A new project funded by the Ministry of Agriculture will explore multi-locality from the point of view of companies and their employers: is place-independence becoming the future norm of successful companies?

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Although remote working and place-independent work have already been examined extensively from both the public administration implications and individual perspectives, less data is available in respect of the incentives for and impacts on private sector operators. However, the private sector and the activities of private sector companies remain key in terms of the future of place-independent  work, as the majority of jobs are located in the private sector. In the PAALI project, MDI addresses place-independence from the perspective of companies, their employees, management practices and operating processes. The main goal of the project is to determine whether enabling place-independence in companies has an effect on employees’ residential choices and by extension, whether rural areas have benefitted from such practices. In the project, we seek to answer the research question,”How does place-independent work made possible by companies affect residential choices and aspects of rural vitality and wellbeing?”

The sub-goals of the project are as follows: 1) Deepen our knowledge of how companies respond to employee expectations and changes in the operating environment with place-independent recruitment and other activities that support multi-location; 2) What kinds of solutions, in practice, does location-independence offer companies and their employees and how does this change the work culture and companies’ multi-location capabilities? How do management practices respond and change; how do work practices and community factors develop? How have these changes, actual or potential, been experienced from the perspective of the employees, has the promise of a better work/ life balance been realised? Does location independence improve the employer’s image, and if so, how? Does it create other types of added value for companies? And 3) How is the potential for place-independent work and recruitment realised in terms of rural areas and how could it be further strengthened?

In the project, cooperation is carried out, e.g., with the Maaseudun Tulevaisuus newspaper. The main data collection methods consist of surveys, aimed at companies and the readers of Maaseudun Tulevaisuus. Surveys and supplementary interviews provide information on individual employees’ motivational factors, obstacles to and enablers of moving and the forms and importance of place-independent career development and support networks. At the company level, the change in management, the implementation of self-direction in practice and the adaptation of different management tools to the conditions of location independence are also mapped.

The data collection methods will include the analysis of written material (focusing in particular on recent projects dealing with multi-location and location independence), company surveys and case studies analysing good practices and operating models that strengthen location independence, on the basis of which workshops and brainstorming sessions will, subsequently, be organised.

The project is funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, based on a decision of The National Rural Policy Council, with the funding of the Development Fund for Agriculture and Forestry (Makera).

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