When the going gets tough, the tough get going. The old adage comes to mind when viewing the performance of the Finnish workforce amidst the coronavirus chaos: not missing a step, a million Finns started working from home like it’s business as usual.
The preliminary results from Eurofound’s April 2020 survey 'Living, working and COVID-19' are now in and they paint a picture of a tech-savvy nation with plenty of grit to keeps the wheels rolling. Proportion of workers who started teleworking as a result of COVID-19 is far higher in Finland (59%) than anywhere else in Europe.
Looking at the situation across the EU, only a little over third of workers (37%) currently working in the EU began to telework as a result of the pandemic. After Finland, the survey finds plenty of home office workers (above 50%) in Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark, followed by a decent performance (40% or more) in Ireland, Sweden, Austria and Italy. At the bottom of the ranking, we discover Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia, Greece and Romania – all of which failed to crack the threshold of 30%.
The Eurofound study also shows that in countries where more people began working from home as a result of the pandemic, fewer workers reported that their working time decreased – suggesting that remote working from home is rather productive, too.
Actually, the results indicate that 50% of the working population across the EU experienced a reduction of some sort in their working time. Holding firm in the crisis, however, there was “Fortress Nordica”: the largest proportion of workers whose working time has not changed was reported in Sweden, Finland and Denmark (52%, 49% and 45% respectively).
Obviously, the capability to switch from office to home does not materialize overnight. Kaija Laitinen, Senior Advisor for Global Insight at Business Finland, points out that Finns have a long history with remote working – for a couple of reasons.
“First of all, the connections are there: we have the required IT infrastructure in place guaranteeing that you can easily work from home. Second, there is trust between the employer and the workers: it’s alright to work from home – or anywhere you want, for that matter – as long as the job gets done,” she says.
Then there is the issue of a good proportion of the workforce being highly educated experts whose regular day lends itself well to remote working: being independent of the restraints of time and place is very much a part of the ethos of today’s “information ace”.
“The way we approach work and how we want to shape it in the 2020’s is constantly evolving. I feel that Finland is in the forefront of this evolution, showing, in part, the way to the future,” Laitinen comments.
According to Laitinen, many international hi-tech companies feel drawn to Finland because of this modern, “next level” workforce. “In addition to tech excellence, Finns have the self-management skills that the employers hold in very high regard,” she says.
Laitinen believes that the even after COVID-19 has run its course, remote working will continue to increase its popularity.
“People have a real taste for it now and employers have seen that it works. It’s also ecological: companies can reduce their carbon footprint by cutting down on work-related travel.”
Read more about workforce in Finland