Humanize IT Tales from Around the World Sweden
Welcome to the fourth and final episode of Humanize IT: Tales from Around the World!
In this episode Josef Nord from Stockholm, Sweden, owner of an MSP called ByBrick, talks about his country’s “self-accountability” approach to the pandemic and discusses how business and technology have evolved in recent months.
Life in Sweden
Running an MSP has been one heck of a ride this year, according to Josef, Adam and Skip. Josef said he was naive at first and didn’t think the pandemic was going to affect him much. The three of them each recalled when the reality of COVID finally hit them. For Josef, it was when he got an email about his gym shutting down. For Adam, it was when he got the call that his kids wouldn’t be returning to school. For Skip, it was the grocery stores changing their hours.
These occurrences might seem small, but we’re only human — it’s the everyday things that affect us directly and personally that make reality finally sink in.
Like the U.S., Sweden’s restrictions have been relatively light compared to others, to the point where the country has received some criticism and backlash. Their strategy has always been to flatten the curve and protect older and more vulnerable people, but many establishments were trusted to impose their own guidelines.
Sweden has no martial law possibilities within their constitution, so it was more about following recommendations and individually taking responsibility. But even without a mandate, most people and places did the right thing. Also, like other countries, the overall demeanor of empathy and kindness toward strangers increased.
Josef mostly works with clients who provide services rather than goods, so they avoided the initial strike of the pandemic and had a little more time to prep for change. The first thing they did was stock up on office equipment when their supplies were cut from China.
Other than that, the majority of his customers were already set up on Office 365 and Google with servers hosted within ByBrick’s data centers, meaning nothing was locally hosted and the transition to home went quite smoothly for most. Many had already moved to the cloud, too, so there was little change, if any.
The main focus with his already technologically equipped clients was increasing security measures. As we discussed in our Canada episode, phishing attempts increase when disaster strikes and people are distracted, so this was a big priority for Josef and his team.
To Digital or Not to Digital
The real challenge for many countries was making business seminars, meetings and all other forms of communication digital, and Sweden was no exception.
But with customers who were already cloud-based or close to it, the problem wasn’t the technology itself — it was changing their behaviors toward technology. Taking the time to learn and adapt is the hardest part, which explains why it often takes years for life-changing technology to be adapted on a large scale.
The cloud, for example, existed for a decade before people saw it as a viable, everyday option. Zoom went from 10 to 300 million users in months, even though it’s been around for 9 years. Microsoft Teams saw similar statistics. When it comes down to it, people are apprehensive to change their ways. New technology needs a “push” to make the public take it seriously and spread it widely.
Another problem, Josef said, is feeling out the situation for when it’s socially acceptable to meet digitally vs. in person. Pre-pandemic, physical meetings were seen as a bigger commitment. If you were 15 minutes away but asked your clients to chat digitally, it could come off as rude or a lack of effort in Sweden. Now that things have changed, it will be interesting to see how these norms have altered once society bounces back.
Adam, on the other hand, thinks digital meetings are appropriate for almost any setting. Not having to reserve a room, travel to the site and deal with small talk makes business run more efficiently in his eyes. Plus, he utilizes a variety of Twitch-inspired features in video and audio that makes client encounters more interesting than staring at a blank screen.
Overall, as long as people stay present during digital meetings, there’s no reason these can’t become a regular occurrence after the pandemic ends. Businesses should take advantage of these digital methods while engaging with clients and maintaining a mutual sense of respect.
Stay tuned for next week’s episode where Skip and Adam recap 'Tales from Around the World'.