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  • The coronavirus spring started discussions about the future of open plan offices, but a bigger transformation has been in progress for a long time

The coronavirus spring started discussions about the future of open plan offices, but a bigger transformation has been in progress for a long time

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YIT Corporation News June 16, 2020, 1:00 p.m.

The exceptional spring 2020 changed the daily routines of many office workers when they moved from the office to remote work. With companies slowly returning to offices, now is the right time to consider what kind of working environment would support the operations of each company ideally.

The exceptional situation of spring 2020 has forced companies all over the world to renew the way they work. “The transformation has, however, been bubbling under the surface for much longer,” says Tuula Klemetti, Sales Director of Business Premises at YIT.

The nature of work has changed radically over the past couple of decades. Digitalisation has led to the automation of routine duties and brought up more space for creativity, innovation and different core business duties. The world has gotten smaller and telecommuting has shown that people can work almost anywhere and with anyone. At the same time, also the premises where people work have changed, and many companies have switched from individual office rooms to an open plan office.

“This has sometimes been extreme: some companies have changed their offices into poorly functioning open offices in the name of efficiency or cost savings without considering the type of work and the work methods at all,” Klemetti says.

Klemetti believes that in the aftermath of the exceptional spring, it is a good time to take a step back and consider the change to workspaces over the longer term. A reform of the workspace always requires taking a look at the company culture and the way people work there.

“When renovating its premises, a company should challenge its processes and reconsider both the good and poor practices. What is the daily path that employees in different roles take every day, and what do they need to make it smoother?” Klemetti asks.

The new ways of working also create new challenges to leadership. With the increased mobility of work, common goals must be set very clearly so that the working community that is telecommuting, working in the office or at home, can function efficiently towards the shared goals. Telecommuting does not necessarily mean just the home office anymore. It also includes digital contacts from the office since employees of the same company may participate in a videoconference from different continents. Instead of large auditoriums, there may very well be more demand in the future for studios with good network connections that can be used for broadcasting events throughout the world,” Klemetti envisages.

The future office is a part of urban structure under development–ecologically

Noble ideas of keeping pace with the change are not enough as such. Quick and practical reactions are also required. YIT’s goal is to cut in half the carbon dioxide emissions of its own operations by 2030 compared to the 2019 level.

Renovation projects are an efficient way to impact the carbon footprint.

“According to a recent master’s thesis done for YIT, as much as 60% of the carbon dioxide emissions of a building are bound to its frame. Renovating an existing office building to give it new life is therefore an environmentally friendly option. Even when all the surfaces, interiors and technical building systems are replaced, there are no new emissions caused by the building frame, which reduces the carbon footprint of the project considerably compared to constructing a new building,” says Tuuli Korjus, Project Development Manager at YIT.

Korjus mentions YIT’s commercial property renovations as a good example of projects where the building gets a new life through renovation with a considerably smaller carbon footprint than in new construction: Maistraatinportti in Pasila and Teollisuuskatu 13–15 in Vallila. The Maistraatinportti project is, in fact, a pilot project for the calculation of project’s carbon footprint using a CO2 calculator. The calculation is linked to YIT’s commitment to report the project-specific CO2 key figures of its self-developed projects starting from 2020. A further objective is to develop carbon-neutral properties whose use creates no emissions. Smart and well-thought out technical building systems offer one of the ways of controlling the consumption of energy during use in the Maistraatinportti and Teollisuuskatu 13–15 projects.

In addition to engineering solutions, ecological sustainability is also closely linked to smart urban planning. New projects are being built in the business region of Pasila/Vallila/Kalasatama, a strong focal point of development for the City of Helsinki as well. 

“We do not just renovate buildings; instead, we create a good working environment,” Klemetti describes. Korjus adds: “Location is a truly significant factor from the perspective of a building’s lifecycle emissions. The easier it is for employees to come to work using public transport, bicycles or on foot, the smaller the office’s overall emissions.”

Thinking renewals through carefully is important even in the midst of rapid change. Rushing, forgetting the environmental aspect and failing to listen to the needs of employees do not sustain a commercial property long into the future in the new normal. It’s not just about the future of open plan offices. The organisation of work, leadership and the safe, healthy and aware solutions supporting them are also in transition.

“Making decisions in the longest possible term without excluding future needs and the changes resulting from them is a challenging task. Planning a new life for commercial properties in such a way that it lasts long into the future and adapts to all kinds of changes is important both for the environment and for the company,” Klemetti concludes.

For further information, please contact:
Tuula Klemetti, Sales Director, Commercial Properties, YIT Finland Ltd, tel. +358 40 048 1104, tuula.klemetti@yit.fi
Arja Korhonen, Communication Manager, YIT Corporation, tel. +358 40 554 5806, arja.korhonen@yit.fi


YIT is the largest Finnish and a significant North European construction company and urban developer. We develop and build apartments and living services, business premises and entire areas. We are also specialised in demanding infrastructure construction. Together with our customers, our nearly 8,000 professionals are creating more functional, attractive and sustainable cities and environments. We operate in 10 countries: Finland, Russia, Sweden, Norway, the Baltic countries, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. Our revenue in 2019 was approximately EUR 3.4 billion. YIT Corporation's share is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki Oy. www.yitgroup.com