According to Christian Ullrich, Senior Facilities Manager at HERE Technologies, investing in the work environment and all its details is one of the most important factors in attracting the best talent to the company.
– Once the salaries have been standardized to a certain level, employees want to know what the company has to offer in addition to money.
The company develops maps and navigation applications, and Ullrich is in charge of its offices in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He is the head of about 88 offices, one of which is the Tampere unit that specializes in indoor navigation.
HERE Technologies was previously part of Nokia but spun out in 2015. It was time for HERE’s Tampere office to move to its own premises. The office warming party was held in late summer 2017. According to the survey carried out by the company, its employees are almost ten percent more satisfied with their work environment after the move.
"A good office can’t be copied directly from another country"
HERE’s new office is the result of collaboration between several partners. In addition to Ullrich, the people involved in the project were Pia Nieminen, Administrative Assistant at HERE’s Tampere unit, Technopolis staff and interior designer Eija Santaniemi, who has designed a number of offices located on Technopolis premises. Ullrich emphasizes the importance of local support, which made the project a success.
He says that you need local people you can trust to ensure everything runs smoothly. A facilities manager with several dozens of offices to run and who is based in another country cannot check out every detail. Equally important is the knowledge of local work culture.
– When we were designing the Tampere office, I learned that Finns appreciate their own space, and so the screens between the workstations are slightly higher than originally planned to give them more sense of privacy, Ullrich explains.
Employees’ comfort and the office’s functionality often come from the details. According to Ullrich, it is the details that will be affected if offices are planned centrally and the same model is duplicated regardless of the office’s location.
– Small things may turn out to be very important. For example, I’d never realized that there may be a lot of snow in Finland in winter, so there must be a place where employees can change from their winter boots into their office shoes and leave their wet clothes to dry, says Ullrich.
(The story continues after the pictures.)
HERE's office in Tampere is a combination of international brand and local character
"Technopolis’ strengths are trust and flexibility"
In large international companies, moving the office involves a number of different partners from several countries, and the decision-making process can take quite a while. Ullrich praises Technopolis’ agility and the trust they shared throughout the project.
"I really like Technopolis’ can-do attitude. Things were taken forward in the stages where the administration’s paperwork was still stuck in its own process."
As early as during the renovation, it became apparent that the size of the office as originally planned would not be big enough, as a decision was made to hire more people at the Tampere office. However, there was more office space available on the same floor, and the renovation was carried out within a tight schedule so that the entire office was completed by the opening date.
– It’s definitely worth mentioning that this project was completed within the deadline and even within the budget, says Ullrich.
Pia Nieminen also praises Technopolis for its flexibility and proactivity. As anyone who has ever been involved in a renovation project knows, there are always unforeseen twists and turns and new requirements.
– When planning a new space, there is no way you could consider everything that will be needed. Technopolis was, however, really flexible in this aspect. It was even possible to change the lamps on the demo table to more suitable ones only a day before the opening, says Pia Nieminen.
A combination of international brand and local character
The change in the ownership of the company, formerly part of Nokia, meant that HERE needed a new, independent brand. Of course, the company’s new brand needs to be visible in its offices.
As the departure from Nokia’s premises also meant the end of support services, such as cleaning and lobby services, it was decided that the new office would be located in serviced premises. The first task, therefore, was to find a serviced office that could be completely customized.
– At least in Europe, it would seem to be a trend that startups in particular favor serviced offices. They can look really good, be nicely branded and functional, but they are not HERE, says Ullrich.
– Technopolis told us that anything is possible. The premises can be renovated, modified and decorated so that they match not only our practical needs but also look like HERE’s office, he continues.
HERE’s visual image is reflected in, among other things, high-quality decorative materials, three-dimensional surfaces and use of colors. These elements are repeated at the company’s offices all over the world, while the office also has a local character. The meeting rooms are named after some well-known places in Tampere, such as the legendary Pyynikki observation tower and Rajaportti’s sauna. As fits the company’s business, the rooms are also marked with their map coordinates.
"Employees must be included in the change"
The employees’ input is obvious in the office’s interior design: the prints on the walls are based on a photo taken by an employee, which Santaniemi’s company then adapted for the space. In Ullrich’s view, it is important that, when moving offices, employees are involved in the planning and that their wishes and requirements are heard. Employees must also be well informed about the project’s progress and they must be told in advance about the practicalities related to the new premises.
– It is essential that employees are told in advance facts such as where to park their cars when they arrive at the new office for the first time, Ulrich says.
The seemingly small things can be the factor that distinguishes a company from its competitors. Being able to use the gym or to book an additional meeting room, or knowing that there’s someone to turn to if the copying machine runs out of paper may not sound like big things, but they affect people’s lives every single day.