The Central Baltic Programme 2014-2020 finances result orientated cross-border cooperation projects in Estonia, Finland (incl Åland), Latvia and Sweden

Managing a remote office

Tuesday, March 31, 2020 - 16:32
Our Head of Managing Authority, Merike Niitepõld reflects on keeping the Central Baltic programme on track from her home office in these unusual times.

It will not come to you as any surprise that I am writing this text at home. In only a few weeks the day-to-day life has changed radically. The changes came to the Central Baltic region at slightly different times and in different ways, but the big picture is the same.
Our programme is in full roll with 5th call funding decisions taken and all money having been allocated. On top of that, we are preparing for the next programme. On 10 March we had the Joint Programming Committee meeting and launched the programming process of the Central Baltic programme for the 2021-2027 period. After this things started rolling very quickly. Meeting cancellations started pouring in from all sides. Already on 12 March I left the office with the knowledge that it will take long before I return. At this time I was really wondering how we will tackle our office meetings or the events that we had planned, the cooperation that is an essential part of our work, and the programing for the 2021-2027 period.
So, what am I thinking today, on the 12th day of home office?
I have certainly realised how lucky the Central Baltic team is. Our processes are already 99% online, and we can do almost all our work with very small adjustments from home, as long as we have our computers, phones and an Internet connection.
At the same time, we are faced with a challenge to readjust. Travels are taking the form of homework or limited online discussions. Team meetings are done online. Everyday around the coffee table is done as a chat. Casual talks in the corridors have moved to chats, phone conversations or e-mails.
Our big challenge is the process that was launched on 10 March. How do we agree with closer to 20 regions and our Member States/Åland on the strategy for a programme that will cover almost ten years and maybe 100 million euros. How do we define our objectives so that we all understand them in the same way? How do we build trust?
What is certain is that the programming work will not stop. For that we and all our stakeholders from the regions are too enthusiastic and driven. So, we think of what we can do! The first work of the working group will not be done in a meeting face to face, but instead we are asking for input in a written way. We have the next ”homework” ideas planned, and we are considering some focused online discussions... 
During Christmas we had in our office a ”Christmas Tree” - instead of baubles we put up ideas for what we can do for our Central Baltic region beyond the traditional task of allocating money to projects. This tree and approach came to my mind in this extraordinary time. 
We can contribute with hope. The work for the future - in our case the programme for the 2021-2027 period - will not stop. As we are forced to reconsider our ways of working, we should take a moment to reflect and learn from this time. 
We can contribute with cooperation and connections between people. This is at the core of our work and this we continue - just online for a while.