It’s time for balloons, discos and donuts – Vappu is here!
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic big traditional happenings are on hold. However, Goforeans wanted to share happy and family-friendly ideas for remote and #Stayhome parties.
Top 10 Vappu tips
- The more balloons and streamers you have the more festival the atmosphere rises*
- Don’t forget to invite guests! Organising remote fancy vappu dinner with friends or family is easier than ever: buy similar takeaways for guests and have a quality dinner over a video call
- Stick with the traditions: brew sima and bake “munkkeja” (a type of Finnish donut)
- Also, if you prefer spending time by chilling instead of baking, don’t hesitate to support your local bakery. Most likely they even have home delivery options
- This year you can be goofing around with various vappu garments without losing them all over the city
- Taking part in the concerts is now easier than ever: you can lay on your coach, drink your favourite beverage and watch the gigs on YouTube or on Facebook
- There are many options also for kids: enjoy Live Facebook children’s concert or a remote vappu disco. Check out this for example Lasten Vappufestivaali Livestream
- Start the BBQ season – The new philosophy of grilling is that everything can be grilled
- Remember also outdoor activities such as Mölkky
- Have a picnic on a balcony and instead of disposable tableware use the house silver. Also, enjoy the fact you don’t need to stress about finding the toilet.
Stay safe and have fun – celebrate Vappu from your home this year!
*remember the recycling, you can find comprehensive tips here.
Keeping in touch is one of the strongest things in our arsenal when it comes to providing a great experience for our customers. We’ve asked our customers about the effects corona virus situation has had on them. We’ve been discussing about their business, how their teams are doing, how they have experienced remote work, and whether their business is struggling somewhere.
Overall teams have very unique experiences, and we have been happy to see that there are quite a few positive experiences as well.
“There are even implications that we as a company may be moving permanently towards remote work culture.”
”We have noticed improved efficiency in software development. Reasons could be better ability to focus (peace), and having to focus on the essential because bulk of the communication is done in writing.”
“There’s an increased feeling of equality as everyone in the team is experiencing the same.”
“Re-introducing dailys have helped us organize work and tackle uncertainties.”
Could we offer any assistance?
That being said, communications is not that simple, and there are lot of moving parts. The first you’ll encounter is how to begin your discussion? What would be appropriate when reaching out to see how others are coping with the present situation, and whether we could offer any assistance? The personal and business-level experience can be surprising.
“We are exhausted after eight hours of work, there are no breaks!”
“I’ve been on calls back to back for 10 hours. My headphones are causing me a migraine.”
“Well, we are waiting for that info session to begin…”
It’s always important to be polite, kind, and express appreciation for the discussion partner. Being pleasant and courteous is assumed. But, the biggest thing that can make a difference is acting like an actual human. In other words, making sure that the exchange of thoughts is warm and sincere can make all the difference.
We believe that what makes a good communication is being as human as possible, which admittedly can be difficult during these remote times over electronic forms of communication. However, by taking all the small nuances into account, it is possible to make discussion feel human, authentic, and integral in creating a positive experience for our customer together with our business.
Remote work may require closer management and skillfull leadership
Software development is one of those areas where remote work is the most natural. Teams can operate pretty much as usual, but may require closer management and skillfull leadership to support individuals during times of worries.
However, during these unconditional times it is good to acknowledge that the remote work setup might not be optimal for everyone. It might be a toss-up between work ergonomics and tranquility when trying to find a place to focus. It is important to reach out and to stay in touch. Peer support, listening and learning from each other carries us through this time.
For more on how to succeed, check our previous blog posts about from forced change to positive outcome, how to have a great virtual meeting, how to succeed in virtual meetings, and are you preparing for the post-pandemic world.
Please let us know whether we’re doing a good job or could help you even further.
Capability Owner of Web Development,
A reminder for the weekly team meeting pops up on the calendar. As the participants open their connections, one can hear various sounds of life in the background. Somewhere behind the first participant children are coming up with new games. The second participant’s curious dog would very much like to attend the meeting. The third participant carefully corrects their posture with a sleeping cat in their arms. The fourth arrives and greets everyone: “Hi, we had to negotiate a little, since the whole household is working from home.”
