Interview with Morten Lundqvist, Norner
Norner was founded 10 years ago after more than 30 years as part of a large petrochemical corporation, and is now a plastics and polymer development institute. Norner is endeavouring to make a difference in the sector by exploring opportunities and discovering sustainable solutions. Their ambition is to be a global, independent innovation partner for the polymer value chain. Morten Lundqvist works as Head of Research at Norner in Norway and is part of the management team. In an interview, he talks about the training initiative that was conducted alongside Effektiv Nu.
Morten came into contact with Effektiv Nu about a year ago. This occurred through a colleague, who told him about Effektiv Nu and who was familiar with the courses. The conversation with that colleague sparked Morten’s curiosity, and there was also an identified need.
“The combination of digital tools and a sustainable way of working was of interest to us, and we decided to meet Effektiv Nu to find out more. Following Effektiv Nu’s presentation, we felt that we wanted to invest in the Personal Efficiency course. At first, our intention was for only one department to take the course, but after an internal discussion the decision was made that all 60 or so employees would attend. The training initiative ran from April 2018 to August 2018.”
What challenges were you facing before you attended the course?
“We were in a situation where we had moved into a production phase, which entailed many new assignments and projects that had to be delivered and finalised. The employees’ workload increased during this phase and, as a result, so did their stress levels. We identified that we needed to find a more efficient way of working in order to deal with this. A sustainable working method, where everyone can gain more control over their own work and consequently reduce their stress,” says Morten.
“Another challenge was that we possessed varying levels of technical knowledge. The average age among the workforce at Norner is fairly high, as the assignments we carry out require experience and, frequently, several years of expertise and/or training. Improving everyone’s degree of technical know-how raises the minimum level for the entire organisation.”
What did you think of the course?
“It was good that the course was divided into three stages, so that we had the opportunity to practise in between. We opted for an additional stage to give our employees the opportunity to train even more and to rehearse and immerse themselves in the technical functions. The studybuddy system has been great, as we have been able to practise together and learn from each other. This has led to the internal dissemination of knowledge, i.e. those who have achieved a higher level of technical expertise have been able to share this with their colleagues.
“The course leaders have been credible, educationally minded and highly skilled. They have maintained an excellent attitude whenever we have met, which has contributed to a positive, good atmosphere in the group. Thanks to their clarity regarding what is expected of us and the transparency of the meeting rules, we have been able to focus fully on the course and, as a result, have also had a greater opportunity to take on board the content of the training. In fact, this transparency as regards the meeting rules has helped many of us to improve when it comes to holding our own meetings as well.”
According to Morten, the sense is that everyone is extremely satisfied with the course, and that there is a positive attitude towards learning more and practising.
“Before we started the course, there was a certain amount of scepticism and questioning: “Are we really going to spend so much time on this?” In retrospect, however, I have not heard anyone who has felt that it has been a waste of time – quite the reverse. We think the course has been excellent!”
What effects have you seen?
“The training was an eye-opener as regards all the possibilities that exist in our modern technical tools. We have been motivated to work in a smarter way with our inbox, to empty it and to convert e-mails into tasks. This has been extremely instructive for many of us! The same applies to the search options and the filtering tools in Outlook, being able to search for and find e-mails more easily, and working with an archive folder rather than a large number of different folders.
“The introduction to OneNote as a work tool has enabled us to work more efficiently. There are opportunities to cooperate amongst ourselves, and also to keep ourselves up-to-date regarding projects or negotiations without having to attend the meetings themselves.”
Morten states that providing internal training for 60 people is obviously a big investment for a company, both in terms of time and cost.
“However, this is an investment that we absolutely believe will pay for itself. If we can free up one hour a week from pure administration duties in favour of other work, such as further development, then it is worth its weight in gold! We are already seeing that the course has helped us to work more efficiently and reduce stress. The most important outcome for us is that we are obtaining greater control over our working situation, and are thereby reducing our stress levels.”
How are you moving forward after the course?
“We are now trying out and practising a new way of working. The challenge for us in the future will be to maintain this for each and everyone. We need a little time to work it in fully and to establish the structure. By structure, I mean jointly determining how we should use OneNote, for example, which is a new work tool for many of us. There will involve working internally to create the structure for sharing OneNote in each department.
“We will continue to cooperate with Effektiv Nu, of course, and it may be necessary at a later stage to arrange opportunities for our new employees, to ensure that they have the same basic level of knowledge as their colleagues. We will be able to resolve some of this internally through the spreading of knowledge, but it is of course an advantage if everyone enjoys the same conditions in the new way of working.”
When Morten is asked if he would recommend Effektiv Nu’s course to other companies, he replies:
“100%! I would be more than happy to act as a reference if anyone wants to hear more about our experiences and how things have worked out for us.”