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Different is equal

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Let’s imagine a utopian world, where perfect equality would rule over working life. A situation, where men and women, majorities and minorities, young and old, would all be in equal position in labor market. Where nobody would be discriminated for irrelevant details in terms of expertise. Where everybody would have an opportunity to live out their professional dream identity. What if this was not just a utopia?

When values and action point to different directions

One of working life’s contradictions concerns respecting difference and providing equal opportunities to all the applicants despite their background. Social Psychology has researched prejudices and discrimination in many different ways, for instance the contradiction between implicit and explicit attitudes and values and action in practice. Many companies promote equality in their public facing activities, but actual job search and recruitment experiences speak against them in practice. There is a commitment to the values of equality, parity and diversity on the internet pages of the companies, but in practice applicants that differ from mainstream may stay in the shadows.

According to Helsingin Sanomat (31.10.2018) Finnish, professionally successful celebrities tested their labor market value by applying to vacancies with their own résumés with Roma names, they did not receive even one invitation to an interview. Contradictory, right? Often it is not about conscious discrimination, companies might truly imagine that they act according to their values, but they end up unconsciously, time after time, favoring applicants representing certain profile at the cost of other applicants. In addition, one of the most interesting contradictions is reverse discrimination, when one group is being favored specifically because of the fear of stigma of discrimination.

From prejudices and discrimination towards appreciating difference

The contradictions of working life have to be acknowledged so that they can be solved. Some companies have tried for example anonymous recruitment to minimize the effect of prejudice and discrimination. Getting rid of prejudices and discrimination should, however, happen consciously by seeing all the applicants in a light that they professionally deserve as unique individuals. Sex, ethnic background, age or other demographic factor should be totally secondary factors when applying for jobs.

Unfortunately, perfect equality still does not exist, but every person working with recruitment should start looking at their company’s recruitment policy and culture from this point of view. Surely some tasks require for example flawless language skills, and the lack of them would logically explain the lack of proceeding in the recruitment process. But sex, ethnic background or age are in no way tied to this. If other requirements are equal for two different applicants, the quality of work does not differ in any way whether the applicant chosen to the job represents male or female sex, Finnish, French or Zimbabwean ethnic background or lower or higher extremity of the age range. We can only hope that someday companies will act authentically and consciously according to their outward communicated values.

At Wannado values meet practice

At Wannado we strive to choose for each position the most competent applicants without giving weight to irrelevant factors like sex, ethnic background or age. For us difference is richness, everyone is different in their own way, and different is equal. Would you fit as a part of Wannado’s open community, representing and highlighting authentic equality, diversity and freedom? If your answer is yes, check out the selection of our international open vacancies at https://wannado.fi/en/recruitment/ or send us your open application emphasizing your positive difference via e-mail to recruitment@wannado.fi ! We are waiting for you!

Writer
Kaisa Piipponen
#SuperAssistant of HR, Recruitment and Communication

Wannado’s SuperAssistants are true freedom fighters and problem solvers of the business world. SuperAssistants are not bound to any time or place, and can work remotely, flexibly, and cleverly. Irina Viitala and Anna Degerholm founded the multitasker team, Wannado Ltd, in 2011. Today, Wannado has over 30 experts in the fields of marketing, digitalization, event production, and general office & assistant work. #SuperAssistants

positiivinen_ilmapiiri_tehokkuus_ystavallisyys_wannado_superassarit

Positive atmosphere, motivation and efficiency go hand in hand

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“A genuinely motivated, professional and happy personnel is one of the biggest and most remarkable resources in working life.” 

I have strived to demonstrate the meaning of positive atmosphere described in the citation above when applying for jobs. My aim has been as well to proceed with the recruitment processes with the companies that share my values and to avoid proceeding with companies that don’t. I have continued to highlight the importance of the matter by asking questions during interviews regarding to the atmosphere of the working community and interpreted carefully the answers I received.

When starting in a new working place I have my antennas up so I can perceive the general feel of the atmosphere. The atmosphere of a company affects decisively to my decision to commit to a working community. I prospered in one of my previous working places so well, that I did not even try to apply the jobs relevant to my actual career for a long time, even though the job I was doing then did not match up with my long-term plans and dreams. Feeling good in the working place is, at least for me, as important, or even more important than nature of the job itself.

