How does Finlabs react to the new normal?
The time has finally come that we are allowed to return to our beloved office in Oulu. But we are not beyond the concerns and problems to deal with and to react to, thanks to the Coronavirus.
After months (that feel like years) we are all keen to get back to where we can collaborate, whiteboard ideas, talk through issues, and generally work as a cohesive team again. Video chats, virtual coffee breaks, even team workouts over zoom, have all helped and our team has never lost its connective tissue and team spirit that makes Finlabs such a great place to work.
However, we are well aware that this ability to return to our office is not a switch to be flipped on that results in everything being back to the way it was. We still need to be cautious. We still need to be vigilant. And we still need to enforce some restrictions around our working environment to ease back to the way things were.
We have an ever-growing team in Oulu. Even while restrictions have been in place we hired on a number of new faces and grew larger. Now pushing 30+ people in the team, we cannot maintain a safe work environment if we all rolled back into the office all at once. So…
How do we make it easy for us, and our team, to manage and monitor office attendance?
Finlabs being Finlabs, we react to a challenge. A relatively simple ask is met with an equally simple solution built in a day thanks to Finlabs founder and CFO/COO, Mikael Häkkilä. Yes, you read that right, CFO/COO. Another insight into the makeup of Finlabs, and the fact we all come from diverse backgrounds and knowledge and tend to work on ever reaching fringes of our job titles and defined roles.
Mikael developed a simple system that would be available to the team online, which would allow everyone to look forward to the next week or two and allow them to plan their attendance by quickly indicating the days they will be attending.
As the team adds their attendance the numbers accumulated, and when our defined capacity (12 people) is reached the day is locked out to others so they know not to come in.
How it’s done
Although super simple, we wanted the system to manage itself and really not need any further involvement from anyone, other than their engagement to log their intent to attend. To do this we used a basic Trello board as our engine and build a simple UI for our team that focused on our need for them to quickly tell us what they were doing.
If we just invited everyone to a Trello board to interact with it as Trello intends, it would mean exposing them to a number of other features, tools, and pieces of the Trello experience that would simply confuse and complicate their task at hand.
However, some of the basic functionality of Trello facilitated exactly what we needed. Mikael essentially repurposed some of the core features in Trello to then be presented the way we wanted as a feature of our own tool.
A basic Trello board is the backbone of the tool. We could get everything we needed through some basic features such as lists and cards while tapping into our team through their Trello account connections.
A list becomes a week, and each list is filled with cards to represent each day. Every card, when viewed in Trello, has a number of functions that are available. Descriptions, activity, labels, covers, checklists, due dates…. and on and on. We just needed a flag that could be toggled on and off. As a result, Mikael commandeered the “Vote” function. This could be tied to our individual users and could be toggled on and off easily allowing them to use it as an indicator of intent to attend the office on whatever day a card represents.
To present this to our team, and not have to explain it in the context of navigating Trello’s functionality, we built a completely separate UI that stripped away any excess features and focused the ones we do use in the context of our intended use. With a little help from our visual design crew, we quickly put together a super simple page view that clearly shows each week, each day within a week, the current status of attendance in those days, and the one-tap wonder of adding yourself to a day
So what’s the significance of this other than a reaction to circumstances we are all facing with today's current situation with Coronavirus? It shows you how we, at Finlabs, react. We do things, we create, we respond, we experiment, we find our solutions, and rather than pay a subscription and buy a tool, WE BUILT OUR OWN. Over and above that, we did it in a day or two, soup to nuts. Probably less time than it would take for someone to track down a selection of off-the-shelf tools that potentially fulfill our (simple) needs, assess which ones do in fact meet the requirement, and which one of them is best.
We looked at our own team (users first) and came up with a simple solution that fit them and fit their day without disruption. As a result, we stayed away from overthinking the needs to fit a wider audience and ended up with a tool we also do not need to spend valuable time training people to use. Principles and a mindset we bring to every challenge given to us at Finlabs, large and small.
We built a custom solution that clearly serves a purpose by creatively utilizing other platforms, in an invisible way, to leverage the features and strengths they already have, and hiding the ones that are irrelevant to the experience we want to craft.
To be frank, this is just a typical day in the life of Finlabs. It’s what we do, and what we love to do. Creatively solve problems, large and small, from proposed challenges to built solutions…FAST.
We challenge ourselves every single day with new problems to chew on, but nothing is more satisfying than being given a challenge that someone else has been trying to solve for a while without success. Helping our clients navigate and solve those problems, and realize their vision and definitions of success, is the ultimate reward for us.
If you have a challenge that you simply cannot get your arms around, give Finlabs a call. We thrive on solving problems, but we thrive more on seeing our client's satisfaction as the weight of needing to solve their problems disappears when we get involved.
So give us your biggest problems and see how partnering with Finlabs can take your products and services to new heights of success. We’re ready!