We talked to Perttu Ojansuu on how Happeo changes the way companies communicate and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Perttu Ojansuu: My family and I are doing well during these times. Although we, of course, miss seeing each other and the distance has been challenging, I am hopeful that we can see each other in person in 2021.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Happeo?
It started in 2010, when I co-founded Gapps along with Vesa Sironen and Antero Hanhirova. As students, we saw how large organizations in Finland were working inefficiently with antiquated systems. From there, Gapps was born – and became the largest Google reseller in Finland, helping companies move to IT-cloud systems. Running that company successfully confronted us with the every-day work life of people at organizations, regardless of their size. We spend one third of our life working. Shouldn’t that then be something that we love doing? Instead we spend 20 hours per week combing through emails and 8 hours on searching for information that we need to do our job – instead of actually doing it. We realized that there’s no way this makes people happy at work, and we needed to be the ones to change this.
The idea that we waste so much time and are so unhappy at work burdened us . That’s what started our mission to make work a happier place, and what keeps me motivated to build a digital workplace that simplifies life.
How does Happeo innovate?
Perttu Ojansuu: Firstly, we have an incredible team that takes ownership of each function, project, and feature that we produce. We’re not just driven by a desire to create a product, but to change the way people think about the future of work. Innovation starts with one individual believing that they can change the way the world works, and at Happeo, we’re lucky enough to have 70 people (and counting) crazy enough to think they can make people happier at work. One easy way to keep the innovation going is by continually asking for feedback and using that feedback to anticipate solutions to problems that people never imagined could be solved. You never know where the next great idea will come from. We encourage everyone at Happeo to share their ideas and regularly share what our customers think company-wide.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Perttu Ojansuu: The pandemic has increased the demand for solutions like Happeo, meaning we are busier than ever. Our customers are relying on digital workplace solutions like ours more than ever, and we’re happy to be able to support them in any way we can. Internally, we’ve added 40+ new hires to our team this year, and we continue to grow. We’re all working remotely, but luckily Happeo’s platform has allowed us to find new solutions to connect and keep our culture strong.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Perttu Ojansuu: We have been fortunate so far and went into this unthinkable period with a wonderful team, an openness to remote working, and a product that supports organizations no matter where they are in the world. We have not had to make drastic decisions like some other startups at this time, and we’re grateful every day to close 2020 with the team that we started with and some fantastic new faces. As for lessons learned, I think this period has shown us one thing above all: organizations that are not empowering their employees to work remotely out of fear of lowered productivity are destined to fall behind. We are entering a new digital transformation age, and we should expect that top talent will no longer be geographically limited. If we are going to build a new working way, we need to adopt it ourselves fearlessly.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Perttu Ojansuu: It may seem like a simple solution, but I go for walks. I rely on fresh air and movement to keep my mind clear. At Happeo, many of our one-on-one meetings are conducted during a walk — it helps to think and relax, connect with your peers outside of the office, outside of your home, and connect with your surroundings. A simple change of scenery, and the absence of four constricting walls, has led to some of the most productive meetings I’ve had.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Perttu Ojansuu: While there are certainly other companies in the same industry as us, the field is still evolving and finding its direction, and typically the biggest competitor is status-quo. At the same time, we see top talent becomes more and more scarce, as globalization means the most in-demand talent can work wherever they want. Unfortunately, we live in a world where inaction is much easier than innovation and where many organizations think of their employees as a given and not as a privilege. We’re here to change that perception, and we understand this comes with a long road of education. We are here to stay and are excited to build a bulletproof dossier to demonstrate that engaged and connected employees create a massive amount of economic and social value.
Your final thoughts?
Perttu Ojansuu: These new ways of working have given way to what I hope will be a more flexible, productive, and trusting work environment, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
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