Positive feedback motivates me a lot and I believe that many working communities would feel better, if giving positive feedback would be the rule rather than an exception. Positive feedback can be given without a big reason. It can be given for all those little things that come to mind about your colleagues. Of course, there is a time and place for the constructive feedback as well. There is though a clear difference between constructive and negative feedback. Constructive feedback aims to enable a positive change, while negative feedback focuses only on what has gone wrong. Positive feedback can be used to motivate the employees to outdo themselves again and again. Therefore, I claim that positive feedback can lead to far better consequences than even constructive criticism.

Let’s imagine the two different sides of a coin, positive and negative feedback and the grey area between them, constructive feedback. I have got to know each and every one of them in one way or another, directly or indirectly and I can tell that every single time my motivation has taken a hit, in good or in a bad way. Think back to one personal experience each of these kinds of feedback. Does your experience match mine?

”From my point of view, positive atmosphere consists of open, approving and encouraging working community, where everyone can flourish in a way that serves best their personal know-how and interests. The quality of the feedback affects efficiency and the results because the key of success hides in the labyrinth of motivation.” 

My intuition told me good things about Wannados’ atmosphere and culture from the beginning and I could not have been more right. I have now worked for about a month and half at Wannado and I have received more positive feedback than ever before, even though I have always felt that I have received a lot of positive feedback of the work I have done. We have on Wannados’ internal communication tool a channel dedicated to positive feedback, where the success of #SuperAssistants is constantly highlighted. I gathered together a few examples of the positive feedback I have received so far:

”The Marketing Assistant announcement is totally brilliant, let’s put it live!”

”I looked at your introduction text and I was like WOW – You really have the talent with the words.”

”In the field of HR, Kaisa has proved to be really sharp, wonderful, smart and self-determining team member with clear communication skills!”

”I give roses to this weeks’ special savers. You all are SUPER.”

”Great girls you are awesome!”

When was the last time you received positive feedback for your work? And when was the last time you gave positive feedback to someone else’s success? I throw you a challenge of positive feedback. How you could cheer up your colleagues’, employers’ or employees’ day? Imagine someone in your community that you see in a positive light. How would you describe them and their input? Tell them. The ball is in your court.

Author
Kaisa Piipponen
#SuperAssistant of HR, Recruitment and Communication

Wannado’s SuperAssistants are true freedom fighters and problem solvers of the business world. SuperAssistants are not bound to any time or place, and can work remotely, flexibly, and cleverly. Irina Viitala and Anna Degerholm founded the multitasker team, Wannado Ltd, in 2011. Today, Wannado has over 30 experts in the fields of marketing, digitalization, event production, and general office & assistant work. #SuperAssistants

Robotit tulee ja vie meidän miehet ja työt wannado

The robots are coming to take our jobs, and our men

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I would like to automate my work. In fact, I studied how to do it for hours without really getting anywhere.

However, on Saturday I coded my first software bot. It can do easy, repetitive and routine tasks for me, which I can’t be bothered to do. True, the robot I built on Saturday cannot help me in my real work, but I can now create a genuinely useful automated tool.

Robotic Process Automation is a silly phrase, but at the same time very common in this area of technology; it is scary, valuable and strange. Coding and software development can feel like a secretive field: in order to even ask for advice, you have to understand a lot and feel at home in virtual places that are hard to understand and to access. Thus, the self-study of robotic process automation is particularly difficult, especially when you lack the time, the language, and the equipment.

However, as a leader of a company that provides assistant services, I must remain involved in all aspects of work life. Already many routine work tasks have already been automated, and a huge amount of human work has replaced by automation, robots and artificial intelligence. We can either just look on as the need for our work fades away, or we can strive to understand the changes that are happening and help our customers to change with the times. We must acquire the know-how and professionalism that our customers will need to make that change successfully.

But it is difficult to study, with the rush of the holidays and a growing company to runtime is already so limited, and the world of automation is so strange!