The situation is not fictitious, but at the same time it is not at all unusual. The people working with Gofore’s maintenance services are experienced telecommuters – we work across various cities and even countries daily. The core team of Continuous Services alone is a happy blend of people from all of Gofore’s Finnish sites. Nowadays many things can be taken care of smoothly even while sitting by a lake with a laptop at hand. Functional remote tools alone do not guarantee this fluency. It requires agile, collaborative procedures and efficient knowledge distribution, akin to swarm intelligence, between teams.
During a software development project, it is natural to have one focused core team working on the application and infrastructure development. As the project is completed and the system goes into production, the nature and requirements of the project tend to change. During the maintenance phase, the focus shifts to a more reactive mode of working and new feature development is usually scaled down. At this stage, it is essential that information and know-how about the system and operations is spread across a safety net of specialists. This becomes even more vital in critical situations.
As the current global situation unfolds before our very eyes, there’s been a sudden rise in discussion regarding many things that have perhaps been taken for granted – in particular, remote work and accessibility of services. At the latest this week the entire global community has been waking up to a world that runs rather different from what we’re used to. As anxieties and concerns regarding the global situation and our everyday lives grow, it is more vital than ever that services, large and small, remain operational and accessible. But please don’t worry if it seems like storm clouds are gathering on the horizon – you won’t need to make it to shore alone.
It’s best to pack a life vest while it’s still sunny
When I was a little girl, my grandfather taught me how to row a boat at sea. There was no stepping on the boat dock, let alone actually entering the boat, unless you were securely strapped in your life vest. We blew on the whistles to see that they worked without fault and made sure everything was fastened correctly. We practiced what to do in case an oar should drop into the water. And what to do if the other oar should follow the first, somehow. Someone might consider this silly or see it as an exaggeration, but these lessons taught me more than just safe boating. I learned a surprising amount about risk management in general on the side.
In my current job I rarely get to boat, but I’ve often thought about the similarities between minding a recently released software project and taking proper care of a wooden rowing boat. You should keep the bilge clean, treat the surfaces regularly, and occasionally some more major repairs may be necessary. Choosing a competent partner for the job helps: there’s no need to keep track of required maintenance activities yourself, and the boat (or the application, or the system…) will remain in working order without you having to worry for it – ready for adventures or leisurely rides at any time.
Sometimes a storm can sneak up on even the most experienced seafarer. Peace of mind can be reached even during those times if you’re sat next to a reliable partner who has already double-checked the correct adjustments of your life vest and ensured the oarlocks are in good condition. A professional maintenance service anticipates and prepares for bad weather on your behalf, leaving no room for distress as you are confidently rowing towards more peaceful waters – together.
In addition to meeting and working remotely, we collaborate across teams and sites routinely and steadily. Our agile and modern Service Center operations and maintenance practices are organized to ensure that no service remains a one or two person show. We arrange on-call responsibilities flexibly and distribute expertise and knowledge between teams and specialists, and our service managers ensure the quality of service in collaboration with the Service Center lead.
Our Service Center includes both system specialists and software developers, each one of them just as fluent in collaborating with customers as they are in resolving technical pickles. Our common goal in everything we do is to make sure the customer never has to wonder whether we can offer a particular type of support or whether we have expertise on a particular matter – we will take care of it for them.
What do you say, could we bring you some peace of mind, too?
Service Center Lead
Hey, you summer applicant! Do you want to hear the experiences of our last year summer employees? Alan, Ossian and Tommi will tell you how the summer recruitment process went and what happened after that. And sorry for the spoiler, but in the end, there are also their tips for applying to Gofore. Check those too!
Who are you?
Alan: Heyo, I’m Alan. I’m working as a UX designer, currently improving our own Slack bots intended to help goforeans. Study-wise, I’ve been in Information Networks at Aalto University since 2016 and look to finish my Bachelors’ degree soon (I promise). Before coming to Gofore, I had very little work experience, most of my strengths were gathered by self-learning via YouTube tutorials and own projects.
