a smarter way to work

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Tuesday 22 May 2012

Visit to Paide Telework Centre, presentation of the Centre by Ms. Helje Papstel, Member of Board of NGO Paide Telework Centre. The building is owned by Elion which is a large tele-company in Estonia. At the moment there are 15 employees situated there, who primarily do telemarketing/call center work on project basis for local companies as well as for companies in Tallinn.

As they have financial problems they are continuously looking for new projects to be able to have enough work for the staff. At the same time they would like to expand the type of work to other branches as well as entrepreneurs and high-skilled people.

The employees work in 2 shifts ; Some meet at 9 o’clock and some at 14 o’clock. The employees at this center decide their own shifts and they are paid the same as their colleagues in Tallinn.

The employers control their employees using the computer system, where they can see who and when they have logged into the system as well as their performance in calls. There is no boss present at the center in Paide.

Seeing that it is more attractive to live in Tallinn it needs to be a political decision if this concept needs to grow bigger than it is today. And this is the plan. Today it is the companies’ decision to have employees in Paide, but it also means that the employees are constantly struggling to have enough projects from the companies to keep a full time job. They are looking for projects (telemarketing projects) themselves.


Visit to the Paide Castle We saw the history of Estonia and the Estonian people Ended up with lunch
Visit to Polva Telework Centre. Presentation by the Governor of Polva County Government, Ulla Preeden.
www.polva.maavalitsus.ee/etuldinfo
www.polvamaa.ee
The county consists of 1 urban municipality and 3 rural municipalities. It is situated in the South-east of Estonia.

The County Government is a government agency funded by State budget to carry out executive state tasks. Their main responsibility is to represent the State’s interests in the county and to foster consistent and balanced development in the county.

Within the past 20 years the population has decreased in the county by 14.6% both due to depopulation and migration. Today there are 30.446 inhabitants. In some municipalities there are less than 1.000 inhabitants which is a problem due to the fact that the inhabitants creates and maintains the municipalities and the life and activities there.

The average age is high and there are less people in the 30-40’s where they work and build a career. They move to the cities of Tallinn or Tartu which is the 2 largest cities. 30% of the Estonian people are living in Tallinn. But also Finland and Sweden are attractive due to that fact that it is possible to earn 3-4 times as much as in Estonia doing the same job.

Therefore the main problems of the county are the ageing of the population and the loss of people in the working-age and the young people.

There is a 10.8 unemployment rate and 16.8% are disabled.

Looking at the business life in the county the Microenterprises counts for 92.7% and small enterprises are 5.9% of all enterprises.

The primary sector : Agriculture and forestry is 35.8% and secondary sector is 20.8% and tertiary sector is 43.3%.

They see their possibilities to be the Eastern gate to the European Union, their beautiful nature and good living environments and finally to cooperate with other counties and border regions in Finland.

The smart work is a project to them. They see an opportunity to bring the well-educated people to the countryside who would be interested to live in a peaceful environment.

But they also see the problem of trust from the employer’s perspective whether the employee actually do works when sitting on a distance.

Living in the countryside is actually more expensive due to the lack of services. The houses are cheaper but on the other hand, there are larger distances to the jobs and the opportunities in the free time. The low density of the population also means that some things are getting more expensive to buy.

Even though a great number of the inhabitants are commuting, there are still some challenges for the smart work centers to work – mostly because of the distrust, but also unawareness and the established rules.
At the moment they try to promote the benefits of lower office costs and better social communication to keep in touch.

Entrepreneurs also use the facilities. Most of them 2-3 days a week to get access to printing, copies and meeting facilities – and also as an alternative to be working at home.

At this moment there are 2 centers but 4 more are planned so they will end up with 6 in total. This is prepared in cooperation with the Russian border regions.

Today it is mainly call center workers who use the facilities. But they would also like high educated people to use the facilities seeing that these people can be the source to growth and development in the local area. Often they leave the county to get an education and more needs to be done in order to have them move back.

A research of the county has been performed underlining the attractiveness of the county when it comes to nature and calmness ; the question is whether this could attract some smart workers ?

