Published: 2021-09-15 14:57 | Updated: 2021-09-21 13:29

KI Biobank about flexible working -advice and lessons learned

We asked three managers at KI Biobank about the main lessons they take away from last year.

Mark Divers, Head of Office; James Thompson, Head of Unit Biobanken Lab; Sanela Kjellqvist, Head of Unit Kund & IT

What are your key learnings from the pandemic concerning collaboration, leadership and remote working?

Mark:

Wow! We can make it work. It wasn’t the working life disaster we feared. Everybody pulled together to make it work. Getting the delicate balance right for remote leadership was trick, but a worthwhile experience. The HR webinars on this were very helpful (the ones Matilda D organized with Habitude). I learnt a lot from listening to other managers’ insights.

Sanela:

Collaboration and leadership have different challenges when working remote. It is much easier to miss information for everyone. Therefore it is crucial not to jump into conclusions, but ask and check facts. Important from leadership perspective to work strategically with unity and remind everyone about the point above. It is also even more important to be clear in our communication as leaders.

James:

I have been working onsite throughout the pandemic. The lab team was divided into two groups that were alternating between working on site for a week and working remotely for a week. The idea being that if one team caught Covid, the other team would be able to keep the lab operations going. The biggest impact that this had was that lab staff frequently met physically and had lunch and coffee breaks together so avoided the isolation that many fully remote staff across the KI have reported.

How do you plan and prepare to adjust to a post pandemic working environment and working routines and to make use of your learnings from the pandemic?

Mark:

Cautious return to the work-place. We just discussed this at a department meeting. I want to involve the staff as much as possible in how we do that step-wise. Great that KI is giving us a framework for flexible working. We’ll need to upgrade meeting rooms for better av quality to enable hybrid meetings. My dream is that all staff will be motivated by having a bit more freedom in how they do their work.

Sanela:

It is important to involve all team members in planning return to office. Listen to everyone’s views and questions. We also need good equipment in order to make hybrid meetings as smooth as possible.

James:

As we get back to normal, the lab group will return onsite, however, some project work may give the opportunity to work remotely from time to time which I think staff will appreciate.

What are your experience and thoughts on hybrid meetings?

Mark:

I believe we need to improve the audiovisual technology to ensure that those participating remotely are not at a disadvantage. This also need more active chairing so that everyone’s voice is heard. We have to try it and see whether we can make it work.

Sanela:

Hybrid meetings work well but are dependent on good technical equipment.

James:

Not everything has to be decided at the same meeting. Big discussions can be spread over a couple of meetings and not everything needs to be decided then and there.

Tips and advises you would like to share?

Be open-minded for the new possibilities and solutions; share experience with others!