In spring 2018, a great opportunity arose in Porvoo to pilot the government’s fully co-working spaces, when both the Tax Administration and the National Land Survey of Finland needed to update their working environments and renew their leases. Both the Tax Administration and the National Land Survey of Finland have had some trials with co-working spaces in the past, but not at this scale.
Olli Aalto, Facility Services Director at the Tax Administration, and Elina Aaltonen, Facilities Services Manager at the National Land Survey of Finland, say that the pilot was quite a study trip. There were many issues resolved for the first time when pulling down the boundary fences between the two agencies. Although the answers were not always easy to find, it was nice to look for them together, they said.
“In Porvoo, everything fell into place. Both agencies were of optimal size. The facilities now provide a pleasant working environment for 60 employees of the Tax Administration and 35 employees of the National Land Survey of Finland,” says Olli Aalto.
“Great to be at the forefront”
Both Olli Aalto at the Tax Administration and Elina Aaltonen at the National Survey of Finland raise their hats to the personnel at their agencies and the project team, which included a local supervisor and employees from both agencies.
“Project team members acted as agents of change. They both conveyed valuable information and messages to us and talked to the personnel. The team members did a great job of making the project such a success so fast and in a positive spirit. Many government agencies are now taking a close look at our model. Employees elsewhere want modern, healthy, safe and smart co-working spaces,” says Aaltonen.
Transforming work requires work environments that support collaboration with spaces for both teamwork and tasks requiring concentration. Contemporary workspaces increase the well-being of the personnel, guarantee better services to citizens and reduce facility costs.
“At the Tax Administration, we have been involved in this development for some time starting with the Director General. Digitalisation is changing the world and many jobs are becoming location-independent. It’s great to be at the forefront of developing new work solutions,” says Olli Aalto.
“The customer can focus on their core business”
The design and implementation of a fully co-working environment in Porvoo for the Tax Administration and the National Land Survey of Finland has also been an interesting and unique project for account managers Karin Hukkanen and Riitta Sirén at Senate Properties, who are responsible for the Tax Administration and National Land Survey of Finland respectively.
“The Tax Administration and the National Land Survey of Finland are pioneering agencies that are ready to be the first to try many things. Dialogue with them has always been good and straightforward. We clearly communicated that this is a pilot for us too and new in central government. We don’t provide everything on a plate, but develop the concept and make the change together,” says Hukkanen.
Under the Government’s Premises Strategy, work environments of the 2020s will be increasingly co-working spaces. The digital leap created by coronavirus is only accelerating this trend, as the transformation of work into multi-locations seems to be reducing the need for office space even more than anticipated.
“When planning something new, we also always consider the possibility of co-working in order to make wise use of the government’s limited resources. Particularly in smaller localities, co-working also creates a higher-quality and more versatile working environment for an individual public official, which might not otherwise be economically possible,” Riitta Sirén says.
Development of the premises aims to accelerate the change in the government’s operating and organisational culture. Along the way, Senate Properties employees have picked up valuable lessons in implementing co-working to retain optimal customer experience and to enable our learnings to be shared nationwide.
“Along the way, we have sought to develop a service package in which the concept comes through Senate Properties. The project was also a service design project at the same time. We want to communicate to customers that we produce an entire work environment – starting with the installation and cleaning of work centre equipment. Instead of the functioning of the work environment, the customer can focus purely on their core business,” Riitta Sirén says.
“We emphasised plastic-free construction”
Karin Hukkanen says that the Porvoo project was also a circular economy pilot for Senate Properties, whose experiences and lessons will be widely drawn on in new work environment projects.
“We addressed methods that reduce the carbon footprint, increase energy efficiency, the circular economy and plastic-free construction. We have collected information on reusable materials and compared costs with traditionally implemented construction projects. The aim was to keep as much as possible of the existing facilities so that we minimise the environmental impacts of the project.”