Fewer jobs now require an office. Working remotely is the reality for many people in non-manual jobs, now that they can have real-time contact with their coworkers online. Work is also often carried out in teams, with the members located in different cities or even different countries. The culture at work has changed significantly, and employers realize that efficiency can be enhanced by allowing people to work remotely. For those whose jobs involve meetings with clients, it is easier and more efficient to work at a location near their clients.
Freedom of Choice
Tieto is an IT service provider, and the company has numerous clients in downtown Helsinki while its own office is located outside the city center. This means that employees traveling to meetings sometimes spend a lot of time commuting back and forth. For this reason, Tieto decided to use the UMA Workspace, Technopolis’ network of coworking spaces. This allows employees to spend their time as efficiently and meaningfully as possible.
Head of Facilities at Tieto, Ville Jallinoja, says that even more important than saving travel time is having the opportunities and flexibility offered by the coworking spaces. Employees can use the spaces even if they do not have client meetings. “After running personal errands in the city center, for example, you can go to these spaces to work for the remainder of your day instead of traveling all the way back to the main office,” Jallinoja explains the company policy.
According to Jallinoja, Tieto employees have welcomed the opportunity to use the coworking spaces, evidence that there was a need for alternative workspaces. There has been lively discussion on the company intranet. People share coworking experiences and ask for advice. “People have asked if the coworking spaces are distracting and if there are any restaurants nearby that accept lunch vouchers. We’ve seen images of cappuccino and chocolate.” Jallinoja says that some teams have decided to make a day out of it by going to visit and work at the UMA.
Need for Social Interaction
It normally does not make any difference to the employer or the job whether employees work at the office, home, or a coffee shop, but the environment is really important for the employees themselves. Ville Kurkinen is an analyst at Tieto. He used to work at home in order to avoid the long commute. He started working at the UMA Workspace in downtown Helsinki as soon as the company signed the contract.
Kurkinen is involved in projects with team members working in various locations in Finland and overseas. He keeps in touch with his colleagues mainly by phone and the internet. Kurkinen says that the biggest benefit of working away from home is social interaction. “Staying at home all the time can be quite hard,” he says.
Being surrounded by people who are also working makes it clear that you are at work, according to Kurkinen. “I’m not saying that being alone would mean getting lazy, but if you have a specific space for working instead of your own living room, you understand that you’re at work.”
Networking Is Vital for Business
Coworking spaces offer necessary social contacts but some people may be uncomfortable with the idea. How social do you need to be? Is it quiet enough? Kurkinen, who is used to working in an open-plan office, says there is not much difference between that and a coworking space. “I also worked in an open-plan office in Madrid; by comparison, this is like a graveyard,” says Kurkinen. “But an introvert who has worked in the same office for 20 or 30 years would think there are too many distractions here.”
Employees of various companies and freelancers work in the same space in the coworking offices, and this allows them to get to know people from other companies. Jallinoja says that contact with a variety of people is the key to success in today’s business world. In his opinion, using coworking spaces may not be the answer for Tieto in this respect, but it offers everybody great opportunities to meet new people. “If contacts made at the coworking spaces lead to even a couple of functionable relationships, it’s a great success. As usual, little things make big things happen.”
Best Rooms Are Almost Always Empty
Sales Director Jose Hämäläinen works for the construction company Temotek. He gave up his office at the company office and now works at the UMA Workspace. Hämäläinen thinks that coworking spaces offer companies a great way to save money as they are flexible and limit the amount of unused space. “My job as a sales director involves meetings with clients all the time, and my office was mostly empty. I gave it to a supervisor at our company who needs it more than I do. It’s a bit stupid that many companies provide the big bosses with the largest and fanciest rooms even though they are the ones who spend less time there than anybody else.”
Hämäläinen works not only in the Helsinki area but also at other locations in southern Finland, so to him being able to use the coworking spaces in Vantaa and Tampere is great news. He often used to work in coffee shops before the UMA Workspaces were available for him. “Spaces designed for working are much better when it comes to peace and quiet, and you can relax between meetings. And you get coffee there, too,” adds Hämäläinen.
Coworking Is Part of the Change
Granlund is a building services agency based in Malmi, Helsinki. The employees often meet their clients in downtown Helsinki. The company introduced the coworking spaces so its employees could work closer to their clients and focus on work between meetings instead of commuting. The employees travel a lot, and the idea was to give them a suitable place to work in the city center. This allows them to plan their schedules more efficiently, say HR Manager Minna Lappalainen and Executive Assistant Elina Lehti.
The introduction of the coworking space is part of the more extensive changes that the company went through in the summer. It coincided with the renovation of the open-plan office at the head office, and around half of the 350 employees at the Malmi office are now hot desking, i.e., they choose the workstation best suitable for the job at hand.
Francisco Forns-Samsó, a consultant at Granlund, works in international innovation and development. “I am based in Barcelona, but my work brings me to Helsinki a few times a year. It’s very convenient for me that my workplace here is within walking distance from where I am staying at. It means that my time here is not wasted on traveling. My first time working at UMA was a very positive experience”, says Forns-Samsó.
Even larger companies can see the potential of coworking spaces. A shared space makes it easier for a company to fulfill different requirements and is more flexible for employees. A coworking space is a cost-efficient way to work in premium locations. Financial considerations have been a marginal or insignificant factor when companies have decided to make coworking spaces available for their employees. The objective is ultimately to make employees happy and have an edge over other companies when it comes to attracting talented staff.