Fortunately, we have visionaries in this world. In this case, they are found at the Software and e-business association, which understood an essential problem: too few coders are women. Thus, the association’s Milja Köpsi and Rasmus Roiha came up with a way to tackle this problem in a concrete way: they invited IT firms to provide coding training for adult women! This resulted in the magnificent #mimmitkoodaa (#chickscode) project that now involves thousands of women interested in coding and dozens of software companies. This is how I too came to receive useful and free training on robotic process automation. A great thank you to the company, Knowit Suomi Oy, for providing the training.

Of course, I was a bit anxious at first: install Python 3.7, Robot Framework and Selenium library. Although the instructions were clear, the completely strange programs, words and operating systems made me feel awkward. It’s difficult when you are left alone to try and understand completely a foreign language. Luckily, on Saturday, I had the company of 25 other eager-to-learn people, and through peer support and skilled teaching, we all got our robots to work. And at the same time, I learned where to get support in the future. The frightening foreign world now a little less frightening.

To help with my own work, I first plan to automate the onboarding of new employees: providing them with access to all the different software and accounts that are needed at our firm. After that, my bot may learn to close an employee’s accounts when they leave the company. Even though I’m not going to spend a lot of my time focusing on coding software bots, through this training I’ve gained a solid understanding of what can and should not be automated and how to do it. I already feel much better prepared to meet the challenges of the next few decades.

How will you prepare for the future?

Author
Anna Degerholm
Partner, HR Director, Wannado Oy

The purpose of the #Mimmitkoodaa project is to encourage women interested in the software sector to learn coding and gain employment in the software industry.

Wannado’s SuperAssistants are true freedom fighters and problem solvers of the business world. SuperAssistants are not bound to any time or place, and can work remotely, flexibly, and cleverly. Irina Viitala and Anna Degerholm founded the multitasker team, Wannado Ltd, in 2011. Today, Wannado has over 30 experts in the fields of marketing, digitalization, event production, and general office & assistant work. #SuperAssistants

Growth Hacking

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Around a week ago I had the honour of participating in a 2-day Growth Hacking Crash Course organized by Growth Tribe. Crash course undeniably is an appropriate term for a course after which I fell asleep at 8pm, at the same time as my 8-month-old baby and slept for 12 hours in a row. The intense two-day familiarization with the world of growth hacking was certainly tiring. On waking up the next morning I immediately told my colleagues and bosses that we had a lot of work to do. The course led me to ideas for our customers and Wannado in the same way that free buckets lead Finns to queue.

According to Wikipedia, Growth Hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing funnel, product development, sales segments, and other areas of the business to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business. This admittedly mouthful of a sentence captures the essence of growth hacking quite well. The growth hacker’s aim is to get a company to grow quickly by using low cost and fast experiments to find out the best way to to get the company’s message to the right target audience.

A growth hacker considers the entirety of a customer’s relationship with the company and uses (often quite technical) means to influence it. From identifying target groups to raising customer awareness, from influencing buying decisions to encouraging referrals and return purchases.

During the first day, when the principles and concepts of growth hacking were being discussed (at very rapid pace), I realized that my current working methods already use a lot of the ideas. And that my colleagues and really the whole of Wannado  already function a lot like growth hackers! One of our most important messages is that marketing does not have to be expensive and slow to be effective. The more expensive, complicated and slower the process, the less likely it will be beneficial – especially if you consider how many resources the whole process can take.

Fast design, development, testing, and implementation is common in the world of software development, and Growth Hacking is especially popular among software start-ups. It does not, however, mean that a bigger and more established company (for example in the construction field) could not benefit from this way of thinking. We strongly believe in this way of doing business at Wannado – and we act on it. We get a lot to done for our customers and the price tag does not have to be five, or even four, digits.

During the second day of training day, we did more practical exercises and were able to test dozens of tools chosen by Growth Tribe. The net is crowded with a whole world of different software, and it can be very time consuming to try and find just the right one for your purpose. The top-20 list of best tools I received at the training is very valuable in itself, and I now use many of these tools daily. Through the practical training I gained more insight into both the Growth Hacking principles and myself; only rarely does it makes sense to invest a great deal of time in an idea before finding out if it even works.