Ossian: Hey I’m Ossian, a junior software developer working on one of Gofore’s internal bots, Granny. In September I moved to Helsinki and started pursuing a master’s degree in computer science at Aalto University. At the time of applying to Gofore though, I was living in Turku and finishing up my bachelor’s degree in information and communication technology (in Finnish ‘tietotekniikka’) at the University of Turku. I’ve also previously studied and worked in the U.S. but prior to Gofore I hadn’t yet had a tech job on Finnish soil.
Tommi: Howdy! I’m Tommi and I’m working as a Software developer developing our internal chatbots. I study Computer Science at Aalto University as a master’s student. Previously I have worked as a summer trainee for a couple of summers in different companies.
Why did you apply for a summer job at Gofore?
Alan: I saw a summer job ad in the Athene’s (Information Networks guild) recruitment letter. The whole application concept seemed unique, so I decided to look more into the company behind it. The more I read about Gofore, the more I started to fancy it. I thought to myself that even if I don’t get in if I get to the hackathon, I gain a project for my portfolio during the application process and can show that to my benefit while applying elsewhere. So, there was no way I’d lose applying to Gofore.
Ossian: I had never heard of Gofore before applying and if wasn’t for my sister, I would have missed the opening. She had spotted Gofore’s ad and told me about it. What had really caught her eye, was that instead of traditional interviews or coding tests, Gofore was organizing a one-day hackathon. I figured that even if I wouldn’t be offered a job, just participating in the hackathon would be a valuable and fun experience in itself (and I’d get free food) and thus worth my time regardless of the outcome. Additionally, I was happy to see that Gofore had an office also in Turku so I could potentially enjoy summer in my college town before moving to the Helsinki area to continue my studies.
Tommi: Gofore seemed an interesting company to work for as I had heard good things about the company before applying. Gofore also had an interesting hiring process for summer employees last year and I wanted to showcase my skills in a hackathon.
What was the application process like?
Alan: It was really straightforward. This year’s summer job hackathon felt more like an opportunity to learn and put my skills into practice. The only interview I attended was held during the hackathon and it was kept really short. The hackathon itself was a nice way to get to know goforeans and other applicants as well. The hackathon was held on a Saturday and the following week on Thursday I got a happy call that I was offered a summer job, so I was very pleased with the speed of the application process as well.
Ossian: Going into the hackathon I was extremely nervous. We had been instructed to pick a few interesting data sets from avoindata.fi but otherwise I had no idea what we would be doing. However, once I had met my group and we started planning our project, I was able to relax, and my focus shifted from getting the job to getting our product to work. After about eight hours of hammering away at our keyboards, we got to admire everyone’s final products as well as to just hang out for a few hours with each other and some current employees that had spent the day with us. That was both a relaxing way to end a pretty intense day and a good opportunity to learn more about Gofore and goforeans.
Tommi: It was different compared to other companies as there was no pre-assignment. I only had to send my application and spend one Saturday at a hackathon at Gofore’s office in Kamppi. The hackathon day was a super nice event and it also helped me to get to know the company better. Less than a week after the hackathon I already got a call offering me a summer job that I happily accepted.
How was starting out?
Alan: I didn’t have a project ready for me to hop into right away, so in the first week I mainly tried to get to know Gofore and goforeans. After a week I had the opportunity to help in an internal project interviewing goforeans regarding our feedback culture. Tea Latvala told me in the first meeting something along the lines of: We’re going to have the first interviews in two days, you’ll be the interviewer and I’ll take notes. I was really nervous and anxious to jump straight into something that isn’t my forté, but at the same time, it felt nice to be trusted from the get-go.
Ossian: I started at the Turku office in early May and I was quickly given a new internal project to develop on my own. Gofore has some chatbots that are used internally to replace middle management and to automate boring and repetitive tasks such as reporting work hours. I was given the task to both designs and implement a new internal chatbot that would answer any questions that goforeans are frequently asking. I didn’t really have any prior experience of chatbot design or development or natural language processing so to start I spent some time reading both design articles and documentation for the chatbot tool Dialogflow as well as messing around with the development tools.