At this moment the Estonian government is paying for fiber cables to be places almost all over Estonia and in 1 year from now it should be done.


Visit to Polva Telework Center, interview with the teleworker Mr. Erki Koldits The interview will be part of the documentary film.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Status on CP2 and CP3 activities, Jane Ribergaard Holm, North Denmark Region Based on the study visit the day before, a long time was spent in the bus. The partners are encouraged to be respectful of peoples’ time when we are together. If there is transport over long distances, it could be useful to spend the time efficiently by having presentations done in the bus.

It is also recommended that sightseeing is reserved for the evening after the days’ programme. First of all we need to focus on the project and the main reason for us being together but second of all, we can have a problem with the eligibility not being able to describe the added value of the activity.

The INTERREG secretariat invites the Lead Partners to a range of seminars on how to implement the project activities. So far there have been

  • • A general seminar for Lead Partners on the overall principles of being a Lead Partner
  • • A communication seminar for Lead Partners as well as CP2 managers. This seminar was basically on how to reach the media and how to write in a way so the project gets interesting for people outside the project to read about
  • • Inge-Merete and the Lead Partner’s first level controller are attending a finance seminar in June. After that you will receive some information on the first progress report that is coming up after the first semester
  • • And finally Jane and Pepe will attend a seminar in June on the exchange of experiences. After that a template will be developed on the CP3 activities which you will receive before the summer holiday.

The conclusion from these seminars is mainly that a lot of work needs to be done, but there are also a lot of techniques on implementing 4C projects, which can ease the process a bit when paid attention to.

It has become clear that the text in the application form is very focused on the topic and the challenges we are struggling with and it fulfills all the requirements for getting an application approved. But at the same time it misses the focus on the process – how to implement the projects outputs and results afterwards.

This has been the main focus lately. Templates are being developed as well as a predefined structure on the partner meetings in the future. You will receive them before the summer holiday in July.

The programme manual has been updated in the communication section and a CP3 section has been added.

In terms of the CP2 (Communication and dissemination), the logo is in place, but we are still waiting for the paperline and the business cards, etc.

The deadline for the website has passed and an agency will be chosen very soon in order to have the website up and running before the summer holiday.

At this event in Estonia, we are taking the first step towards the documentary film and we did the first interview at the study visit yesterday. A story line for the film is being prepared and will be presented to you at the partner meeting in France in September.

We were supposed to make a brochure this semester. Unfortunately we simply haven’t managed to do that. We have had the choice of rushing through making a brochure or we could pass it to the 2nd semester making a really good one. This way we are also able to have some pictures and cases to present in the brochure.

Jane is preparing a press kit that will contain a description of the project, some facts on the partnership and the programme, pictures, logos, quotes from EU politicians and some case stories.

Unfortunately the question for case stories only resulted in 2. Hopefully we will have at least 1 more ??

If some of you send out press releases, please inform the Lead Partner in order to have samples sent to the JTS and also to have it reported in the progress report. The problem with press releases is that journalists receive a ton of press releases every day and most of them end up in the trash because they are too general and not targeted in any directions. Journalists are interested in news and making a press release on a project and having a journalist to care is extremely difficult – because there is no jumping news in it.

So instead we can also see if we can have the media to make an article on the topic instead. The press is not interested in projects, programmes and processes ; they are interested in the topics that their readers care about. So by focusing on the impact of the project and by answering questions like WHAT is the challenge and WHY are we doing this, we can make them care. At the same time we need to skip HOW – they really don’t care about processes and policies. That is also why we need those cases for the press kit !

Getting the project mentioned in the media is really about having people to interest and talk about the topic and the challenges – not the project, because this will never happen. There are some ways of having the press to show up
- 1. Invite them for breakfast every half year and tell the news and findings from Micropol
- 2. Invite local politicians, stakeholders and experts for a roundtable discussion on the topic – often the local media will attend something like this especially if local politicians are present
- 3. At other events where the press is already present, see if it is possible to get their attention for 5 minutes and inform them on Micropol also (and give them your business card)

We have a lot of work to do in this component and getting the project mentioned in the media is not easy. At this moment Marie-Hélène is preparing a plan for the activities to make sure that we reach our goals but also that we have success reaching them.

