Sponda’s Kai Aejmelaeus: business premises have become a competitive factor
The digital transformation and changes in working life are shaking up the way business premises are perceived. “Companies must ensure that their premises serve and recharge employees in new ways, or they risk losing their key talent,” says Sponda’s President and CEO Kai Aejmelaeus.
Kai Aejmelaeus sees three main factors behind the changing significance of business premises: the digital transformation, sustainability and increasing competition for top professionals.
“Compared to traditional and more routine tasks, creative work in the digital operating environment places entirely different demands on both the employee’s thinking and the business premises the work is performed on. You need inspiring and community-oriented working environments, premises that take advantage of new technology and quiet break rooms that help the brain recharge,” Aejmelaeus says.
“Making business premises experience-oriented is not enough. The new working culture must permeate the company’s entire operations and its values.”
A company whose corporate culture and business premises fail to live up to the new expectations around work risk overburdening and exhausting their employees — or inadvertently pushing them out of the door in search of new opportunities.
An increasingly important competitive factor
According to Aejmelaeus, another factor contributing to the growing significance of business premises is the increasing competition for top professionals.
The hunt for talent drives companies to invest more and more in the atmosphere, visual appeal and impressiveness of their business premises.
“The trend of focusing on experiences is gradually expanding from the retail sector to office work. In Finland, we are still in the nascent stages of this figurative arms race but, internationally, it’s a phenomenon that has been around for a long time,” Aejmelaeus explains.
Making business premises experience-oriented is not enough in itself. The new working culture must permeate the company’s entire operations and its values.
Aejmelaeus points out that many companies try to use the move to new premises as an opportunity for the renewal of their corporate culture.
“The trend of focusing on experiences is gradually expanding from the retail sector to office work.”
“Changes in business premises make it easy to survey the employees’ needs, hopes and dreams, and then turn them into concrete action. Functional premises can help implement the ways of working that the company aspires to establish and sustainable property solutions can guide behaviour in the desired direction. Technology can also be used to change the way work is performed; for example, by introducing virtual reception services or regular remote meetings.
Business premises have become a stage for displaying corporate values
Aejmelaeus highlights sustainability as a third key factor that is magnifying the significance of business premises.
“The growing sustainability-related expectations of customers, employees and stakeholders put pressure on companies to demonstrate their sustainability. As business premises and corporate culture are the most concrete manifestations of a company’s values, they tend to be the first things that get changed,” Aejmelaeus points out.
“As business premises and corporate culture are the most concrete manifestations of a company’s values, they tend to be the first things that get changed.”
Today, many companies choose to operate in environmentally certified properties and adopt the WWF Green Office standards.
Companies that are on the leading edge of these developments take an increasingly comprehensive approach to promoting healthy lifestyles among employees and they also want their focus on sustainability and responsibility to be reflected in their values.
“An organisation might hire a nutritionist or well-being coach for the office instead of paying for executives to fly halfway across the world to play golf,” Aejmelaeus says.
Business premises are growing into ecosystems
As a leading developer of office properties, Sponda plays a decisive role in determining what kinds of business premises companies have access to now and in the future.
“Our development efforts are based on our experience and robust evidence-based data. We put new and innovative business premises solutions into practice in various ways. Doing this through our MOW coworking concept is one of them,” Aejmelaeus explains.
Sponda’s President and CEO believes that, going forward, companies will look for increasingly comprehensive property services.
“Our aim is to provide companies with entire ecosystems that include all of the services that are essential to the tenant. An office property can include, for example, a grocery shop, occupational health service provider, fitness centre, day-care centre and an elderly home.” Aejmelaeus adds.
Instead of having a single office, a company might have several functional office locations for employees to use as necessary.
The challenge in property development is that the concept of business premises is constantly changing. Instead of having a single office, a company might have several functional office locations for employees to use as necessary.
The need for a long-term view also presents certain challenges. In practice, the provider of business premises must respond to customer needs even before the customers themselves have identified those needs.
Aejmelaeus points out that, in spite of the need for rapid development, you can never compromise on quality and your values.
“You have to be responsible as an industry leader. All of your development efforts must take the environment and the long-term perspective into consideration,” he concludes.
Sponda was recently ranked first among Finnish companies in the property sector’s international GRESB 2018 sustainability benchmark study. In 2017, Sponda received the highest scores in Europe among its peer group and the company was also selected as a Sector Leader in 2017 in recognition of its commitment to sustainable development.
Kai Aejmelaeus was recently appointed as Sponda’s new President and CEO. He is a business leader with a strong international background whose mission is to drive the evolution of Sponda and its entire industry towards even greater innovation and sustainability.