The transformation into a modern digital workplace was already a reality at Almi, a Swedish state-owned company, offering financing and support to businesses in growth. But when the pandemic struck everything changed again. Overnight all communication and interaction went digital. But with the support of Storyals learning solutions, Almi can now quickly adopt, train their staff, and build digital skills throughout the organization.
Digital skills help driving growth
Almi offers loans to companies with growth potential and assists in their business development. They welcome both start-ups as well as well-established companies and have 16 regional subsidiaries located in different parts of the country.
Since 1994, Almi has approved 80,000 business loans amounting to a total of more than 4 billion U.S. dollars. The company has invested over 250 million dollars in 600 portfolio companies. And Almi has, in the past 25 years, made over 300,000 business development activities for Swedish companies, domestically and all around the world – helping them grow exponentially.
Adapting to the digital workplace
As for many other organizations, things have drastically changed for Almi since the pandemic started in early 2020. Most of Almi’s work has been transferred to the digital arena. They were already using Microsoft Teams, but with the pandemic, the software was truly put to the test.
“All our meetings became digital. A simple question to a colleague had to be posed via chat instead of in person, and our traditional Friday coffee break became a virtual event, held via Teams instead of at the office,” says Cassandra Falk, Internal Communications Manager at Almi.
But getting deeper into the world of virtual work required more Teams training for Almi, which employs nearly 500 people. The company hired an external provider, and the classes turned out to be great. But contractually, Almi wasn’t allowed to use any of the information that came out of the sessions. This was a problem.
“Then we got in touch with Storyals, and they offered exactly what our organization needed: Story-based tutorials that we can store on our own learning management portal, available for all of our employees to access whenever they need them, for as many times as they want,” says Cassandra Falk. Almi chose the subscription-based learning solution Storyals Lite, adding on adoption services including customized webinars and coaching by adoption experts.
“I want to stress the extreme professionalism that we’ve encountered working with Storyals. I admire their attention to detail, speed and ability to make us feel important and prioritized as a client,” says Cassandra Falk.
Making the virtual personal
For the business developers at Almi, the two biggest challenges with the new working all-digital environment is the lack of physical meetings with clients and the lack of in-person social interaction between colleagues.
“It’s been a challenge, but with our clients we try to retain the feeling of a physical meeting by making the virtual interactions as comfortable and personal as possible.”
But when it comes to our staff, it’s clear that many miss the office and the energy that we create together as human beings. It’s hard to replace, but we’re doing our best,” says Cassandra Falk.
A better balance
Working from home and working digitally have had positive effects on work-life balance, according to Cassandra Falk. However, she stresses that in-person interaction still is necessary for retaining creativity and energy.
“I don’t see us going back to the old ways after the pandemic. But our social needs must be met, and the in-person meeting will become even more special and important when digital meetings are the norm. In the future, I see a combination of digital and physical client interactions, and also a combination of working from home and from the office,” says Cassandra Falk.
Lars Mårdbrant, Communications Director at Almi, with Ulrika Hedlund, General Manager and Productivity Expert at Storyals.
Almi is currently in the process of rolling out the Storyals learning solution to their employees all over Sweden. They had a big launch at their all-company meeting to make employees aware of what’s coming – a great way to get everyone on board. It is also crucial to have company leadership actively supporting and driving the initiative, something Almi management has done with flying colors. Going forward, the company will have to keep driving digital adoption and safeguard the company culture that encourages continuous learning.