Place-independent value creation as a phenomenon

In the PAALI project, we addressed multilocality and place-independent work from the perspective of companies and their employees as well as that of management practices and operating processes. Our main goal was to discover whether enabling place-independent work practices has an effect on employees’ residential choices and whether multilocality has benefited rural areas in practice. Our main research question was, “How does location-independent work made possible by companies affect residence choices and rural vitality factors?”The sub-goals of the project were: 1) To deepen knowledge about how companies respond to employee expectations and changes in the operating environment with their place-independent recruitment and other activities that support multi-location; 2) What kinds of solutions does location independence offer companies and their employees in practice and how do these change the work culture and companies’ multi-location capabilities? How does management change, how do work practices and community factors change? What is the experience of companies, their management and employees: from the employees’ point of view, is the promise of a better balance between work life and the rest of everyday life fulfilled? Does location independence improve the employer image or does it create added value that benefits other companies? and 3) How is the potential of location-independent work and recruitment realised in terms of rural areas and how could it be further strengthened?

In the project, cooperation was carried out, e.g. with the newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus. Our data collection methods included two surveys, while complementary interviews provided information on individual employees’ motivational factors, obstacles and enablers of locating in rural areas, the forms and importance of place-independent career development and support networks. At the company level, the issues were connected to management practice and the realisation of self-organisational practice, as well as the adaptation of different place-independent management tools. Surveys were followed by case studies analysing good practices and operating models that strengthen location independence, as well as by workshops and brainstorming sessions.

The project was funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry on the proposal of a project group set up by the Rural Policy Council, with financing from the Rural Development Fund’s national rural research and development projects.