. Nobody’s interested in creating noise in the team chat room as they are only focused on one thing: their work.”

Even when no one is required to come to the Kisko Lab office every day, most people still show up just to be around colleagues or to have a quick game of table hockey. Image: Kisko Lab

This article was originally posted on Nordic Startup Bits.

By: Vahur Orrin