building healthy workplace cultures in distributed teams

    The e-⁠resident co-founders of Vaeliou are on a mission to improve team and business performance by building inclusive business cultures and brands

    They key to build a thriving company culture when working remotely
    How to build a thriving company culture.

    The last time we featured e-resident Dr. Priya E. Abraham on the blog was in February 2020. Back then, Priya’s main mission was to equip solopreneurs with the tools needed to go from cyber lost to cyber boss. The location-independent, digital entrepreneur was particularly interested in keeping remote businesses cybersavvy, by changing online behaviour, protecting businesses, and ultimately improving the human condition. 

    Little did we know that only a few weeks after that blog post was first published (it was updated and re-published in December 2022), a pandemic would dramatically shift the way people live, work and do business around the world. The almost overnight switch to remote-first employment and digital transformation brought Priya’s mission and focus to the forefront. It also led to new entrepreneurial opportunities, which will be the focus of this article.

    Finding opportunities after the pandemic

    Dr. Priya E. Abraham is a business anthropologist and digital transformation strategist. She has long-time, global experience in organisational development across industries, working with both startups and established enterprises.  We covered Priya’s fascinating and varied academic and professional career in the previous article, as well as her nomadic experiences in the US, the UK, Middle East, and Africa. 

    Priya became an e-⁠resident in 2017 and established Cyberconnecting OÜ in 2018. Cyberconnecting advises and coaches solopreneurs and small businesses about safeguarding their digital interests and cyberbrands. 

    After the pandemic hit, Priya was in a prime position to help business leaders upgrade their remote work processes. From experience, Priya saw a real need for a new service offering for business leaders. This led to Priya launching Vaeliou, a new venture co-founded with fellow, like-minded e-⁠resident entrepreneur, Oliver. 

    “While working with business leaders, I noticed the increased demand for engagement and collaboration in remote and hybrid work. They mostly failed in their attempts to replicate the corporate culture in remote spaces. I knew the time for Vaeliou had come. The underlying research and methodology were ready and tested. I had successfully run the MVP with test users and clients. In light of the demand, it was the perfect time to develop Vaeliou further.”

    Vaeliou is a boutique SaaS application built on an integrative anthropological approach to work and people. It's based on Priya’s own phD research and publications. It aims to radically change the behaviours and priority needs of businesses to bring out the best in their people.

    Priya met co-founder Oliver Gasser at a meeting of eerica (the Estonian e-residents international chamber association) in 2018. Oliver is the founder of moduulo OÜ. He has had a long career in development and digitalisation and is skilled in modern web technologies, process optimization, and implementing strategic software in growing businesses. On meeting Oliver thanks to their e-resident connection, Priya noted the benefits of the networking opportunities brought by e-⁠Residency:

    “Residency is a door opener to an international network presenting high-calibre experts from various fields. The input and feedback from entrepreneurs and business leaders were invaluable for our solution.”

    Recently, Priya took some time with e-⁠Residency's Head of Content Hannah Brown to chat more about Cyberconnecting, Vaeliou and her e-⁠Residency journey. You can view the video on YouTube here:

    Optimal performance stems from a healthy workplace culture

    Vaeliou works to help distributed business teams thrive by building a healthy workplace culture and brand. The sum of individual and team identities form company culture. Workplace culture in turn, informs a company’s values, how its people establish meaningful work relationships, how it attracts talent, and generates leads. 

    Research shows that 12 identity elements are the critical success factors for building a thriving company culture. Thus, culture needs a bottom-up approach with emphasis placed on a team’s individual roles and identities. The behaviour-centric identity approach is the foundation of Vaeliou’s methodology

    Adding remote and hybrid work environments into the mix requires innovative tech and other solutions to help people connect and engage. Vaeliou provides clear, measurable concepts of what company culture is and how people's identity(ies) contribute to it. This is made available in a practical and measurable SaaS tool that brings the required statistical reliability required in modern human resources practices. 

    Priya and her team provide tailored, data driven solutions to B2B leaders and teams to unlock their full collective potential. Results include increased growth, talent attraction and retention, and optimal performance. 

    Eye-opening insights on culture lead to trust and changed behaviours

    Priya recounted a recent client case study to illustrate how Vaeliou works in practice to support better workplace culture and team engagement.

    “A client came to us with a problem. A team member kept cancelling his participation in synchronous online and international in-person meetings at short notice, causing unnecessary stress and conflicts in the team, and leading to delayed delivery times. As a result, the company lost a critical customer. The team leader needed clarification of the cause and potential solutions. The client decided to use the Vaeliou app and its insights and recommendations.”

    After using the Vaeliou app, the client’s team members gave their feedback. They noted overall that it was truly eye-opening to visualise how they worked as a team. Especially, where were the gaps and what were their strong overlaps. They commented that “the combined synchronous and asynchronous reflection process helped us review our perceptions and behaviours.”

    One of the team’s main strengths in the remote context relates to their truly global nature. The diverse team lived and worked across different time zones and spoke seven different languages. This revealed strong overlaps on how they could support each other in various ways. The team gave feedback that this “was a game changer and sparked much trust”.

    The visual mapping of the team’s identity and behaviour characteristics led them to see their strong overlaps. As a result, they began to understand the value of sharing with and learning from colleagues.  For example, by learning about relevant geopolitical situations (one of the 12 identity elements) and the implications for business and clients. Or championing wellbeing (another identity element) to improve the mood and motivation of all team members.

    The team reported amazing results as a result of Vaeliou’s insights. These included:

    • increased trust
    • results reflected on workplace culture and behaviours
    • optimised synchronous and asynchronous work output
    • managed deadlines and reduced absence times, and
    • leveraged team diversity to tackle global challenges.

    For e-resident founders interested in learning more about their own workplace culture, check out VAELIOU’s Starter Package for immediate insights.

    2023 will undoubtedly be an exciting year of growth for Vaeliou. As Priya concludes:

    “Upon our initial successes in 2022, we will significantly expand our partner network. Further to user feedback, we'll further explore the tool's application in M&A due diligence processes. As such, the team will grow, and we will continue automating our service as to the very nature of SaaS.”

    Are you interested in joining a global business network of 100,000 like-minded entrepreneurs, like Priya? Find out how you could benefit from our community and apply now!

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