Trust as an alternative to hierarchy

Written by Fleur Casassus, on 22 August 2018

Topi Jokinen has always been driven by the desire to create a human-centered company, regardless of the sector. Today, he is the CEO of Vertia Oy, a company based in Finland with 12 employees who daily visit sites to carry out specific measurements (humidity, thermal, etc.). It's an engaging job that comes with responsibility. But is it possible to leave technicians entirely free and responsible in front of the client?

Topi Jokinen is betting on trust: employees manage their own schedules, travel alone to client sites, perform their work on-site, and can return home with the company car without necessarily having to park it at Vertia Oy's premises. If they encounter difficulties in their work, they interact with their colleagues via WhatsApp or the company's social network, Slack. This daily autonomy does not prevent a certain team cohesion through numerous outings and "team building" weekends.

"With great power comes great responsibility" - Spider-Man

To date, this culture has never failed the company. On the contrary, no client has left Vertia Oy since its inception in 2011. And the employees are delighted: those with children see a great advantage in being able to choose their own schedules. Everyone feels empowered and is motivated for the company.

Topi believes that this way of working could benefit many sectors, starting with traditional businesses such as grocery stores, hairdressers, etc. There is great potential for increased efficiency by unlocking the potential of employees and making their work more fulfilling.

With great freedom comes great responsibility, and the challenge for Topi is to instill an even more proactive stance and initiative-taking among the technicians for the company's development. This culture requires everyone to dare to step out of their comfort zone. Although some embrace it with pleasure, not everyone is prepared for it. That's why Topi has now returned to his role as CEO to ensure the company's development.

He warns: Teal* (or "Opal" in French) is not a method but rather a mindset. Vertia Oy experiments daily to draw lessons from it; that's how it evolves.

*"Teal Organization," introduced by Frédéric Laloux in his book Reinventing Organizations, is an emerging organizational paradigm where the only existing hierarchy is based on levels of expertise and individual talent.