The pandemic has taught us a lot about working styles, as well as our work-life balances. Teemyco’s CEO, Charlotte Ekelund, discusses the importance of being a positive company culture.
I was only 25 when I had my awful satellite office experience. Within weeks in my new international role, I transformed from a high performing happy at work graduate to a miserable, left out, misunderstood and lonely remote worker. Working from the Stockholm office, with the rest of the team in London, I missed out on the coffee chats. No one in my team seemed to care about getting to know me. There was little respect for local holidays and work was 100% — just — work. Given the time zone difference I would hear my Swedish office neighbours laugh at lunch together in the office kitchen while I was in Webex meetings. Since I operated on UK time, I ate alone, an hour later. Every day. I wasn’t part of the Swedish team business wise. I was junior in my career, and I would certainly not dream of asking the UK team to adjust their schedules to mine once in a while — I was just a graduate, happy to have snatched a job in the HQ, getting to work from Sweden.
My mental health deteriorated. When I finally dared to bring up with my manager that I felt stressed, her response was that no one wanted to hear my complaints, we all had a lot to do. And I would get to fly to London for two days next month. So I kept fighting. I wanted to perform so badly. I wanted my manager to not just favorize the girl who sat next to her, to see how hard I tried, too. I worked the longest hours in the entire Nordics. My work life centered around feeling left out, trying to find my identity in the team. Trying to make them like me despite being different culturally and just “not there”. Trying to perform without ever getting help when being stuck because there was no one to ask; being by myself. I fought. 9 months in; crash. My brain froze one day when trying to re-read an email for the 17th time without understanding what it said. The emotional stress I had been feeling around work for months affected my ability to think. With a crushed self confidence not recognizing my work self, I ended up first leaving the role, and then switching to another company.
Fast forward seven years, and a mild life crisis later, I decided to leave the consumer goods industry and devote my life to help people get happier at work. So, I became a recruitment consultant (aka headhunter, aka job matchmaker). Without ever having worked in HR, and with a 35% salary cut I left my positive looking career as a strategist and instead started interviewing humans. What was important to them at work? Why did they want, or not want to leave their teams? Having the first placed candidate thank me for “making her life so much better thanks to the job switch”, my career efforts felt more meaningful than ever.
Two years later I realised: what if I could help even more people get happier at work — at scale? What if I could be crazy enough to, utilizing technology, make teams feel truly connected? Help no one ever needing to feel the way I had done? Help leaders catch when “I feel a bit stressed ‘’ in fact means “I am seriously miserable but since you don’t see me in between scheduled meetings and you seem irritated if I chat ping you — help”? What if I could devote my career to bringing back the fun moments in teams; enabling everyone from anywhere to be part of the coffee chats & weekend gossip?
Four months before the pandemic, my skilled software engineer and data scientist co-founder Oleg and I embarked on our joint mission to create everyday work happiness, anywhere by launching our virtual office solution. A place where teams like our own, spread out across multiple countries, can co-exist, side by side. And yes of course the ability to ask quick questions drives productivity. But the real why behind this mission is not quantified productivity metrics. It’s how people feel at work. Because how you feel at work is such a big part of how you feel in life. And we all know the happiest cows yield the best milk, too.
Just over two years in, we have users in 117 countries. Recently we ran our first survey asking users if they feel different since their teams started using Teemyco. Seeing that 89.4% of our users feel significantly more connected to their teams since introducing Teemyco is powerful. 83.9% feel more included in their teams, 83.8% happier at work. The results go on and on like this. And I would like to highlight all the heroes of leaders who care so much about how their teams feel, they actively create a co-working space online. Remote leadership is hard. And there is still so incredibly much to be done in this space. But I am proud to say that I have never been more mission driven at work ever. The day physical office lovers like myself do not feel the need to go to the office, because Teemyco makes them feel no difference, we are there. And we have come a long way. Thank you, dear users to date, for letting us help your teams be together. Thank you for making my personal dream of helping humans become happier at work become reality. Thank you for daring to try something new because you care about your team.
It means the world to me.