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Elisa moves to Ratina – unique office space process puts the employees first

In its plans to move to Ratina, the most state-of-the-art office property in Tampere, technology company Elisa is involving its employees in the office space process and closely monitoring the results. 

A brightly coloured tent has been set up in the Elisa offices. Some employees are testing various chairs, one is using a desk exercise bike and one is relaxing in a massage chair playing ambient sounds.

One of the most popular workplaces in Finland, Elisa allows its employees to personally select their methods and places of work.

This is the Elisan Unelmien Toimitila (‘Elisa Office of Dreams’) workshop where employees can test inspiring furniture solutions available for their new office.

Tested and continuously developing office space process

“Our relocation tactic is not to focus solely on the premises but to use the shift in the social, physiological and digital working culture to guide the process. The goal of the process is to support the company’s business operations and strategic objectives in the long run,” says Ari Saarinen, CRE Management Manager at Elisa.

Inspiring furniture solutions are tested in the Unelmien Toimitila workshop. The goal is to consider the possible elements, atmospheres and soundscapes of the new office.

Occupying dozens of office premises, the company is used to relocations, and its outstanding ability to create and test its own unique processes stems from a working culture that is focused on continuous development.

Ratina offers us a top location, state-of-the-art building service systems and smart office space solutions.

The process is based on Elisa’s Ideal Work model in which the employees are primarily allowed to select the methods and places of working that best suit their preferences and tasks.

Remote work is one of the available options, and it is heavily used by the personnel; each employee works remotely about 77 days per year.

The employees get to test various types of office and break room furniture. They can even opt for a desk exercise bike instead of a chair.

Focusing on employee satisfaction

According to Sinikka Pylkkänen, Elisa’s Project Manager in charge of the Ratina relocation process, involving the employees is the most important of the office space process.

“A happy and healthy employee increases the company’s productivity, and the working conditions also play a huge role in the company’s image as an employer. We systematically involve the employees in the process and constantly measure both general employee satisfaction and the employees’ satisfaction with the premises. We want to ensure that the development work fulfils the employees’ needs.”

Each employee will have the opportunity to express their wishes for the premises, which will serve as the basis for defining the five core objectives of the new premises.

This employee-oriented development work has also been publicly commended. The company has been listed as one of the best workplaces in Finland for three consecutive years, and it also won the Finnish Quality Award this year.

Students also rank Elisa as one of the most popular employers in the IT industry.

Ratina enabled smart spatial solutions

Elisa opted for the Sponda-owned Ratina as the location of its new offices.

To be completed in 2020, the property is about to become the most state-of-the-art office and retail property in Tampere with direct internal transport connections to the services and parking facilities of the Ratina shopping centre.

To be completed in 2020, the first floor of Ratina is surrounded by a glass facade. One of the best features in the premises is the spectacular lobby space connected to the shopping centre.

“We chose Ratina due to its excellent location and wide range of auxiliary services. The modern building service systems of Ratina enable us to utilise smart and adjustable office solutions according to our preferences and ensure our knowledge management and guidance processes,” says Saarinen.

According to Saarinen, the choice of business property and office space partner has a crucial impact on the physical working environment and, as a result, the entire work culture.

“If the basic elements of the premises are faulty, there’s no use trying to create well-being, atmosphere or sustainability with furniture solutions or superficial policies.”  

“As a technology company, we also want to be pioneers in the development of working culture. Ratina offers us state-of-the-art building service systems as well as smart office solutions,” says CRE Management Manager Ari Saarinen.

Pylkkänen also mentions the coworking space MOW at Ratina as a factor increasing the added value of the location.

“We are currently investigating whether our customers or partners could utilise the coworking space for their follow-up work.”

The Holy Trinity of working environment

According to Saarinen, the operating environment is divided into three subsections at Elisa.

The physical working environment refers to the office space and remote work solutions. The digital environment refers to the tools, virtual solutions and the utilisation of smart building service systems, whereas the social environment relates to the methods of working, the atmosphere and the strategic development of the working culture.    

“Our goals is not to invest in wow factors but to genuinely provide solutions that make work easier for our employees,” explains Sinikka Pylkkänen who runs the office space process with Saarinen.

“The physical and digital conditions create the framework for the development of the social working environment. The social working environment is a kind of locomotive supported by the other environments,” explains Saarinen.

In the office space process, the key point is to develop all the subsections equally. 

“Neglecting the development of the digital environment in favour of the physical environment has a negative impact on productivity and, for example, on the efficiency of remote work. Bringing a massage chair to the office is not enough; people won’t dare to use it unless the attitudes and corporate culture are moulded accordingly,” says Saarinen.

In Elisa’s office space process, the working environment is divided into physical, digital and social subsections and the aim is to develop all the subsections equally. 

Relaxation and surprises

The current workshop provides an outline of the type of office planned for Ratina.

The personnel and the project team have specified five features they are looking for: the premises should be relaxed and adaptable and they should inspire a sense of community, ensure mobility and offer an element of surprise. 

The premises should be relaxed and adaptable and they should inspire a sense of community, ensure mobility and offer an element of surprise.

“We want a relaxed office to reflect the easy-going way of life in Tampere, and by mobility, we mean diverse ways of working enabled by the digital age; ensuring that all connectors and remote connections work and that the environment encourages people to move around instead of sitting at their desk all day long,” explains Pylkkänen.

The workshop includes mood boards presenting the colour themes and material choices planned for different floors.

All the premises will be designed as multispace offices, meaning that no one will have a designated desk. The company invests in virtual project spaces, quiet spaces and premises that inspire people to interact.

“An element of surprise forces us to continuously develop our operations. Our goal is to have an office that is so comfortable and supportive of people’s well-being that employees would much rather work there than from home,” says Pylkkänen with a laugh.  

Steps of Elisa’s office space process:

  1. Gathering the project team: Gathering a project team consisting of HR, office and IT experts, personnel representatives and the necessary partners.
  2. Physical needs assessment: Analysing the spatial needs based on previous projects, determining the options for the ideal location of the premises in terms of the employees and customers and specifying the building’s technological requirements. 
  3. Requests for tenders: Creating a rough layout to send requests for tenders to various office space providers.
  4. Project plan: Starting the project plan with the constructor or owner of the premises.
  5. Involving the employees: Involving the employees in the design work through surveys and workshops – analysing the old working environment and the employees’ preferences.
  6. Setting goals: Summarising the employees’ needs and preferences into five core objectives.
  7. Exemplifying the goals: Using the help of partners to find practical model solutions, prototypes of furniture and methods and testing them in workshops. Creating mood boards to illustrate various spaces.  
  8. Implementing and testing the premises and relocating
  9. Monitoring general employee satisfaction and satisfaction with the office and continuously developing the working environment

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