In terms of CP3 (exchange of knowledge and experiences) we need to stay focused on the fact that this is a policy making programme which means that we need to reach the policy level. In doing this please pay attention to the following suggestion.

Each partner will set up a Local Support Group (LSG). This group works to maximize the impact of the exchange of experiences and practices.

LSGs can ensure that ideas are realistic and they can test the viability at local level because they have the knowledge on local circumstances ; So they can mobilize stakeholders and define needs and give input to the implementation plan. They also have the potential to become a long lasting legacy once the Micropol project is finished.

The responsibility for building a strong and effective LSG and bringing appropriate stakeholders together is each partner’s responsibility. A core group of 10 people maximum is recommended. If more people are interested a larger forum can be organized as well.

But first of all each partner needs to define their own stakeholders. Sometimes by organization and sometimes by name – it depends. Some local societies have some very important people who have the ability to affect other people – in those cases it is the person and not the organization, who is interesting.

In defining the stakeholders, each partner needs to think of what do we want to do with them ?

  • • Inform them ?
  • • Change their belief ?
  • • Change their behavior ?
  • • What role are they supposed to play ?
  • • Why is the project interesting to them ?

It is important that it is people who are familiar with the challenge of the topic, we are looking into. Someone who can affect the project and the results in some direction or someone who needs a solution/or something done to the challenge we are dealing with.

Also remember that some stakeholders are against the project – sometimes it could be a good idea to include them in order to avoid that they will counteract on the project.

We need to ask ourselves : Who do we want to reach ? And who would like to be reached by us ?

Having identified the stakeholders it is possible to identify who will be part of the LSG. Keep the relations among the different stakeholders in mind when putting the group together.

How can they contribute ?

  • • Give input to the topic of Micropol
  • • Contribute to the Implementation Plan
  • • Identify and validate project inputs and outputs such as experiences and best practices
  • • Take part in CP3 activities through meetings and online contact
  • • Contribute the partner’s input to seminars and to get feedback from seminars and study visits to ensure dissemination of knowledge and experiences
  • • Comment on final outputs
  • • Test or pilot recommendations for example trough local strategies or the Implementation Plan
  • • Act as local project champions and lobby for changes
  • • Organize local events
  • • Obtain media coverage

Each partner is encouraged to have periodic meetings with their own LSG. These meeting is a way to mobilize the LSG through for example

  • • Workshops
  • • Expert presentations
  • • Round table discussions
  • • Hands-on planning for the future of a local society
  • • Study visit to local SWCs if any

All this leads us to the final Implementation Plan which should provide each partner with a concrete roadmap and a range of solutions on how to tackle the core issue identified at the beginning of Micropol project. The involvement of the policy level is recommended. But there is no rigid definition of what an Implementation Plan has to be and each partner and LSG is encouraged to be creative in determining the best format for theirs.

The Implementation Plan is a rather new dimension to INTERREG 4C projects. Drawing on the Micropol findings they are intended to

  • • Improve the impact of exchange and learning on local and regional policies
  • • Give concrete form to the output from activities carried out by the partners
  • • Be an instrument for further change

Each partner country commits itself to developing its own Implementation Plan as an output of its participation in the project. (Hungary only needs to develop one Implementation Plan seeing that they are from the same country).

The composition, territorial addressed and format will differ according to the type of partner. In the case of Riga Technical University, the Implementation Plan can be comprised of the research components of the project or it can be a methodological support to partners developing their own Implementation Plan or it can be a newly developed research programme related to the policies relevant to the project topic.

Implementation Plans are most likely to have a chance of being implemented if they have been produced and validated collaboratively by key stakeholders/LSG.

Some partners may start from scratch and develop a fully-fledged plan. Others may be working in an area where there is already an advanced plan in place, so a parallel plan may be counterproductive and it might be more useful to evaluate and propose adjustments to the existing plan instead.