During the first few hours of training, the tutors made a bold claim: “When you go home from this course you will have up to 20 different cost-effective ideas to increase your companies visibility.” I was obviously initially very sceptical, but by Tuesday night I had about a dozen ideas I could put into practice. Inspired by all I had learned, I set about implementing them, both for us and our customers.

This blog is not written in collaboration with Growth Tribe. All the opinions are my own.

Interested in growth hacking, or want to discuss these ideas further? Send me a message at nina@wannado.fi or through LinkedIn.

Author
Nina Toivonen
Tech Lead, Project Manager

Wannado’s SuperAssistants are true freedom fighters and problem solvers of the business world. SuperAssistants are not bound to any time or place, and can work remotely, flexibly, and cleverly. Irina Viitala and Anna Degerholm founded the multitasker team, Wannado Ltd, in 2011. Today, Wannado has over 30 experts in the fields of marketing, digitalization, event production, and general office & assistant work. #SuperAssistants

private options wannado

Private opinions don’t have a place in company communication

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Sometimes it’s forgotten that private opinions and matters are not something that should or could be brought up freely at work. Especially when it comes to management and representative level, it is important to know to separate what to talk about and what not to. A manager is representing the company even as a private person. It’s well known that at the customer service and sales level the staff’s attitude affect the customer experience and therefore the company image as well. The same exact thing goes for higher levels in the company. Actually, the higher the position the more crucial it is to keep personal and work personas (and opinions) separate.

In 2006 Mike Jeffries, the CEO of an American children’s clothing company called Abercrombie & Fitch said in an interview to Salon.com that the company’s clothes are meant for skinny, beautiful and neat children. The issue arose again in 2013 when Insider wrote a blog post about it – starting a social media outrage. Consumers, popular bloggers, and influencers condemned Jeffries’ comments. Jeffries himself waited for 12 days to even comment his previous statements, and once he did, he underlined how he had just mistakenly brought his own opinions to the interview. Instead of a real apology, he murmured how the text was taken out of context and shown in a way that would raise questions.

Of course there will be questions if a CEO believes (and says) that their products are suitable for only ”the right children”, the pretty, skinny, and neat ones who others admire. At the same time, this messages that children who don’t fit the description don’t deserve nice things. Or further, one could read between the lines that according to Jeffries, only the pretty and petite children have real value – who cares what other children wear as they don’t fit the beautiful standard anyway.

After the outrage, a group of shareholders of Abercrombie & Fitch wrote a 9-page letter asking the management to not elect Mr Jeffries again. However, he was re-elected as a CEO.

This is a perfect example of what not to do when it comes to company communications and image. By choosing to let the CEO continue, the company silently agreed to what he said. Or at least that’s how it looks like.

The story unfortunately doesn’t tell how big of a loss this interview with its controversial personal statements cost for the company. I bet we are talking about millions of dollars, plus of course the hits that will still be taken in the future while the reputation is ruined.

Author
Maarit Hyvärinen
Content and illustrations #SuperAssistant at Wannado

Wannado’s SuperAssistants are true freedom fighters and problem solvers of the business world. SuperAssistants are not bound to any time or place, and can work remotely, flexibly, and cleverly. Irina Viitala and Anna Degerholm founded the multitasker team, Wannado Ltd, in 2011. Today, Wannado has over 30 experts in the fields of marketing, digitalization, event production, and general office & assistant work. #SuperAssistants

your mind and health matters

Your mind and health matters!

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Taking care of your physical and mental wellbeing might just be the single best thing you could do for yourself, your career, and for the people around you. In this regard, good management from employers means creating a healthy working culture where wellbeing and health is valued.

Mental health has lately been under discussion on media. Several campaigns and public figures have been working to remove the still-existing stigma around it. Unfortunately, in the result-driven business and work environments stress-management and mental wellbeing of employees is often overlooked.

