The difficulties of remote work speak for themselves. The pandemic has highlighted these struggles. The work environment of many people became solitary and isolated. Many of us who have forced to sit in front of screens are now looking for alternatives to impersonal and tedious video calls. The formula for a solution seems simple: personaliziation by adding cheerful and team-building features. However, the expectations of the market are now sky-high. The Swedish Teemyco team is working to provide an accessible, user-friendly and fun platform for those who work from home. Charlotte Ekelund, co-founder of Teemyco, tells us more about it.
What motivated you to come up with Teemyco?
“We started the virtual offices even before the pandemic. Me and my co-founder, Oleg Danylenko, both have a personal story to tell. 10 years ago I worked at an international company, I was based in Stockholm and my team was in London. It had a really bad impact on how I felt at work. I was really miserable, because I just had online meetings all day and my colleagues didn’t know me. Meanwhile, they were having fun around the coffee machine in London, while I was just this weirdo in Sweden. There were so many disadvantages, such as not getting help when I was stuck, my manager didn’t see whenever I was struggling, and I was also missing out on the social element. So I decided I wanted to work on helping to make people happy and satisfied at work. I set about pivoting my career in 2017 and became a recruitment consultant. This meant that I could help people find jobs that made them happier.
Oleg is from Ukraine. He has experienced that many people are unable to get certain jobs, simply because they are not located there. He wants to help people find work from wherever they are. He himself had to leave his hometown and country for specific career opportunities. That is why he’s really passionate about enabling people to work from anywhere. So, together we began our shared journey to create happiness at work every day.”
How did your experiences change during the pandemic?
“Things have changed a lot. In 2019, we only had a hypostasized market of tech scale-ups. When the pandemic hit, the whole world became our market overnight. It was crazy. At that time, we were a 4- month old company with just 2 people. We’d gone live with 4 or 5 beta customers, but our product was pretty basic.
We set up a beta waiting list consisting of 85,000 people. Each week we ran tests with different types of customers, such as marketing agencies, universities and start-ups. We had to determine which type of target audience was the best fit for us. It turned out that we were on the right track from the very start, and tech scale-ups were a great fit.
People were joking about us being “behind Covid.” Because the situation was so perfect for us. Although it wasn’t only positive. It also increased competition a lot. Before the pandemic, there were about 3 players on the market, then all of a sudden 30 new companies appeared. People also had very high expectations for the product which was not advanced enough yet. In the beginning it was pretty hard to take to see that people were disappointed.
On the bright side, we didn’t have to explain why dispersed teams need an online office. The pandemic made it clear, that people can feel lonely and disconnected and productivity levels can drop.”
What was the most difficult thing to overcome in the development process?
“I would say, the pace of development. The market was ready earlier than the development itself. This is an extensive product where different personalities, job types and working cultures come together. User journeys vary from person to person. Customers use the platform in a lot of different ways. Therefore, user requests were constantly coming in and we didn’t have a big development team in place then who could solve those problem. The backlog and the development pipeline were really quite long.”
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What features can the user try out?
“Each online office is unique and has a strong branding element. For example, if you are Coca Cola, you can upload your own logo and use the red color in the visual template. It’s possible to add plants and tables to the workspace, design and name rooms however you like. And because we want to instil a little happiness every day, we’ve included a number of features for some fun and joyful moments. Like giving compliments (in forms of little hat icons) which are visible to everyone. We also have an ‘office stories’ function, similar to the one on Instagram. In our team, we have 12 different nationalities and most of us work remotely, so it’s useful to get to know each other better. We also have a coffee button. Click on it and it takes you to the kitchen and notifies the others that you are there. If they feel like socializing, then they can join you. These are some of the functionalities which make us feel like we are together.”
Why is your platform special in the market?
“A lot of our American competitors having a more gamified approach. Think of it like a Super Mario-styled online space with avatars walking around. That’s a lot of fun and they built impressive products, but they don’t appeal to our target audience. Our audience want a slightly more professional feeling.”
What feedback are you getting?
“We actually have had someone who left the company but then came back just because he missed the unique team feeling he had experienced with us. Despite never having met us in person! He felt so connected with his co-workers all thanks to Teemyco. We also did a survey amongst our users, and it turned out the 91 percent of them feel more connected to their teammates since they started using Teemyco.”
What are you working on now?
“The mobile app is coming shortly. We’ve also launched our first partnerships. For instance, with Deel. They are a company who handle payrolls and compliance for international teams. So, they solve a lot of headaches for us in the areas of salary payments and different types of taxes. We also have a lot more exciting ways in the pipeline to create more joy in the workplace, but I’m afraid those are still secret for now.”