Want to see an absolutely inspirational office space in Finland? Share this post with your boss if your office happens to be draining the life out of you because honest to goodness, a nice work environment can make a huge impact on the quality of your work and therefore your life. No lie.
A little story… when I worked in facilities I remember very clearly the increased levels of productivity and happiness when we renovated spaces from dull lifeless cube farms into hip, trendy work environments. One project involved planning a complete floor gut and build, which was exceptionally fun and challenging with 16 hour days being the norm as we all pushed through to complete the project on deadline. From ergonomics experts to designers, architects and art curators, I dealt with them all but funny this was that the experts didn’t really know what the employees really needed. In the end, the best conversations I had, the most informative, generally involved the actually employees and the ridiculous amounts of surveys we had to conduct. I regularly sat down with team leads who would gather information from their direct reports regarding space needs and communicate those back to me. Most desired to not only feel like their space supported them but that it was a place where they felt proud to call their second home.
As I sat down with secretaries, software engineers, business analysts, graphic designers, HR specialists, it really did not matter their function — their needs were the same. They craved access to natural lighting (or at least light sources that mimicked it), access to their peers while yet maintaining some level or privacy, and mobility — they desired to be able to work anywhere on the floor whether it be their cube, an empty office, the lobby, some even liked to stand in the kitchen and use their laptop at the bar. The more I conducted these surveys and read studies, the more I felt confident that in our newly acquired space we could really meet their needs. We had access to plenty of natural light, the executive overseeing the project was keenly interested in employee mobility and the importance of community building at work, and privacy was important to him, too. In the end, after a year of planning, listening to the employees, and then building and moving, the new environment was a total success.
The morning employees arrived in their new office space their faces were full of excitement and hope. Over the months it was noticeable that the entire morale had changed from mellow and slightly depressed to joyous and eager to get in and not so eager to leave at night as they had been before. In the former space we had this joke that the fire drill sounded everyday at 5:00 p.m. It didn’t of course, but as hundreds of employees bolted for the elevators all at once, we couldn’t help but think there was some kind of evacuation notice we’d missed. Of course, this was just a sign of very unhappy workers. Was it their job in the end that made them miserable?
For most, no. It was their work environment. Since that time office design in America has come a long way, especially in Boston. Though still, many offices exist that do not support the employee and some go as far as to expose them to certain health risks all in the name of saving a buck. It’s sad but true. That’s why I really like this website called This Ain’t No Disco (it’s where we work), which I found via Kali’s blog. I wish it had existed back when I was working in facilities, I could have really used it for inspiration. It’s devoted to sharing good-looking creative agencies based all over the world, though I don’t think that only creative agencies should look good — all work environments should be welcoming and encourage creativity and and a sense of community in my opinion. Love this concept, what a great blog idea! You have to check it out and if you know of any space planners or facilities managers out there, share This Ain’t No Disco with them!