How the Nightingale flock is adapting to the new normal

A few weeks ago, our CEO Teemu Suna wrote in a blog post that “to win (in this COVID-19 situation) we need to change how we are working and living our lives. It is crucial that we find ways to not shut down while still slowing down the spread of the virus." Taking a leaf from that, the Nightingale flock has been working together — putting more effort and finding new creative ways — to not only keep the business up and running but thrive in this new "normal".

Our blood-analysis lab is at the core of our technology and business. And “the lab throughput is about the same as it used to be before the situation,” reports Pasi Soininen, our lab director and one of the founders. This requires that all the lab operations run optimally. It helps that our sample analysis platform is completely automated, however, there are still a few things that need human supervision. “For instance, the NMR spectrometer cryogens must be routinely refilled,” explains Pasi. The hygiene levels are always high in our labs. Plus, we always use personal protective gear that reduces the chance of infection. Yet, to take utmost protection, our lab team members have been working in shifts. “Normally, people work from 7 am to 3 pm in the labs. Now, there’s only one person at a time in the lab, taking care of all the processes for a few hours and then passing on the baton to another team member in the next shift. Also, all the work that can be done remotely — for instance, tasks related to quality assurance and documentation — are being done offsite,” says Pasi.

The quality team plays an indispensable role in any health company and Nightingale is no different. Our team has not only been keeping up with the daily quality management system (QMS) related tasks but was able to conduct a remote internal audit successfully. “We have been investing a lot in configuring the electronic QMS to suit our needs and that has made the quality teams tasks a lot easier, especially during these times. We are able to write, read, approve and distribute documents from any location. That’s why a big part of our work has remained the same during these times,” says Marjut Vähäheikkilä, head of HSEQ (health, safety & environment & quality). “During the internal audit, documents and records were reviewed electronically, and topics were discussed in virtual meeting rooms. We have an external audit by FINAS scheduled next month and there’s no reason to postpone that one either,” adds Marjut. The quality team has also been conducting workshops and orientations for the new flock members, all virtually and seamlessly. “On the bright side, virtual workshops can be very well structured and it’s easy to write the meeting notes later as everyone is typing their suggestions and ideas. There are no missing Post-it notes,” jokes Marjut.

Believe it or not, remote recruitments are also happening in full swing and the Nightingale flock is growing every week, quite literally. “We have been able to fill some key positions, including our new CFO, Minna Alitalo. Her joining was confirmed on Friday, we signed the papers on Monday, she was already discussing our Junior Controller open position on Tuesday and we held the first interview for it (virtually of course) on Wednesday,” shares Elina Käsnänen, our experience and recruitment manager. In the last few weeks, the Nightingale flock has grown by 9 new members and there are still 11 positions open. Check them out here.

New hiring also means remote onboarding. Jesse Kinnunen joined our sales team about a month ago and his first week coincided with the COVID-19 lockdown in Finland. “Despite this, I had no misconceptions of how my work was going to be arranged. We talked over the remote work plans and necessary precautions on the week prior to my start and all necessary hardware (phone & computer) was delivered to me at home. I was able to get going with onboarding from day one remotely,” remembers Jesse. “As a new hire and with responsibility on building a new sales function in a scale-up, ownership is naturally called for. What has made onboarding effective was a structured training pipeline and clear communications. For that, I am grateful to my colleagues and the whole Nightingale team as they have supported me to get my bearings under challenging circumstances that this global crisis puts us all in. I'm looking forward to learning more and continuing to develop our business even during this hard time,” adds Jesse.

While the new team members are getting on board, some are rechannelling their efforts where it's most needed. Nightingale Nest, our blood-drawing location for the My Nightingale consumer blood analysis service is temporarily closed adhering to the social-distancing measures. So, our Nest team — Fadumo, Linda (our two nurses) and Maarit (our customer service and operations manager) — will be using their skill sets and time to connect with and help the community by volunteering at Helsinki Helpline for the senior residents. The volunteers are reaching out to the self-isolating elderly population. There’s also a phone-in service where older people can call to have a chat or ask for help with health-related issues, errands and other everyday needs.

Not just day-to-day routines, we’re keeping up our traditions as well. Our HEART team organises a newcomers’ breakfast to welcome the fresh faces where they get a chance to say hello to the whole Nightingale flock together. This tradition was kept even in the times of social distancing as we all gathered virtually with our breakfast bowls for an 8 am meet-up earlier last week. Also, you’d think we had to at least shut down the Nightingale cafe. Guess what? Our chef Lasse Haapaniemi is testing a takeaway lunch for all team members.

Without solid IT support, we won’t have been able to achieve most of the above-mentioned efficacies. “This is a good exercise on how to set up remote work, and how to train people remotely. We adapt through intensive thinking, learn from mistakes and then find a better solution (even new technologies) to find our ways around a roadblock,” says Kalle Liljeström, our office IT specialist.

Kalle says he follows a simple rule — “think of a solution, try it quickly, pick out what worked and discard what didn’t work. If it’s a success, refine the idea and if it’s a failure discard it.”

It’s a new environment for all of us and adapting to it will take some learning, failing and refining of ideas. However, together, it’s possible to not just survive but even thrive in these difficult times.