Tommi: Starting was made easy and comfortable. The first day was spent getting to know the company and its culture better. I was assigned immediately to an internal project. It was nice that from the very beginning I was considered as a fully-fledged team member and not just a summer employee.
What else did you do this summer?
Alan: After the project with Tea, I had the opportunity to help in another customer interview project for a private customer. For the majority of my summer, I spent time with a public sector client doing UX in a large team. I learned how to use Sketch and picked up tons of small tips and tricks from co-workers every day. In hindsight, it was really nice that I got to work on an internal project, for a private sector client and also for the public sector, because I gained brief experience on all sides.
Ossian: Since I worked on the FAQ bot, I spent most of my summer asking a lot of questions and then teaching those, as well as the answers to the bot as well as writing a Node backend for the bot. However, I got to also utilise my other skills as I helped a colleague by editing a video and took some photos of summer employee day activities and created some graphics for marketing our bots at the Shift Business festival where I got to represent Gofore with my colleagues.
Tommi: As I stated before I developed our internal chatbots. It has been a nice project to start with and I have learned a lot during the summer. I never thought that building a chatbot could be this complex and interesting project.
What makes Gofore a good summer employer?
Alan: As a junior employee, it’s nice to be valued and trusted as an equal contributor from day one. During the summer I was trusted with three different projects and had full support throughout. I feel like I could ask anyone for help, and they’d give it gladly. I came in as a narrow UI oriented student and by the end of summer felt like a more capable UX designer having gained skills outside of my small comfort zone.
Ossian: First I was surprised by how much freedom I was given and how much trust was placed in me, but once I got used to it, I’ve been loving it. Still, I’m not alone in my work and have found help and support when I’ve needed it. Also, it’s great to be surrounded by people in a variety of different roles: service, UX and UI designers, data scientists, service architects, developers… And though I’m primarily a developer, I’m not limited by my role and love that I’ve been able to sneak bits of graphics design and photography into my work.
Tommi: Gofore offers a great place to improve your skills and learn new things as well. You are valued as an individual and you get to work in the same projects as the regular employees. Also, one of Gofore’s values is that “Gofore is a great workplace.” and it really shows in everyday life. You get help from others when you need it and having a break over a game of pool or table football gets your mind off work problems for a moment. Gofore also encourages people to spend time on their personal development which is a big plus.
What skills and experience that you have helped get the job and do well?
Alan: My studies in the Information Networks program are a huge asset. With more of a generalist education, I can use my broad studies to my benefit when discussing decisions and justifying them with multiple viewpoints. More concretely what helped me to get the summer job was that I learned Adobe Xd through YouTube tutorials and made a mobile app prototype for my application. The prototype was hacked together in two evenings and in the end, didn’t even work properly, but I think it showed my eagerness to learn and actually use and show the things I’ve learned. Having done two or three own projects made me more confident in my abilities.
Ossian: Obviously, I can only guess what got me to the hackathon and then hired. Maybe it was the personal projects I included in my resume to make up for my limited work experience. To keep this recent and interesting (and to not just list my Github highlights) I added a few sillier things such as this running CSS dinosaur.
It’s a cliché, but I’ve always been curious and loved learning and asking questions and that was exactly what I did this summer. And since developing a chatbot is as much a design job as development work, having the ability to put me in the user’s shoes was really instrumental.
Tommi: I think the most important skill is a willingness to learn. Working as a software developer is constantly learning and you are never ready. Of course, it helps if you know a thing or two about software development beforehand. Another key skill that I think is required is communication. You must be able to communicate your thoughts within your team clearly. Doing school projects and personal development projects help me to become a better programmer and they look good in your portfolio.
Here are some tips for you when applying to Gofore:
- If you don’t have many projects to show, making something small for your application is a great way to start. You learn a thing or two along the way and show your skills doing so.
- Be honest and believe in yourself. We are hundreds of individuals and no one is “perfect” or “normal” whatever that means so just be yourself and know that’s more than enough. You can do it!