The importance of a healthy mind is known (almost just as well as we know to eat well and exercise to get our body in-shape), but the actual steps in achieving a healthy balanced mind are not always there, especially in our work lives. People are different, so are employees – some work at their best under pressure and tight deadlines, some need reliable routines. Of course not all work is for everyone, but within many positions there is flexibility to adjust the routines and working schedule to best fit the worker. This is something employers should keep in mind – one glove doesn’t fit all!

Employers should also make sure there are recourses available to support mental health and wellbeing. If someone needs help to manage, help should be available. Providing a good medical plan and links to therapy etc. special care goes without saying. Additionally, trainings on stress-management, time-management and on creating a healthy working culture might be a small investment, but they surely will pay back over time. An open and supportive work environment takes stress seriously and handles it before the burning points occur. Burn out is no joke, and it can take long time to overcome. Sometimes it seems like it’s something almost admirable – to work so hard and to be so driven and perfectionist that the brain literally tilts and can’t function well. Yes, results are needed and it’s awesome to be driven, but the outcome is even better when employees have a healthy balance in place.

Get moving! Physical activity has been linked with better mental health and higher energy levels

It’s a known fact that physical exercise reduces stress and improves productivity and general wellbeing, strengthens the immune system and fights illnesses. It has positive effect to mental health. For employers, it’s not a bad idea to have a healthy (I mean quite literally healthy) environment where physical activity and healthy lifestyle is encouraged, admirable, and perhaps even a common goal. This could mean for example benefits such as gym memberships, healthy lunches, or sporty team building activities. Active employees might just materialise in fewer sick leaves and more driven staff. It’s a total win-win situation!

Some employers have brought physical exercise to workplace by building a gym or a yoga studio for example into the work premises – and they actually pay their employees salary for the time spent taking care of them selves. Sweet! There has even been discussion about making exercising at work compulsory.

Take your health seriously and work to improve it

If your productivity is low and you are constantly tired, it might be time to have a hard look at your routines and work environment? Are they healthy? Are you eating good nutrition and treating your body right? Is the stress manageable or is it too much to handle? Are you turning your mind off from work-related things on your free time, and doing things that make you feel good (mentally and physically)? If you feel that better time-management, stress-management and quality free time, together with a healthier lifestyle are not helping, or you struggle with a mental illness, you might benefit from professional help. Take the necessary steps – your mind and health matters!

Author
Laura Smith
Marketing and Communications #Superassistant

Wannado’s SuperAssistants are true freedom fighters and problem solvers of the business world. SuperAssistants are not bound to any time or place, and can work remotely, flexibly, and cleverly. Irina Viitala and Anna Degerholm founded the multitasker team, Wannado Ltd, in 2011. Today, Wannado has over 30 experts in the fields of marketing, digitalization, event production, and general office & assistant work. #SuperAssistants

SEO tips

SEO needs real attention – how to improve SEO?

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Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is often overlooked or at least not seen as a top priority. If no one in-house really understands it, this important aspect of marketing is often pushed aside as there is something “more urgent” on the table. But what could be more important than ensuring a good discoverability and getting new leads?

Where to start with SEO? Here are some things to consider before skipping SEO.

If you are not visible, you have already lost

In Finland alone, 30 million Google searches are done every day. EVERY DAY. Several researches suggest that approximately 90 % of people doing online searches click the results shown on the first page of Google. Many never even visit the second result page (let alone the pages after that). Knowing the fact that Google is the number one search engine and tool when searching for services and products, it’s pretty easy to assume the following: if a company is not on Google, it has in fact lost the competition.

Results don’t happen overnight

SEO aims to get the company visible on the very first page of Google with searches done using relevant keywords. As good as this sounds, let’s not get carried away and be unrealistic. It’s very unlikely to smash the competition within a few days. After the SEO actions have been implemented, it might take some months or even a full year to see some concrete results.

Improving of SEO should be seen as a continuous process rather than as a one-off project. The process includes also long-term follow-up, research, and analysing. Measurable and profitable results will follow consistent work only.

