July 21, 2015

Working towards open source culture – building trust

Anna Pulkkinen

Product Manager Trainee, Tieto,

As a participant of Tieto’s Generation-T trainee program I’ve had the chance to work both with my trainee colleagues in training modules around the Tieto offices and with my colleagues in my home office in Kuopio on a daily basis. Consequently I’ve come to know Tieto quite well: the energy industry from my daily work and in a wider perspective through the trainee program. 

I’ve met people from different countries, industries, service lines, and positions. Using the same kind of collaborations and knowledge sharing tools companywide makes it easier to work together and be in touch with people regardless of their physical location.

However, the long distances set certain challenges for open source culture. Despite meeting quite a lot of new faces during training modules, I certainly have not met most of my team members in person. I must admit this caused some uncertainty for me in the beginning. How do you build relations and trust with new colleagues without meeting them face to face? How do you get to know each other during busy online meetings when you don’t have the benefit of chatting with each other during coffee and lunch breaks? As my trainee colleague Marja Seppä wrote in her article, trust is expected and surely in a key role within open source culture.

After struggling a bit at first, I came to realize by following and observing my colleagues that the openness and trust building starts with ourselves. I can decide how to interact with others and what I share with them. Many things can make a difference when collaborating remotely. It is even more important to listen to your colleagues carefully, show them appreciation, ask for and offer help when needed, be respectful, and show interest in other people. Doing this via conference calls and written communication without any body language I’ve found it important to pay extra attention to the tone of voice in online meetings in addition to what is being said, write a bit more rather than less in written communication, and sometimes even use emoticons to strengthen the message or mood. It is easy to give the wrong impression when using visual cues is not possible, and this can lead to failed assumptions and issues in building trust.

Building trust might be a bit slower in a distant co-operation, but it doesn’t mean it is impossible. It takes more focusing on what we share and how, making the most of the tools we have and even creating new ways of collaborating. I believe we can be successful and work towards open source culture.

When it comes to the teams I work with, I feel happy to work with people that are committed to shared goals and are honest and helpful towards each other. The barrier to get to know each other better also outside of the office has been overcome with WhatsApp groups that open a window even into the lives of my Indian colleagues.

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