After the seminar on the exchange of experiences, you will receive more information on this. Meanwhile pay attention to the project manual, where you will also find more details on the LSGs.

The deadline for having established a Local Support Group is by the French partner meeting in September 2012. Please get in contact with Jane jarh@rn.dk or Pepe micropol.es@gmail.com if any question or problems occur.


Presentation on the Estonia Labor Market policy and measures, Mr. Siim Sarapuu, Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund www.tootukassa.ee The Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund helps unemployed people to get a job by offering career information, job search workshops and mobile consulting. The training is bought from private companies.

They are very focused on diverse measures provided to access individual needs. Focusing on skills and solutions help individuals to focus on their needs and wishes.

To support them they have established partnerships med the municipalities to activate longterm unemployment with multiple barriers to employment.

In the communication with the clients, the counselor can decide whether to communicate via e-mail or letter. It depends on the skills of the unemployed and for how long the person has been out of job. People with long-term unemployment, needs to have some sort of social contact. In this case it is not enough just to send them money every month and en e-mail once in a while. Often they have psychological problems as well and by having personal contact they feel more important. However the digital communication with the unemployed is increasing.

Estonia has been affected by the crisis as everyone else, but the number og vacancies have increased in Tallinn lately. There is a 7% unemployment rate in Tallinn right now and it has been more difficult to find good people.

The minimum wage in Estonia is 290 EUR/month. 2/3 of the unemployed are without unemployment benefits which leaves them with 60 EUR/month.

As part of the activation, unemployed are offered 6 months in subsidy jobs in rural areas. The benefit is twofold ; the unemployed are being activated and there are jobs being brought to the rural areas. But it is a difficult project seeing that only 10% of the unemployed people are willing to work for minimum wage – even though they are told that they have to start in a new direction (branches, jobs). The benefit for the companies is that they get the workforce cheaper – 50% but no more than minimum wage. However the companies would never outplace the employers if there hasn’t been some sort of support system in the rural areas.

They expect 10-15% of black work, but in some places it may be more than that. The biggest challenge for Estonia is the possibility of earning 3-4 times more in Finland.


Presentation of the Estonian e-Government System and ICT solutions, Ms. Anna Hrapovtskaja, the Estonian Demo Centre, www.e-estonia.com Estonia is one of the most advanced e-societies in the world that grew out of a partnership between the government, the ICT-sector and the population. The Estonian population enjoys a wide range of e-solutions.

Instead of developing a single, all-encompassing central system, Estonia created an open, decentralized system that links together various services and databases.

At the ICT Demo Center they show how the ICT solutions work in real time, encourage the use of ICT solutions globally, help Estonian ICT sector to raise the export and create a common platform for international cooperation in the field of ICT solutions.

In 2002 Estonia introduced the Personal ID card nationwide. 87% of the population has the ID card which is compulsory for all residents. The card contains personal information, is a certificate for authentication – along with e-mail address forename.lastname@eesti.ee and it is a certificate for digital signature. In 2007 the mobile ID were introduced that allows using the mobile phone as a form of secure ID.

With the personal ID it is possible for each inhabitant to sign in digitally and can for example take care of

  • • e-banking (get in touch with bank accounts, transfer money, etc.)
  • • e-school (parents communicate with their children’s’ school and have an overview of homework, grades, attendants, etc. as well as communicating with the teachers directly via e-mail)
  • • e-voting (vote from any internet-connected computer form anywhere in the world)
  • • e-health (see the personal medical record and pick up e-prescriptions)
  • • e-tax (file taxes and get refunds immediately)
  • • Land register (information on all ownership relations concerning real estates and land parcels)
  • • Business register (it is possible to start own business within 20 minutes and do all reporting online)
  • • E-ticket (as a pre-paid ticket for public transport)
  • With the Mobile-ID it is possible to
  • • make payments instead of using credit cards
  • • m-parking (pay for parking spots)

The DigiDoc is a system for sharing and digitally signing documents. After logging into the system with ID card or Mobile-ID the user can upload any document, sign it digitally and forward it to other parties.

