Annual Report 2022/Story: Building a distributed team
In this story, we focus on how the work of building an international team was initiated in 2022 by hiring people for short-term positions, as well on how we, in parallel with this internationalization, made it possible for large parts of our staff to work remotely in an effective and permanent manner.
Wikimedia Sverige's work with several international projects has increased our need for specialist expertise and niche support for shorter periods of time. That's why we've been doing some preparatory work within the framework of developing a thematic hub since 2020. In recent year, we've had some international staff working with the UN, which has helped us develop a lot of administrative processes. Our UN work continued in 2022, so we hired additional staff who could support our work with both software development and the project management surrounding it.
After consultations with the Wikimedia Foundation and others about their own experiences of enriching their teams with international talent, we chose contractor procurement as a solution. You can read more about this in Story: Ensuring the best fit: International hires and contractors.
However, contracts and other tools that make it possible for good people to join our team are only one part of this puzzle. What it all comes down to is helping them get involved in our activities and their colleagues – helping them become part of the team.
This transition to making our team more international hasn't been happening in isolation. At the same time, our Swedish staff has been getting increasingly more geographically spread as well. This change has also motivated us to think long and hard about how to best structure our organization and our operations. All the planning is based on the idea that the new possibilities for remote work shall be available to the greatest extent possible, that our organization shall remain flexible in face of changed conditions, as well as that the planning ensures that different needs are accommodated and that different strengths are taken care of. It should be noted that remote work is not free from negative aspects or even some real risks. We cannot ignore those – they have to be included in our decision making process and in the different planning stages. Our policy for remote work attempts to capture these different needs.
We made an active choice to keep a scalable Stockholm office by renting workspaces in a serviced office. At the same time, we make it possible for our staff to negotiate where their main workplace should be and work somewhere else.
We have continued developing our operations so that they can largely be managed remotely and so that our international coworkers can work effectively. Our processes have been improved, giving us flexibility when employing new people or re-structuring our team. In order to reduce the negative effects of remote work, we have also started experimenting with regular physical staff meetings, as well with how to best organize meetings with our members and board so that strong and positive relations can be developed. Finding the right structures for those is an ongoing work and something we consider a central part of building a strong workforce in the future.