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Remote management in Finnish Customs, SIGMA webinar, 15 December 2020

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Remote management in Finnish Customs, Riitta Paalanen, Special Adviser in HR, Finnish Customs, SIGMA webinar, 15 December 2020

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Remote management in Finnish Customs, SIGMA webinar, 15 December 2020

  1. 1. 2 Rue André Pascal 75775 Paris Cedex 16 France mailto:sigmaweb@oecd.org Tel: +33 (0) 1 45 24 82 00 www.sigmaweb.org This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union (EU). It should not be reported as representing the official views of the EU, the OECD or its member countries, or of partners participating in the SIGMA Programme. The opinions expressed and arguments employed are those of the authors. This document, as well as any data and any map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. © OECD 2020 – The use of this material, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found on the OECD website page http://www.oecd.org/termsandconditions. REMOTE MANAGEMENT IN FINNISH CUSTOMS Riitta Paalanen Special Adviser in HR Finnish Customs WHY? What was the problem, what did not work? Why there was a need for such a solution? Customs introduced a remote working (teleworking) model in 2015. At first it was limited to certain tasks, but gradually the possibility to work remotely was expanded to all employees whose work did not require being in a certain place. The developments in the Customs IT infrastructure, including strict data protection, made it possible to work from home using all the required IT applications that are available in employee’s office. After the spread of COVID-19 virus, a decision was made in Customs that distant working should be obligatory whenever the employee’s tasks allow it. Remote management has been a new challenge for many managers. How to follow the employee’s performance? How to support those employees with less competences in digital working? How to motivate? How to keep up team-spirit? Support to managers has been delivered through Customs intranet and by developing special training in remote management. What: Description of the tool/solution Materials on the Customs intranet The managers in Customs are supported in remote management by information provided on the intranet under the COVID-19 information pages that are updated regularly. Managers are reminded • to make sure that all employees working remotely know their tasks and timetables • to agree communication methods during the distance working period – there is an increased need for dialogue • to organise common meetings and virtual gatherings for the whole team – e.g. reporting on the current situation once a week (15-30 minutes) and a more informal gathering every week (“virtual coffee break”)
  2. 2. 2 • to keep in contact regularly with each employee individually – at least once every 1-2 weeks E-learning courses Course on “Remote Management in Customs” Customs has organised training in management and leadership for its newly-appointed managers since 1998. One of the most recent topics in the training since 2017 is remote management. When remote working started to spread in Customs, the idea of building an e-learning course on this topic came up. The e-learning course allows any manager to study the topic regardless of their duty station. Customs as an organisation that is spread all over the country and some managers are working very far from the Customs School and therefore it can sometimes be difficult for them to participate in classroom training. The e-learning course was developed on the Customs Moodle platform together with an outside expert who had been lecturing about remote management on a face-to-face training course. The Moodle platform has the advantage of being an open-source product, easy to use and relatively cheap. The lecture was split into short video-clips, in addition to which the topics are discussed together in the discussions forums. The course consists of five parts: (1) Introductory part where the objectives of the course are introduced, (2) Lecture about “Changing modes of work – what are the challenges?” (3) Lecture about “How to move to a new working culture?”, (4) Trainer’s materials and (5) Feedback. The course consist of videos, powerpoint presentations and discussion areas. The time required for studying is 2-3 hours. After finishing the course, the participant can at any time access the course if she/he wants to study the materials later. One pedagogical expert from the Customs School often runs the courses for trainees by, for example, leading the discussions. The learning results are often better if an e-learning course is hosted instead of leaving the trainees to study on their own. The host can plan a proper learning process with fixed timetables, deadlines for learning objectives and lead the discussions in the discussion groups. The Moodle course was built with support from the learning technology experts in Customs School. Learning objectives of the course are: • to identify the challenges of remote management • to clarify the roles and operating models of the managers and the employees when remote working • to get concrete ideas on how to manage well remotely • to discuss and find solutions, together with the other participants, on how to succeed in remote management (peer support) Course on “How to Succeed in Remote Management” The course can be studied in eOppiva (“eLearner”), which is a digital learning environment for civil servants working in the national-level administrations. eOppiva consists of numerous e-courses, podcasts and blogs. The use of eOppiva is free of charge to civil servants. The service is developed and hosted by a team from the HAUS Institute of Public Management which is a state-owned company. The course is developed by a private service-provider and it is not specifically tailored to public management. The course gives general information about different aspects of distant management.
  3. 3. 3 Learning objectives are: • to understand the requirements and challenges of remote management • to support efficient team work remotely • to develop one’s own skills in remote management What results: what were the benefits of the solution, how does it work in practice, lessons learnt E-learning courses and materials on the intranet make it possible for all managers to access the information when it is most convenient for them. They do not need to wait for classroom training when they want to develop their competences in remote management. During the pandemic, the use of digital learning has spread to new user groups and the overall attitude towards new ways of training has become more positive. The Customs e-learning course on Remote Management has been studied by numerous managers. On the scale 1-5, the average feedback from the participants has been 4 (second best).

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