Would you like to work today standing up, sitting in an armchair or gazing at the sea? All these types of working are available at the renewed Neste headquarters. The company’s work culture has now boldly entered a new era.
In the beginning of summer 2016 the Neste headquarters’ façade appeared as grand and forward-looking on the outside but on the inside the interior was like in any other office: brown, grey and lots of separate rooms. The traditional cubicle style did not comply with the Neste brand and it was not reflecting the direction in which Neste wanted to take the company culture.
“We wanted a multi-space office that would encourage and promote interaction”, says Niko Pihlman, Head of Real Estate at Neste Oyj. “We wanted premises that are flexible and provide people with working space regardless of time or location.”
It was time to tear down walls and create a whole new working environment for over 600 people.
Interior Architects Fyra was chosen to create the interior design.
“We were particularly impressed with Fyra’s competence in providing multi-space office solutions. Their references show that people at Fyra are in tune with the office working culture of the future and how to implement that to the company premises”, Pihlman says.
A well-thought-out concept was needed in the beginning. It took a lot of research and interviews.
“Interior solutions must always be based on how people work and operate in the environment we are going to design. We must find out how people in this exact company work. For me, as an interior designer, the most rewarding thing is solving the functionality of the premises and meeting the expectations of the personnel. This ensures an environment in which people thrive”, says Anu Latvala, Interior Architect at Fyra.
The renovation was carried out within an extremely tight schedule. The project began in the beginning of 2016 and the last floor was completed in July 2017. The personnel were interviewed and plans were changed whenever new needs came up.
“The Fyra team was keen and perceptive in recognising the needs that emerged from the interviews. Each floor was executed keeping in mind the needs of the building users as well as the overall requirements set by the company”, says Neste’s Niko Pihlman expressing his gratitude.
The fact that the company is located in two adjacent buildings, consisting of nine 1000-square -meter-floors, meant that Fyra had a challenge on their hands. From the beginning they decided to execute the project in stages.
One floor at a time the walls were torn down and the plastic flooring removed. Everything was substituted with colour, natural materials and sleek, modern furniture from Finnish furniture manufacturers. The guiding idea throughout the project was to create an open, flexible space where people can interact. Whereas previously people were sitting in their own places amidst piles of papers, now everyone has nine floors at their disposal.
“Pretty much all work spaces are flexible and they don’t ‘belong’ to anyone”, says Fyra’s Latvala.
A multi-space office allows information to circulate more easily as people see each other and are able to exchange ideas also in informal spaces – like in the kitchen. One was built on each floor.
“People work 7,5 hours a day. It is really important that the work environment is comfortable. An open-plan office has to have great support facilities”, Latvala says.
A fun detail in the new offices is that each floor has a kitchen that differs from the others – just like each floor. The furniture in each floor is different and some of the floors have a lush indoor plant wall.
“One wing is blue and the other is green and the colours fade towards the top”, Anu Latvala says.
There are work spaces and different office layouts that suit different needs. Some prefer a more traditional office desk and some a standing desk. Someone might perform better when slouching on a sofa with their laptop or sitting in a dark blue or green armchair. There a spots for those who work alone and for those who work in teams. Something for all.
“Different spaces provide sometimes a much needed distraction without having to leave the premises”, says Niko Pihlman from Neste.
One such distraction is available when taking the elevator to E6, the top floor. There is a self-service café, a small golf course, sofas, a library, armchairs and rooms of different sizes available for reservation. A minimalist interior combined with a spectacular sea view.
Big companies like Neste need their headquarters to look modern and contemporary, and last for more than ten years. Solutions have to be not only great but timeless, too. The facilities have to be flexible should there be a decrease or increase in the number of staff. Layouts must withstand changes.
“The new offices are more flexible and suit the Neste business operations”, says Niko Pihlman.
The renewed premises contribute to and complement the Neste marketing communications: fresh, easily approachable and positive. An office that looks like its brand engages employees and acts as a calling card for the company.
It was clear right from the start that the renovation would go further than just the Espoo headquarters in Finland. The concept needed to be reproducible and applicable on a global level. During the renovation Fyra and Neste compiled a manual regarding the office solutions. The instruction book called Agile Working will be made available in the Neste offices around the world.
This means that also other Neste offices will be able to provide different work spaces be it at a café or by a green plant wall or a golf course – or sitting at a traditional office desk.
“I am very happy with the outcome”, says Niko Pihlman at Neste.
“We found the common thread very quickly. The common thread between the Neste brand and the working culture we want to promote.”
Photographer: Sampsa Pärnänen