I never thought my remote working experience in over 15 years in Nokia would become extremely relevant in 2020/’21 for many other people around the world.

At my current job I was encouraged to write this blog post which I hope will also inspire people as part of the NokiaPeople community. So here it comes…I just added a few explanatory details, to be seen in brackets ().

Office ‘buddies’ in the online world

During a recent virtual Townhall at my workplace in a global corporation, we were all challenged to come up with ideas how we can help each other to lower stress levels among our colleagues, which is a certainly needed approach in these kind of exceptional times we currently live in. My idea came to my mind almost immediately. I think the idea had lingered already for a longer time and was just waiting for the right person to ask me about it.

I posted it as requested in Menti (a service which allows to leave comments/questions in an anonymous way to the presenter) and I just heard that our VP HR liked the idea so much that he had shared it with everyone in the 2nd Townhall in the afternoon. Bless his heart for doing so 🙂

If you are super busy and you just want to know the idea, just scroll down to the end of the text.

But if you are curious to learn more on how 15 years of remote working experience (in Nokia) and my wish to make people smile as well as my genuine interest in all the people I meet at work led to my idea, please keep on reading.

Almost 17 years ago, I was working in a company (called Nokia) which introduced a chat tool for communication across work colleagues. It helped me to improve my ‘10 finger blind typing’ skills tremendously and opened up a completely new level of fast and direct collaboration. Through the next 8 years, I was able to interact, collaborate and succeed together with people all over the world. From a simple laptop back in Germany, I was able to ‘knock’ on the virtual office door of everyone around the world.

This became an especially critical work asset in 2008 when I started a global job, which required close collaboration with a colleague in Sydney, Australia on a daily basis. Chatting became our second nature and we even found nicknames for each other “Miss E!” & “Miss V!”. 

This became our way to check in whether the other person was online, working and open for a work related chat. Keep in mind that we were separated by a 10 hours time difference and had 16.561km between us. Also the network quality was not good enough for video calls during those days. During a really tough global deployment we also started using emojis to support each other’s well-being at work. A virtual smile is almost as good as a real one if you meet only three times in person over two years.

When your work is mainly happening remotely for many years, you start to value and cherish every chance you get to meet people face to face. This might have played a role in my habit which I developed over the years: To bring chocolate with me on every business trip, to walk up to every desk and offer it to everyone I met with a big smile. This might also explain why I’m currently  known as the Chocolate Angel 🙂

To end where I started, here it comes the spontaneous idea to lower stress level:

If the people you are usually sitting next to at the office are not work colleagues, just reach out to him/her and ask how they are doing. You can also do this via chat or plan a remote coffee break with Google Meet (or any other virtual meeting tool in use) and have your cameras on. 🙂

Let’s make sure we take care of each other as we are all colleagues after all! 

Verena

p.s. If you feel a piece of chocolate or a ‘well-being check through chat’ won’t make a difference, I recommend a new book to read. It is full of similar examples and a wide range of scientific studies confirming that “Anyone in any job can make a meaningful difference”. The book from Bea Boccalandro is called “Do good at work – How Simple Acts of Social Purpose Drive Success and Wellbeing”.