30.09.2019 Author Pekka Vuorela, CEO

Taking on remote work in the middle of Europe

At present, telecommuting, expanding the ways of working, and coordinating the needs of family life and work are forming some of the most significant and topical transformations of working life. We at Innolink have also tested many things in the previous years: for example, we have implemented flexible remote working, cut back on the monitoring and reporting of working hours, provided a possibility to do physical activities during working hours, and introduced offlines: moments of resting and relaxation in the middle of working days. I believe that the organisational culture and the ways of working can be made significantly more flexible. It all starts with trust between the employees and management, but, then again, it all comes to a stop if the trust is not there. Do people really work while at home, and do exercising and offline periods during working hours really increase productivity? These are typical questions that are asked before implementing flexible employment, and they often spring from a lack of trust or knowledge.

In the upcoming 12 months, I myself will personally take a big step when I combine the possibilities of remote work, the demands of family life and the internationalization of our company. The ambitious goal is to combine remote CEO work for Innolink in Finland with taking over a new market in Germany. Internationalization has been in our company’s plans for a long time – and now the stars and fate aligned giving us a chance to pursue it. As the CEO of a company built around knowledge-driven leadership, it would give me great pride to say that these decisions were made purely on the basis of a long-term data analysis and consideration, but, in reality, they were mostly based on chance and the needs of family life. This time, that was the background on which we started combaining the components of work life and business together.

We have been serving our customers globally for over 10 years and conducted market research in over 100 target countries. It has been great to get to perform a market analysis for our own company’s needs. We crunched collected company data, and from our own portfolio of 1,000 customers we found over 60 companies that are already operating in the German market. It has been fantastic to see how my own customers and acquaintances have lent us a hand to help Innolink build a network in Germany. The German market has lots of potential, and it is approximately 25 times the size of the Finnish market. In Germany, the digital sector is growing strongly and the budgets for purchasing different services are substantial. Finnish companies and expertise are trusted, the power of networking is massive, and the do-what-you-promise mentality is appreciated. These are just some of the important advice I have already been equipped with.

Internally, our company took this news amazingly well, and I believe that the trust and practices of flexibility that already existed in our corporate culture made everyone even more understanding. It has been great to see how the board, the management group and the entire staff all seem to stand behind this project, helping and encouraging me to make it happen. I announced my move in June and will be moving to Germany in September. At this stage, I have already received an enormous amount of support from my colleagues and partners; leads and networks are being created and genuine help offered.

I am no stranger to combining different roles and working remotely: during my studies, I lived in New Mexico and worked remotely for a company in Bangkok. I also opened the Innolink office 10 years ago in Helsinki while living in Tampere. However, remote work and pursuing internationalization in the role of a CEO is for me a leap to the unknown. I am nervous and anxious, and keep wondering if I can be worthy of everyone’s trust; can I establish the new business and at the same time carry out my CEO tasks remotely to Finland? Perhaps, deep down inside, the board and the management group are also questioning whether or not they should trust me and if I will succeed. Then again, I strongly believe that a person who accepts a challenge of working remotely bears a lot more responsibility of the situation than ever assumed.

During the next 12 months, my goal is to expand our network, hire new people, familiarize myself with German business, acquire contacts, organise meetings, and do some business as well. Most likely I will succeed to achieve some of these targets and fail in others. However, the most important thing is that there is courage, flexibility and trust so that I can pursue these goals. And for this I want to thank you all in advance!

Meet me in Stuttgart. I will also be visiting Finland regularly!

Pekka Vuorela