Everything influences everything

It’s good to remember that digital marketing is like a puzzle – different pieces (channels) together form a working bigger picture. All pieces are evenly important. Therefore, if you fix SEO but nothing else in your marketing, the results might not please you. Constant updates and new content on the website help with SEO. Blogging especially is a good way to help Google find your site. Every blog text is good to optimise using the trending topics and searches of the field – one blog text can this way boost the visibility of the whole company!

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the next step to take once content and technicalities of the website have been optimised. If well-planned SEO alone doesn’t bring the company on the first page on Google, paid marketing will help. Google AdWords is a SEM tool that allows you to boost yourself into the first page with relevant keywords and phrases. Just remember that relevancy is the key here – using keywords that can’t be linked to your business directly might do you more harm than good.

Keyword analysis is important!

There are at least as many Google searches as there are searchers. One needs to put themselves into the customers’ shoes, and try to find the same terms and keywords a customer would use. Some keywords are in high competition and not any amount of SEO optimising will help win them over. Then it’s better to use more specific terms that are relevant to your products and services.

People search answers to their questions online. The number of searches including questions has increased with 50% from last year. Therefore, including questions in the blog texts and in the optimisation is a good idea. See what I did with the caption of this blog post.

How to decrease SEO results – what not to do?

Things such as slow websites, repeating content, keyword and internal link stuffing might all end up getting you sanctions and lowering your Google points. Both internal and external linking is important for visibility but it’s important not to overdo it. It’s also important to ensure that the external linked sites are not suspicious – they should be reliable sources of information.

If SEO is something you want to tackle but don’t have the resources, please feel free to contact Wannado´s #SuperAssistants. We do SEO analysis and plan and execute both SEO and SEM. Get to that first page of Google now; competition is growing by the day!

Author
Minttu Manninen
Marketing and Communications #SuperAssistant at Wannado

Wannado’s SuperAssistants are true freedom fighters and problem solvers of the business world. SuperAssistants are not bound to any time or place, and can work remotely, flexibly, and cleverly. Irina Viitala and Anna Degerholm founded the multitasker team, Wannado Ltd, in 2011. Today, Wannado has over 30 experts in the fields of marketing, digitalization, event production, and general office & assistant work. #SuperAssistants

Wannado SuperAssistant Online Tools

Online tools for efficient and communicative remote work

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More and more companies are admitting the benefits of remote work and long distance communication tools. A video meeting or conference for example not only saves time but also travelling costs. It’s environment-friendlier, too, which supports today’s necessary green thinking.

What tools does a modern digital assistant (or a remote worker on any field for that matter) need? A good and safe Internet connection, a laptop, and a smart phone together work as a good starter kit. They also give access to the following options us SuperAssistants can recommend.

Asana is a nifty project management tool with various functions. Asana is pretty user-friendly and easy to handle – even for those with little technical online skills. Asana is there to make sure no task is forgotten, and that deadlines are met. Project managers and team members can add and assign tasks for each other.

Trello is also a project manager tool, perhaps a visually more inspiring one than Asana. As it’s so simple and user-friendly, many use Trello for private to-do lists and even as an online shopping list. It can be personalized and synced with Google calendar for example.

Teamwork has time tracking function on top of the basic and useful project management functions.

Slack, Teams, Workplace and Yammer are convenient communication tools for long-distance team work and communication. We use slack at Wannado – it works well on a desktop and on the Slack mobile app. Great for communication, team chats, file sharing, and even making phone calls.

Zoom is a good option for Skype – the video-calling tool that probably needs no further introduction. We have found Zoom more reliable and user friendlier when it comes to video meetings. Bear in mind however that the free membership option only includes limitless video call minutes for two people; group calls and conferences are limited to 40 free minutes.

Discord is an upcoming Skype-like conference and calling tool with communicational functions similar to those with Slack.

Google Drive and Docs are well known but cannot be left unmentioned. Docs and Sheets can be shared and edited online without the endless “save, email, edit, and save again” cycle. Google Drive is a handy free online storing space with sharing options.

Dropbox ja WeTransfer both work for transferring files to teammates or to customers. Dropbox is often used as online storage just like Google Drive.

