Work environment concept for a growing company

Technology company RELEX was founded in 2005, and has grown fast from a start-up into a group of 1,800 employees while its working methods have been in a constant state of change. We helped RELEX to define scenarios and focus areas for its future work and designed a work environment concept that supports its future growth and changing ways of working. The current RELEX office in Ilmala was renovated in autumn 2022, and is serving as a test environment for ways of working and changes before the company moves to the new premises in Otaniemi.

The project helped the team to recognise the key policies of the work environment strategy:

  • the role and location of the headquarters
  • future ways of working
  • types of premises that support the working methods
  • supporting the planning of change communication

Needs assessment determines direction and scope of change

We started our cooperation with a needs assessment that helped us to analyse the needs of the future work environment in an employee-centred manner. The needs assessment included an employee survey, interviews in pairs with key persons, and workshops on future working scenarios for the project team. The assessment helped to identify the role of the office in the future, the ways of using it and spatial needs. The decision on the number of spaces needed in the future was based on the needs assessment. The outcome was building a recognisable RELEX experience in the new premises. Because the new office will not be completed until 2026, the company decided to renovate the current Ilmala office as well, to make it better support the changed working methods.

“You led us in the right direction with your expertise and enthusiasm, providing us with scenarios and plans from the start. The atmosphere within the project team was warm and welcoming, and working together with you was easy,” says Nanna Tuomi-Nikula, Specialist in Work Environment Design and Team Leader at RELEX, describing the cooperation with Rune & Berg Design.

In addition to the needs assessment and scenarios, we were responsible for the work environment design and graphic design of the renovated Ilmala office and concept design for the first floor of the new headquarters. We also supported the RELEX project team in change communication. CBRE acted as commercial advisor for the search for headquarters. “Cooperation with you was extremely smooth, the result is a success and the workshops you held were well prepared. With your help, we optimised the use of the premises. You also supported us in decision-making,” says Tiia Rapeli, HR Director at RELEX.

Work environment concept sums up future needs

The needs assessment and the scenarios were used as the basis for the new office and its preliminary work environment concept. The concept covers the different spaces and zones that the company needs, their number and visual look and feel. The design was driven by the wishes and opinions of the employees concerning work in the future. Finding a balance between efficient hybrid work and fun was important. “We encouraged the client to think about what kind of a work environment and ways of working RELEX employees have, which helped them to manage the work environment strategy. In an uncertain situation, staying put is not the wisest thing to do. Instead, the best way is to make a decision and choose the direction based on the best available information, just like RELEX did,” says Sini Ala-Nikula, Lead Designer for the project, sharing valuable tips with other companies in a similar situation.

An example of new types of spaces introduced to the Ilmala concept are the restorative and quiet spaces that have become more important in the hectic world of hybrid work. The aim is also to transfer these types of spaces to the new headquarters. In the work environment concept of the future office, the space is divided into visitor areas and areas for internal concentration and collaboration. The purpose of this division is to make work as smooth as possible. The number of workstations needed by the personnel is based on both the ratio of in-office work to remote work and the type of tasks performed at the office.

“This is a great concept with different zones and working areas. It serves as an excellent foundation for designing the new headquarters. The revamped Ilmala office allows us to test the new working culture and premises,” Tiia says.

The spatial solutions and uses of the 5,000-m2 premises in Ilmala were renewed according to the new work environment concept. The RELEX employees get to test a more flexible working model, where they can reserve the versatile spaces based on needs. There are no dedicated workstations. “Working at the Ilmala office allows our employees to practise new ways of working and test new kinds of facilities. We also prepared a communications plan for the work environment change: what information should be shared, on what channels and how,” Sini says.  “I feel like this has been a big change for the better. From our point of view, the best features are the different types of areas and modular structure – the space can be modified and used for a variety of purposes. This has helped our employees find different ways of working,” concludes Nanna.

“Thanks to the successful renovation, the Ilmala office really resembles us. Bringing in natural elements, offering opportunities for refreshment, the working cafe, various meeting rooms and Octacells have changed the ways in which we use the space. The new Ilmala office is cosy, and our employees love it. The office feels warm and home-like,” Tiia says happily.

Ilmala as a test environment for change

The renovation of the Ilmala office is complete, but RELEX employees are continuing to test the premises. The employees are also involved in the development of the office: “We are currently preparing a user’s guide on the purposes of each space, and we are collecting feedback from the RELEX team on the functionality of the spatial solutions in Ilmala. The idea is to enable the employees to influence the development and test the concept in Ilmala for the new office,” Nanna says, describing the future.

Would you like to read more about the new RELEX headquarters?

Check out the press release by RELEX.