The e-business register provides actual and adequate online information on all profit and nonprofit organisations, including political parties and on persons related to any business activities.

The e-police system contains of two main tools 1) a mobile workstation installed in each police car and 2) a positioning system that shows the location and status of every officer in the headquarter. The mobile workstation in each police car provides the officer with criminal record, information from the State Registry of Service and Civil Weapons, the Motor Vehicle Registration Centre, The Traffic Insurance Fund and the Population Register in just 2 seconds.

The benefits of all these investments have been

  • • Safe, convenient and flexible exchange of information between private, government and corporate data
  • • A better educated population with easy access to public services
  • • Bureaucracy is a thing of the past
  • • 99% of bank transfers were performed electronically in 2010
  • • 94% of tax returns were filled via the e-Tax Board
  • • No need to send paper documents, it saves time and courier costs
  • • Lower environmental impact
  • • Documents remain private due to the log-system

Estonia is one of the leading experts in the world when it comes to cyber-security.


Presentation on the Estonian experience in promoting telework, Ms. Kadri Seeder, www.telework.ee/ee Before 2004 there were more than 500 telecentres in Estonia primarily through ‘Look at the world’ foundation. But today most of them are very old-fashioned with old computers.

2004-2007 there were some different projects among others offering flexible workforms to people living on the islands and also to young people with children getting them back on the labor market.

In 2007 ‘The telework Organisation’ was established. Today it is called ‘Smart Work Association’. Its mission is to promote telework in Estonia and for people to choose other preferred work arrangements which can also generate more livelihood in rural areas.

The association has an ongoing discussion with the Regional Ministry that telework is not promoted very strongly and that the benefits are not highlighted enough such as e-learning and entrepreneurship.

The problem in Estonia is that nobody wants to own the project. There is no motivation for them to promote telework. So instead it is more a rural perspective than it is a need and a priority for Tallinn.

In Estonia it is more expensive to live in rural areas because of the low density of the population and it is more difficult because of the distance to everything. So by promoting telework as a project for rural areas, it is the values of nature and calmness that are being underlined.

‘Why not just work at home’ is heard a lot. But it is very difficult to be efficient at home day after day because of kids, pets, laundry, etc.

In order to move away from telecentres and towards Smart Work Centres the most crucial is to have the infrastructure in place

  • • IT
  • • Bookkeeper
  • • Support system
  • • Training

There need to be some kind of payment by membership to force the ownership.

The Smart Work Center is more like a multiple center offering

  • • Library
  • • Post office
  • • Tourist office
  • • Kindergarten
  • • E-learning
Presentation of Telework and modern workform, Mr. Patrick Rang, Estonian Advice Centres Patrick went through a historic overview from telework to smart work.

2 key aspects have changed turning the focus on smart work today

  • • The development in ICT
  • • Paradigm shift in management

Today almost everyone can afford a computer and a lot of people can do a lot of work with their computers alone.

The paradigm in management has changed from control, centralization, standardization into networks, flexibility and cooperation.

If you combine these 2 factors it enables you to work without being physically present.

Smart work is a wider conception, but telework remains its cornerstone enables

  • • Entrepreneurship
  • • Innovation
  • • Regional development
  • • Employment for the vulnerable
  • • Improvement on environment

Thursday 24 May 2012

Summarizing of the partner meeting Based on the past two days a number of challenges have been identified. Some of them are limited to Estonia while others are generally applicable. The challenges are :

At the political level

  • • Is this a priority at local or national level ? Who will own this project and to which department does it belong ?
  • • Is it rural development ?
  • • Employment ?
  • • ICT Infrastructure ?

The employers/companies

  • • Problem with trust
  • • Philosophy of management
  • • The practical arrangement – how to make it work
  • • Lack of awareness and of the benefits

For the employee

  • • Apart from low-skilled people doing call-center jobs – do high-skilled people really prefer to stay or move to rural areas and work like this ?
  • • Lack of awareness

So basically – who wants this ? What are our possibilities ?

