Working life was undergoing significant changes and the general digitalisation trend was in progress already before the coronavirus pandemic, while it drastically changed our ways of working, or at least knowledge-based work. No manager of digital services or data management has succeeded in accelerating the digital transformation as effectively as coronavirus. As a result of the pandemic, the working culture and all the tools that support it need to undergo constant development to respond to the requirements set by remote, in-office and hybrid work.
In a digital world, cooperation, networks and teamwork dominate the operating culture. It has even been estimated that all work that can be done alone will be replaced by automation and robotics, while people will focus on work that is done together.
Driven by the operating culture, not by technology
The National Land Survey of Finland (NLS) was launching a project to modernise our digital work environment right before the outbreak of the pandemic. The coronavirus situation set new challenges for us, and most of us certainly understood that changes are needed. We already had a highly flexible model of multilocational work, but unfortunately we had not comprehensively developed tools to support this model and we had not agreed how to use different tools. This meant that our previous tools and practices did not optimally support the work carried out in internal cooperation and in partnership networks.
Joint data management, brainstorming and interaction were not at the best possible level, as activities and communication were largely based on email, files on network disks, and lengthy lists of instructions located in our intranet which had already reached a fairly mature age. Up-to-date, mobile-driven, agile and easy-to-use – adjectives with which many of us have become accustomed in private social media solutions – were far from reality at the NLS. Last year, we recruited some 170 new employees, and they especially gave frequent feedback on our outdated range of tools and practices.
Throughout the modernisation of our work environment, we have underlined that we are driven by the operating culture, not by technology. We started by preparing the vision of modern work almost like our new guidelines and wrote down more concrete rules and regulations to support this vision and to define how we work. Our vision highlights stronger competence by sharing expertise, the enhanced exchange of information, and learning.
Change remains constant, also in the future
Modernising the digital work environment requires that we all learn new things. The NLS change programme has especially focused on training and the network of digital buddies. We can also strengthen our competence by processing data correctly using correct tools, while meeting the obligations of information security and data protection, and by each of us meeting all the requirements related to their daily work. Our rules and regulations act as a framework for solutions covering our organisation, groups and individuals, and we commit to following these rules and regulations together.
Modernising the digital work environment is the first step in the NLS cloud strategy approved in the summer of 2021. It has been wonderful to see that we are not alone in this in central government. Similar changes that increasingly support cooperation and multilocational work are in progress in many partner organisations.
During this programme, everyone at the NLS has certainly seen that changing the operating culture, the ways of working and the range of tools is a never-ending process. We all need to keep our working life skills updated.
The author is the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the National Land Survey of Finland.
In the National Land Survey of Finland blog, different authors discuss various matters topical to the National Land Survey of Finland.