If’s new office in Espoo embraces employees and the environment

When If started looking for a new office space in the capital region in Finland, we rolled out a map and looked at where our employees live, so that everyone would have a reasonable and practical commute.

In many cases, employees’ wellbeing and sustainability go hand in hand. If’s new office and the choices that were made during planning are great examples of this.

– You would be amazed at how the office in Keilaniemi in Espoo is right in the middle of the map when looking at employees’ homes, says Pirjo Holmén, who is the Head of Premises in Finland.

It is beneficial for employees to have a reasonable commute to work and to have the possibility to choose not to drive, with easy access by public transport. At the same time, the location is also sustainable in terms of saving emissions. Cycling to work is also a fantastic way to stay healthy and look after the planet at the same time.

Pirjo Holmén photo.
Pirjo Holmén, Head of Premises in Finland

– We want to encourage people to cycle. The office has an indoor garage for bikes, where you can also charge your e-bike, and there is a towel service, so you can have a shower after taking your bike to work, explains Pirjo Holmén.

Activity-based working - less space but more options

Employees’ wellbeing was at the centre of the discussions when planning the new Espoo office. More than 2.000 members of staff were given the opportunity to contribute with feedback and ideas about what it means to have the best place to work.

– As the result of our work, If has now received the highest possible WELL certificate, which is Platinum. Ours is the first office in Finland to be awarded this, explains Holmén proudly.

The WELL certificate is an evidence-based certification that aims to support the health and wellbeing of employees by looking at several factors, such as air, water, nourishment, light and fitness.

When the sunlight comes in, the LEDs dim down

green wall at If's office in Espoo

If’s base in Espoo is a smart office where the quality of air, water, sound and lighting is constantly monitored. For example, the lighting adjusts itself based on how much sunlight is being received from outdoors and whether the room is in use or not. This ensures that the lighting is always comfortable for employees, while also saving electricity.

– With the office being so smart, we can easily make adjustments. For example, we have reduced the office temperature according to the guidelines from the Finnish authorities in order to save electricity amid the energy shortage, says Holmén.

Moving the office premises to a new location also meant a change in the working culture at If. With  activity-based working (ABW), no one has their own, assigned seats. Employees access different types of working stations and spaces every day for different tasks and activities. Because the office is being used in a new way, the office space is smaller than before.

– We use less energy to heat or cool the office building now, explains Holmén.

The sustainability mindset is also reflected in the details: If has provided all employees with their own Thermos cups for coffee. There is no disposable tableware used anywhere in the office, and no chemicals are used in cleaning.

– We also require all our suppliers to abide by strict sustainability standards also, adds Holmén.

What is WELL certification?

WELL is a scientific, research-based roadmap that is dedicated to advancing human wellbeing in office spaces. Projects are required to pursue a certain subset of features or strategies within the 10 WELL concepts, including Air, Water, Thermal Comfort, Light, Movement, Nourishment, Sound, Mind, Community and Materials.