- When attending the workshop, focus on the task at hand and how you can do the best you can as a group. It’s understandable to want to show off your skills, but don’t do it at the cost of your group’s success. After all, work-life is most of the time, about teamwork and excelling as a team rather than about flexing your muscles.
- Related to a previous point, especially for summer jobs, your “soft skills” such as communication and teamwork skills and ability and eagerness to learn are more important than specific technical skills. So rather than trying to show off what you know now, demonstrate that you are willing and able to learn.
- The projects you add to your resumé or portfolio don’t need to be huge or complex. Including some smaller and more recent projects show your more recent skills and that you’re constantly learning.
It’s already time to plan summer 2020. Apply for a summer job at Gofore in summer 2020 ➡️➡️ https://gofore.com/ketterastikesatoihin/.
The new wave of design and development companies are basically all about culture. Their whole identity, what they are and want to be, is based on shared values, norms and the way of viewing the world. Not only do these companies involve people in all of their decision-making, they also create and renew their vision through social interaction. The culture is construed and renewed in social encounters through language, Denken ist Sprechen. This also applies to micro cultures such as work communities.
But how do companies manage, when pressure comes to change the language?
Out of ‘local’ and into ‘international’
Leadin was still an infant company when we agreed our strategy to become an internationally significant UX agency. We were only about 10 people in the small town of Tampere, Finland, but many of us had our professional background in global companies. We saw that the business for high-end UX services in Finland was going to be limited, and we were not the only ones out there. So we would be better off looking at the bigger markets outside our national borders. The collaboration with our international clients had given us very positive indications that we have something unique to offer. We were hungry to get ourselves out of exclusively ‘local’ and into ‘international’.
First, we started a more active collaboration with the non-Finnish branches of the international client companies we already had. Then we got our first “real” foreign client through the traditional way (you know someone who introduces you to someone else who realises that you are offering something valuable, and off you go), then we got the second, then the third. It started to make sense to set up our first office outside of Finland, close to the client. Once our UK office was established we soon started to find ways to utilise our multisite presence as an asset that adds value to our clients in all locations. For example, as we now have offices in Finland, the UK and Germany, we can repeat a user study in three countries and three languages without hiring an external research agency to support us. All of a sudden we realised that we actually, REALLY had become an international company.
A common company language
Today Leadin operates in four countries. Our staff represent about ten nationalities from Brazil to China and from Denmark to the USA. We speak almost ten different languages, but English is the one that’s common to all.
At a certain point, companies have to ask themselves which one is more important: The culture built on communication in the local language or the opportunities provided by international clients and more diverse markets. Being inclusive to international employees, clients and partners requires you to be able to communicate with them fluently in a language they feel familiar with. You don’t set up a site abroad without an explicit or implicit take on how to deal with the language. But how would foreign employees and language affect the company culture? Turning all speech and writing into a non-native language challenges the very fundaments of the company and community.
Respect people and listen
So what would be the impact? Could we survive? That question can sound intimidating, but the answer is revealing: If everyone’s on board, changing the language actually does not weaken the culture, it strengthens it. You’re going to be well off simply by being faithful to the values you already have. Respect people, listen to them, give them the power to find their own way.
For Leadin this happened somewhat naturally. Getting the first non-Finnish employee on board was, and was not a big change. It was a big change because we had to wipe away the rust from our English small talk skills. It was not a big change because we had already practised our English skills with some of our clients and in other contexts. Everyone in Finland speaks ‘ok’ English, even those who think they don’t. What has become evident, however, is that the pros of adopting English as our company language have exceeded the cons by a million times!
It’s all positive!
Here are just some of the advantages: We are more alluring than other companies for non-native employees in our country, who may be for example university graduates with huge potential, but no access to the local job market because of the language handicap. We can offer international careers to our team. If someone doesn’t want to relocate, we can offer them natural situations to practice their language skills in their current location. This builds self-confidence for social situations. We can all learn from different cultures, and expand our understanding of the world around us. And business-wise: We are more capable of understanding clients and partners from different cultures, and we understand how to do business with them.
