How working globally can benefit a company - a chat with Akeo's COO, Hanne Gullerud
In this day and age, many companies are turning to more permanent distributed work solutions. However, Akeo is an old hand at working this way. The company has had over a decade of experience of getting work done without everyone being co-located.
An international company
With offices in Skien (Norway), and Jaipur (India), Akeo is experienced in running the business across continents. And with two new offices opening in Africa this year, succeeding while working in a distributed environment is more important than ever.
“The social contract for employment is not about showing up physically, but showing up mentally and engaging fully from wherever you are. The employees commit to being part of the team and doing the work, and we have to commit to making this possible”, explains Hanne Gullerud, Chief Operating Officer at Akeo.
In traditional work settings, “workplace” is defined by an office that someone goes to on a day-to-day basis. But in distributed environments, the idea of “workplace” becomes digital, as more and more people are connected across the globe.
“We feel like one team in our everyday lives. We connect on a daily basis to discuss, collaborate and share, and of course, we celebrate birthdays and holidays together. And for me specifically it has given me an internal clock for different time zones, because it is something I have to deal with every day!”, says Hanne.
How does it work?
Working with teams that are spread out around the globe does have its own challenges. However, there are things that have to be taken into consideration when planning and organising work for clients, as well as, just general communication and culture building. Hanne believes that involvement and ownership is the key to making these processes happen as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
“If you don’t have involvement from everyone, and trust the team to take full ownership and commitment to solving a project the best way, I don’t think we would get much work done. You have to involve everyone in the best possible way”, Hanne explains.
To achieve this, everyone needs to have a safe space to share ideas. But when you don’t have physical proximity and it is easy to have informal interactions, we need to find ways of building relationships that foster trust in different ways. In Akeo, the solution is embracing fun - it’s the most fundamental way for us to feel safe and share a connection, she continues.
Does it work for clients?
This global work environment naturally impacts the people we work with. An important part of a successful project is ensuring that everyone involved understands the practical aspects of planning the milestones and deliveries. One of the key areas is language - because multiple countries are often involved, a lot of communication is carried out in English. Another area is the holiday season in different countries.
“Norwegians are famous for our long summer holidays, but July is not a holiday month in India. As long as you are aware of it can be a really great advantage for the client, the project, and everyone”, Hanne points out.
Having a global reach also means that we are able to hire the best possible talent from global pools, instead of only competing for resources locally. This is of course a great benefit when it comes to finding people who have the best possible skills and will be the best fit for the company and the projects.
In this day and age, anyone can hire globally and find great talent across the globe. It’s just that, for Akeo, we have ten years experience already in how to do it, and make it work.
No matter how good you are at working in a distributed team, nothing beats those times when you are all physically together and sharing about life. Hanne looks forward to when all of Akeo can travel and see each other again.
Pre-covid we all used to meet up in India at least once a year. These are long, hard days of work, but then so much fun too.
Without a doubt - the Annual Office Party is the highlight of the Akeo calendar. Everyone in the company is looking forward to the time when a Global Office Party can once again be held.
It’s strange to think that we haven’t met in over two years and many new Akeo-members have never met outside the digital workplace. Hopefully, we will be able to be together and celebrate the achievements and the many wonderful reasons to be part of the Akeo family again soon.
Curious how we can give your business a competitive advantage?
Feel free to contact Hanne to meet over a cup of coffee?