Toggl is one option for tracking work times between different customers, projects, and tasks. There are numerous similar tools available – it all comes down to personal preferences and the nature and size of the business. For Wannado Toggl works great, and our invoices are directly based on the time tracking done with this easy-to-use tool.

LastPass Information security should be a priority for all businesses! Regulations are tightning around information security as GDPR is ready to kick in. LastPass is a secure platform to store and share passwords and login details. We highly recommend LastPass or similar service for everyone, especially those who work remotely.

To find the best choices for you, a simple trial-and-error method is the way to go. With any tool, start with a free trial and see how it works for you and if the functions meet your team’s needs. And then stick with something that works. No one wants to have 10 different places to login – that also increases the risks of tasks being lost somewhere in between too many platforms. Good luck for your online tool adventures!

Author
Tiina Kuningas
Project Manager, Marketing and Events #SuperAssistant

Wannado’s SuperAssistants are true freedom fighters and problem solvers of the business world. SuperAssistants are not bound to any time or place, and can work remotely, flexibly, and cleverly. Irina Viitala and Anna Degerholm founded the multitasker team, Wannado Ltd, in 2011. Today, Wannado has over 30 experts in the fields of marketing, digitalization, event production, and general office & assistant work. #SuperAssistants

may_the_creativity_be_with_you_wannado_superassistant

May the creativity be with you – How to master the creative flow

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Creativity and inspiration often go hand-in-hand. One can’t really force them but one can, in fact, learn them. Creativity is not only something we are or aren’t born with.

Everyone who ever tried to do some type of creative work is probably familiar with the term creative block or writer’s block. That feeling when nothing comes out and the paper stays as white as the snow. For some people, starting is the most difficult part of a creative process, for others it’s finishing as inspiration slowly fades away during the project. How to overcome a creative block? How to be over all more creative – even if it’s not something that comes naturally?

1. Don’t wait for the perfect idea, and don’t be afraid to create nonsense.

Start, start, start – even if you don’t have the perfect idea, the perfect inspiration, or the perfect situation. The most important part is to start doing something to make it all happen. Often the creative flow doesn’t start until one really gets into the process.

Don’t fall into the dangerous self-critique trap, or do the mistake of desperately wanting to create something perfect and flawless from the start. It gets better – not by waiting but actually by doing. Don’t be afraid to create nonsense while getting better at it.

2. Search inspiration. Learn.

Like any skill in life, creativity is learned by practising it. Good writers wrote a lot to get where they are at. Good photographers photographed a lot. And so on. This is not rocket science (although that is also something that is learnable with enough practise, of course).

Get familiar with others’ work. Watch videos, pictures, and art. Read books, texts and blogs. Suck information and influences – different styles and ideas. Steal inspiration and put together old ideas in new ways.

”Good artists copy. Great artists steal”

Pablo Picasso

3. Motivate yourself with goals and deadlines.

What better way to increase motivation than by having a little stress created by a closing deadline? If your project doesn’t have a set deadline or if you are doing the project just for yourself, it might be a good idea to set a deadline yourself. And stick to it as well. Let others know what you are working on and when it’s going to be done.

Work hard and precisely to make the goal happen in time. Innovate at night if you need to. Ask a friend to help bounce ideas around. Ask feedback, and learn from it.

 4. Take distance, it’s healthy.

When a creative block hits and the inspiration is gone, take a break. Don’t be afraid to take some distance and to do something else. Fill your brain with something that doesn’t allow you to think about your project at all. The project will not run away. The winning ideas will come back, don’t worry.

It often helps to change surroundings, to look for new influences, to take some air. A walk outside might be a good idea to get some much-needed oxygen and blood into that stuck brain. Once that’s all flowing, the ideas will flow as well. And then it all comes back to point one; start doing, start creating.

The surroundings are unlikely to ever get perfect. A creative master works hard and patiently, even when there is no great inspiration. Creativity is not merely a special quality that we are born with – it’s a way of working that can be learned and bettered.