Based on these challenges, there was a debate where the following statements were brought up ;

EE : Politically it is a horizontal project and seeing that it belongs to several ministries it also belongs to no one. Therefore we need to focus on promoting the benefits in order for the political level to want the project.

NL : This is very difficult at the national level, but not at local level – although ICT is a national priority…

HU : The local level is easy to manage but there is a finance problem at local level. Therefore to reach money we need also to reach the national level. So basically we need to target both levels.

UK : We have money on the table already for rural development, so the timing is right. It is a priority right now in UK.

IT : There is a contradiction in the past days, because telework is used to promote low-skilled and disabled people. But at the same time it demands high-skilled people in ICT and languages. So how to promote telework on high-skilled people ?

NL : Perhaps the centers need some kind of a mentor – a person who provides some kind of service and support to keep the motivation and culture in a good state.

  • • Bring them together for breakfast once a month
  • • Create a sense of belonging to the center
  • • Training sessions The issue of trust is important. It is also hard to reach a critical mass – if a company will have 1-2 distant workers.

FR : We need to focus on the benefits ; In order to work you need to go outside your home because of the kids, pets, cleaning, etc. Then we also need to separate telework for smart work – it is not the same thing.

NL : We don’t have freelancers in the countryside to work in these centers. But if the smart work centers were established in NL, a lot of high-skilled people might want to use the centers/facilities.

LV : There are 2 target groups for these houses ; The low-skilled doing telework and the high-skilled and entrepreneurs. We don’t have a lot of high-skilled people in the countryside either. If the centers could be combined with other functions, the local beneficiaries would also see the benefit in it, like childcare, e-education, etc.

FR : Business doesn’t mix with social care. If you need to have meetings with clients, it doesn’t go with children or elderly people in the hall. Work is work, and it needs to be in a professional place.

UK : Telework is not only a tool to fight unemployment but also commuting and loosing young people from rural areas as well. We need to define the different target groups, but the answer can be different for each partner.

Bringing high-skilled and well paid jobs back in the countryside, benefits not only commuting 1½ hours every morning and evening but also spending it on something else.

We also need to be aware of the changing nature of work. Being able to work anywhere anytime. We are moving away from the industrial way of work where you are situated at the same place every day. Even though you put the facilities there, they might use it 1-2 days a week so the users will change every day.

We need training in ICT, languages and communication, but also entrepreneurial skills. Young and high-skilled people are often better at typing than at the interactive skills like doing a phone-call.

NL : We need to think of : Who are these people – who would want these centers ?

UK : we need a research on what demands the smart workers ? And a list of jobs that can be done anywhere both in public and private sector. The supply is cero but what is the demand ?

EE : How is the best way to include the political level in this ?
- 1) Could this project be institutionalized ?
- 2) Or via network ? If it is written in a plan of a ministry it is binding and thereby it will be sustainable.

IT : The political levels both national and local are already aware of the benefits of telework. The challenge is the companies and the benefits for the companies.

Who invests in these centers ? Public government or private companies ? What’s in it for the companies ? Is the private sector really interested in this ? We are going where the companies will never go.

LV : The solution could be public-private partnerships. We could use the structural funds for investment, but we also need knowledge and experience from the private sector. But also when talking about the risk – the private sector is not so willing, so basically it will be the public sector.

UK : Public-private partnerships are more attractive for companies, if it is for free, it is not attractive – business needs to like business.

IT : Also remember Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), so the risk could be on the enterprises doing the CSR without public funding.

UK : We have different starting point going the same place, and therefore we need answers to different questions.

One possibility could be to develop different scenarios/frameworks on how to design the smart work centers.

EE : As long as we keep the focus of the project in mind ; to visualize the SWCs in local and regional policies.

UK : The benefit could be to create additional growth in rural areas not only moving work places to another area


Final words, Estonian Advice Centres, Tanel Mätlik What we have seen is the different living conditions in the city and in the rural areas.

Estonia is at the forefront when it comes to ICT and in this project ; there is a way to integrate the ICT companies in the SWCs.

We have seen different telework centers and hopefully this has given some insight and ideas for the future.


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