I am often asked the question about how foreign employees and language has affected our company culture. My answer: It’s all positive! Cultural diversity opens viewpoints and opportunities you wouldn’t even have thought about, without taking anything away from what you already had. The change is easier than you would think, but it won’t happen without a bit of effort from all involved.
This post was written by Topi who helps inspire #LeadinCrew to make people’s lives better through everything we do regardless of their culture or native language.
We have a diverse range of people working at Leadin – meet three of our newest dudes in the software team. Jaakko, Olli and Ville all joined within the last year.
Your career path is your choice not defined by your degree
Hi, I’m Jaakko and I currently work as a front end developer at Leadin. I am also studying a major in Industrial Engineering and Management and a minor in Software Engineering at Tampere University of Technology (TUT). Whilst working at Leadin I will complete my final course and write my masters thesis within the next year .
I work as a front end developer and I was attracted to the company by the user experience approach to software solutions which focusses on the end users rather than simply coding. I consider myself as a highly visual person and this way of doing things really suits me.
One of the best things about working at Leadin is the size of the company. We are currently just over 50 people distributed in several locations including Finland, Germany and the UK. This means that I get to know everyone in the office and we have a great atmosphere. We have a flat structure with very little hierarchy so we all work as one team.
Where do I see myself in three years time? Wow I’d use the cliché that ‘anything can happen’. If I keep learning new things at the current pace then I really don’t know what could happen! For me this is a big positive.
If I could give advice to students still in university, I would say ‘follow your own interests’. Sometimes you need to change your focus if you want to achieve your desires. This is what happened to me in my first year at TUT when I realised that I wanted to work in the software industry.
Your degree does not define what you can do – your career path is your choice not defined by your university degree. For me a series of conscious decisions turned me into more of a software guy rather than an economic management one. These decisions were some of the best I have ever made!
I get to work on a wide range of projects
Cheers I’m Olli and I also work in Leadin’s software team – I did a few years of majoring in natural sciences at TUT before studying software engineering. I complimented my studies with industrial engineering and management as minor studies. I am still studying and trying to decide on the title for my masters thesis. At Leadin our software team work on everything from back end to front end design and user experience. My technical interests are more on the back end but I also enjoy the opportunity to work across other aspects of software design and development.
During my studies I participated in a project on Virtual Reality and innovative market design that was run by Leadin. This was really interesting and spiked my interest – we were actually nominated as the best project group by our peers. The guys from Leadin were great and I realised that this was a forward looking and innovative company and it looked like a great place to work. I was right! At Leadin I get to work on a wide range of projects and I get support from colleagues with expertise in different areas of software engineering and UX. Recently I have been given responsibility for a major project working as a full stack developer with a really interesting customer and product.
At Leadin I am gaining experience and learning to manage major projects with multiple new technologies. I love this and I hope that I can be part of development far into the future. Looking back, I wish I had picked my minor subjects earlier as I would have liked to have had some cross-professional insights during my software related studies.
My advice to students graduating this year would be to make contact with as many companies as possible and not just the obvious ones that directly relate to your studies. Maintain these contacts even if the company doesn’t currently have open positions as it will benefit you if you have a contact at the company when a position related to your experience opens.
Remember that it is people who do business and not companies
Hi, I’m Ville and I studied software engineering at Helsinki Polytechnic Stadia which is now known as Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences or Metropolia for short. I’m a programmer and my passion is developing high end, high quality software using the latest tools and techniques. This is exactly what the team at Leadin do and in a growth company with a fresh and warm atmosphere and great people. I really feel part of the team and that I can make a difference. I have the support of strong and skilful colleagues who are pushing through and solving challenges.
I’m looking forward to continuing to learn new software techniques and always developing high quality and expert software solutions. My advice to students graduating this year is to remember that it is people who do business and not companies, build your networks and always remember the who alongside the what.
If you are graduating this year and would like to join Jaakko, Olli and Ville then build your network of contacts by getting in touch or contacting any one of our team in Finland, Germany or the UK.