Author
Laura Smith
Marketing and Communications #SuperAssistant

Wannado’s SuperAssistants are true freedom fighters and problem solvers of the business world. SuperAssistants are not bound to any time or place, and can work remotely, flexibly, and cleverly. Irina Viitala and Anna Degerholm founded the multitasker team, Wannado Ltd, in 2011. Today, Wannado has over 30 experts in the fields of marketing, digitalization, event production, and general office & assistant work. #SuperAssistants

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Meaningless work causes depression

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Johann Hari, an author of a bookLost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions”, went on a quest to find out hard answers to hard questions about depression. Hari interviewed social scientists all over the world from Sydney to São Paulo, and found one core reason for an epidemic-like depression:

Depressing work.

Humans have physical needs for food, water, shelter and clean air. But, humans also have psychological needs – the strongest one of these needs is the need to be valued. We need to feel we belong. We need to feel that we are good at something and that we are making a difference. As the majority of people spend most of their time at work, these psychological needs should be met at work.

But they are not met.

Gallup consulted employees in its survey during years 2011 – 2012. The results were sad to read; only 13% of people were engaged in their work. 63% of people were not engaged. And 24% of them were actively disengaging with their work.

In other words, 13% found their work meaningful and pleasing. 63% disliked their work and acted it through like a robot. 24% simply hated their jobs.

Roughly 87% of employees had a negative experience of their work. They didn’t find their jobs meaningful. They didn’t feel valued or belonged.

Gallup isn’t the only source reporting equivalent results. O.C Tanner Institute interviewed 2 500 employees in 2015. The survey covered Canada, Great Britain, Australia and Germany. Only one question was asked;

Are you appreciated in your workplace?

In places where the employees were appreciated, 85% of employees were happy about their life in general and 89% were happy with their work. Also, 78% of them told they had a sense of belonging at their work.

However, in the places where the employees weren’t appreciated, 61% of the employees were happy about their life in general and only 51% were happy with their work. What’s the most alarming is that only 35% said they had a sense of belonging.

The curve of negative feelings leading to profound depression between appreciated VS not appreciated was a whooping 43% at max!

In a world, which promotes workforce engaging – at least on a paper – this neglect towards workforce’s happiness is very alarming. Disengaged employees don’t just cause problems to society as increased healthcare expenses (such as sick leaves) but also to companies. Losses from disengaged, unhappy employees are counted in billions each year. In Finland, a country of 5 million inhabitants, losses of disengaged workforce are 25 billion Euros annually.

Just like Hari had found out during his own quest, the need of being valued and having a sense of belonging are extremely important to people. Without them, a person is in danger to slide into depression – and, when the majority of an average person’s waking life is spent at work, the work itself should answer to these profound and primal needs.

The easiest way to increase the sense of belonging and value at work is to let the employees have autonomy over their work. This can be done in multiple ways; let them decide where they want to work and how they want to work as long as the deadlines are met with a quality results. Provide them with remote work options, different working environments and also with the possibility to decide their own vacations, or for example call in for a sick leave when they are ill without any extra hassle. The more freedom the employees are given, the more it promotes trust and sense of “I’ve got this!” Many studies have also shown that unlike employers’ suspect, the employees won’t violate the given freedom. Quite the opposite: When employees feel valued, appreciated and needed they are more engaged. And the more engaged they are, the less they want to do any “bad stuff” – they rather keep the earned trust. They contribute to better results for a greater good of the company, and will be more flexible than the employees who are treated like nothing.

Tell the employees when they have done a good job and appreciate their good qualities. It can be as simple as saying “Thank you for handling this email quickly” or “You were great with the customer yesterday” or “You are so good at doing this thing X!” Nothing promotes a sense of belonging and being valued more than hearing small positive and supportive things from the superiors, bosses and co-workers.

Curing and preventing depression can sometimes be this easy.

Author
Maarit Hyvärinen
Content and illustrations #SuperAssistant at Wannado

Wannado’s SuperAssistants are true freedom fighters and problem solvers of the business world. SuperAssistants are not bound to any time or place, and can work remotely, flexibly, and cleverly. Irina Viitala and Anna Degerholm founded the multitasker team, Wannado Ltd, in 2011. Today, Wannado has over 30 experts in the fields of marketing, digitalization, event production, and general office & assistant work. #SuperAssistants