Interior design Tarja Pyrhönen and Päivi Pentikäinen
Helsinki, Finland, 2018

From personal offices to activity-based office

For over a hundred years, Felm's, Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission, premises were located in a historic building, where the personnel worked in their own offices along a maze of corridors over several floors.

In 2016, a decision was made to move to new premises, where it would be easier to implement one of Felm’s core values: working together. Problems with indoor air quality were another reason to seek new premises.

New premises support change in corporate culture

Moving to new premises was an opportunity to transform the entire organisational culture. Therefore, the planning of the new premises was based on involving the entire personnel in the change.

Before looking for new premises, a survey was made to analyse the kind of work done in the organisation and the optimal space requirements for the working methods. The entire personnel was involved in planning the shared spaces and the new working methods that could be enabled by the move.

From individual to shared workstations

The new space is an activity-based office, where the emphasis is on daily interaction and equal encounters. It was also important to create comfortable new spaces, to encourage the employees to come to the office.

One of the decisions that required the most though was the number of workstations. In the end, it was decided that fewer workstations were needed than employees, as not all employees are at the office at the same time. The freed-up space was used for pleasant areas for working together. All spaces and workstations are in shared use, and everyone can choose a location that suits their work.

Considerable improvement in the atmosphere at work

Moving from personal offices to more open spaces means the working environment is slightly less peaceful, but this has been compensated by freedom of choice. A silent room offers a place for full concentration, and the cafeteria – the heart of the office – has become the common living room and meeting place of all employees.

Spontaneous discussions and meetings have clearly increased since the introduction of the new open premises.

Six months after the move, 67 % of the employees felt that moving to the new premises had improved the atmosphere at work and 72 % of them felt that working together had increased.

There are more opportunities for employees to control how peaceful their working environment is, and the pleasant workspace has reduced remote working. During the first couple of months, the users have been very pleased with their new premises. As one Felm employee put it, “People have got to know each other in a new way and we now truly have ‘one common Felm’”.