2021 in retrospect: towards a more serious digital age?
Tuomas Jalamo

2021 in retrospect: towards a more serious digital age?

Even with all its challenges, 2021 saw us looking ahead and focusing on what matters.

For most of us, 2021 didn't exactly leave behind a positive impression. With the pandemic again hitting hard during the darkest time of the year, it's easy to forget that parts of the year were indeed much brighter, both literally and figuratively.

If 2020 was the big shock for work culture, 2021 saw us getting more acquainted with the new situation. Instead of leaning into already existing ways of combining remote and office work, our discussions revolved around how we could become pioneers of building workplaces for this new era and beyond. Rather than seeing all of this as a series of compromises, we can use this chance to improve the old ways for good.

During autumn, many of us who had mainly worked from home decided to try returning to the offices. Sadly, the restrictions returned soon after.

We talked about this theme at the SHIFT Business Festival in our panel discussion with Gofore. Focusing on free craft beer and video games in recruitment marketing feels almost insulting in a world where our worries are quite a lot bigger. Much more pressing questions for someone starting at a new job would include: is the company stable even during turbulent times? How do we make sure the contracts between the employer and the employee are fair? How do we remain ambitious and yet create long term well-being instead of people burning out? Is our work sustainable – or are we creating more problems than we are solving? Are we able to create a work culture that supports a wide array of different people and life situations? Answering these questions and more will no doubt be crucial for any modern workplace that seeks to be considered at the top of their game.

In early fall, our People & Operations Manager Niina and Gofore's Transformation Lead Eeva Kiiskinen participated in a panel discussion about the future of work culture at the SHIFT Business Festival.

So far, our efforts in building a healthy culture have been successful: a study we conducted during the tail end of 2021 showed that people working at Taiste feel content with both the work and the atmosphere and have a high level of appreciation towards their colleagues. We've also managed to continue growing swiftly even during this unpredictable time. To be able to provide an environment where everyone can focus on creating rather than constant stress is a luxury we don't take for granted and will do our very best to maintain.

In 2021, we began compensating the CO2 emissions of everyone working at Taiste. Read more about the emission compensating project here.

Already before the pandemic, in our recap of the year 2019 (oh, how distant that feels now), we stated that our goal is to not produce "digital waste" but rather be an enabler in projects that truly contribute to something in ways big or small – whether it's making work easier with Enterprise Resource Planning systems or building a platform for more ethical AI.

Our new projects this year certainly serve as good examples of this philosophy. Take Bluefors, a company that builds refrigerator measurement systems for the ultra-low temperature needs of both businesses and scientific research, including Quantum Computing. We've created user interfaces for their devices – this helps researchers use this high-end equipment even more efficiently. And if covid has taught us anything, it is that efficient research is pretty damn crucial.

These impressive-looking devices by Bluefors are ultra-low temperature refrigerators used in highly demanding research settings. We helped them craft a top-notch user experience that makes using these complex systems easier.

Speaking of topical things: quality journalism certainly ranks high on that list. We've been proud to assist Otavamedia, one of the oldest media companies in Finland, in improving the user experience of perhaps their most prestigious magazine Suomen Kuvalehti. The results of the project so far can be seen in February with the release of their new website.

Meanwhile, self-service kiosks we designed as a part of our long-running co-operation with Hesburger made their debut abroad, starting from Estonia. Another project with international reach was Flowhaven, a licensing suite used by big brands like Nintendo, Sanrio and Rovio.

For big brands, making licensing easier saves a lot of time both for them and their affiliates. Flowhaven is a suite that helps them do just that.

More projects, of course, mean the need for more people. Luckily, we managed to find new team members who are both talented and a joy to be around. 13 new taisteians in total joined our ranks in 2021 – and even though most of us were still predominantly working from home this year, we at least managed to get the whole gang together for our pre-christmas party just before the late-year restrictions began.

We met many of our new colleagues IRL for the first time at our Christmas party.

One thing we've noticed about our colleagues is that it's important for them to know what Taiste stands for and participate in shaping that story. This was evident in the middle of our visual brand revival project (the results of which can be seen in early 2022). Delightfully, even the developers were passionately arguing about the consistency of the visual language and its message. Guess we've internalised our ethos of design meets technology quite well.

The questions should always be: does the work justify itself? Does it solve more problems than it creates?

So where will all this lead us?

In our projects, we're constantly moving towards more challenging and complex systems. This is partly because these days, the value of combining technology and user experience is better understood by big companies. Also: it seems the B2B landscape – and tech talk in general – has become more serious in recent years. Given what's going on in the world this makes sense. There's less interest for marketing-purpose apps with fun gimmicks and more focus on long-term benefits. Not only does this feel like a sign of the times, it is very much in line with our philosophy. As creators of software and user experiences, we stand by the view that digital solutions are, above all, tools that should be wielded wisely. The questions should always be: does the work justify itself? Does it solve more problems than it creates?

And maybe that's the mindset we should go towards the inevitable challenges and triumphs of 2022 with: in difficult times, there's a clearer focus on what's important. And with a little luck, some of the resulting work might even help to pave the way for a more hopeful tomorrow.

Tuomas Jalamo

A Swiss Army knife of communications, marketing, project management and concept design. Also a musician, movie buff and game enthusiast.

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Tuomas Jalamo

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