The Aiconauts’ blog section is dedicated to shedding light on what it’s like to work at Aico, what our purpose is, and how we work towards the shared vision of becoming the leading financial close automation software provider in Europe. Tomas Salonaho joined Aico in December 2021 and is leading our international Sales and Marketing team. After Aico’s first-ever Sales kick-off session, Tomas wrote down his thoughts about building the “hybrid work” team spirit remotely and the importance of (occasional) face-to-face gatherings.
I started my journey as an Aiconaut in December 2021. At that time, there were around 40 Aiconauts in three different locations. Today there are close to 60 and we have hubs in four locations. The growth speed has been tremendous.
The timing to join the company was perfect, as all employees were at our Company HQ to prepare for our annual Christmas party. I was privileged to meet everyone during my first few days at Aico and to be part of a fun Christmas party.
Someone would call our way of working hybrid work, which is true. But many of our team members work mainly from their homes and visit the offices occasionally. We provide the same equipment to everyone’s home office as we have in the company offices. A proper chair, two displays, keyboard, docking station and other personal preferences.
To manage a team which has over ten people, seven different locations and seven different nationalities needs a bit of extra attention.
We need to respect cultural differences, working habits and different time zones. Time difference, for instance, might sound trivial. But there is a two-hour time difference between the Finnish and UK team members. This means in practice that you cannot, by default, book a meeting at 9 AM EET, which would be 7 AM GMT.
We are a remote working team; how then do we make sure that everyone feels part of the team?
Online Meeting Culture
When working in a remote team, we need to pay attention to the online meeting culture and meeting cadence. In general, we lack these quick coffee break catch-ups which occur naturally when working in the same office. Other random corridor chats are missing as well. We need to have an online culture which makes it possible to have these discussions.
In our team, we have a weekly meeting schedule of 121s and a team meeting. The frequency of these meetings also allows a time and place for impromptu discussion and infuses Aico’s culture into our team members.
While online meetings are without a doubt a vital element in how we communicate with each other, it can also be a burden to participate in multiple back-to-back meetings in one sitting. To provide Aiconauts a chance to catch their breath in between meetings, we replaced the traditional 30/60-minute calendar invitations with 25/50-minute slots.
We also do company-wide online coffee meetings where our employees can just meet others and chat. Finally, we have monthly info meetings for the whole company, where we go through the company situation more formally.
This lays the foundation of Aico’s online meeting culture.
Meeting Face to Face
Besides the online meeting culture, team members visit our HQ or other offices regularly to meet other Aiconauts face to face. It is always so energising to meet team members in person. It gives us all a huge boost to meet physically.
To maintain our interpersonal relationships, we have chats over coffee, attend monthly office breakfasts, and enjoy game and movie nights as well as other activities. Furthermore, when we have workshops and other similar events which would be challenging to arrange online, we all meet in person.
In August we had our first ever Sales Kick-Off in Aico’s history. The Sales and Marketing team, HR, our CEO and a couple of Aiconauts-to-be met in our HQ. Altogether 16 people were brainstorming, planning and developing our Sales and Marketing processes. After a long, productive and especially hot day, we rewarded ourselves with a hot sauna and cooling swim in the Baltic Sea. The evening continued with a nice dinner and wrapping up the day.
As we have many different cultures in the company, we want to embrace them. What would be a better way to show the Finnish culture than taking a hot sauna?
We are a high-growth company. Therefore, we are constantly seeking new team members for our Sales and Marketing team. Will you be the next new Aiconaut to join us?