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The National Land Survey of Finland boosts its workplace development with space utilization studies


The National Land Survey of Finland (NLS) aims to improve its workspace efficiency by 60 percent during a six year period. This objective is challenging, but significant intermediate results have already been achieved. Rapal’s space utilization measurements and the Optimaze real estate management system are helping NLS reach this goal.

The National Land Survey of Finland (NLS) is a national body and government agency with offices in 37 localities from Mariehamn to Ivalo. In 2014, NLS set a demanding target for improving its space efficiency: to reduce space efficiency from 36m²/PYs (person-years) per employee to 15m²/PYs by 2020. NLS made its plans already before a similar facility strategy was imposed on government agencies by the Finnish government.

Facility Manager Tarja Ek, who manages NLS’s Facility Services, says that the implementation of the facility strategy has gone very well so far. “The bottom line is that with the facility solutions we had implemented by the end of 2016, we had achieved significant savings of about 1.2 million euros. When we started, our space efficiency was 36m²/PYs and now the figure is 23 m²/PYs.” 

According to Ek, Rapal’s services have both verified results and provided assurance that NLS is going in the right direction.

Facility Manager Tarja Ek says NLS has used Rapal's space utilization study and employee satisfaction survey tools to get hard data that supports their facility management strategy.Facility Manager Tarja Ek photographed at Hämeenlinna office’s new premises. The space change has been implemented following NLS’s facility concept.

Optimaze software provides up-to-date data on NLS facilities

As a government agency, the NLS is required to use shared Governmental Space Management (HTH) IT services. HTH uses Rapal’s Optimaze software as basis for its IT services. 

Ek is pleased with Optimaze. “It contains valid facility data, such as floor plans, personnel numbers and square footage. The software can be used to retrieve required cost data and reports for management. The threshold for our facility experts to learn how to use the software is low and Rapal’s support is quick at providing assistance when needed.” 

NLS utilized Optimaze to implement its facility strategy. Ek talks about how they carried out their plan: “After our concept was ready, we checked our facility portfolio to see which of our offices needed a more efficient utilization of space. We chose our Oulu office as the pilot site and implemented our first activity-based working environment there. With positive experience from the pilot, we continued with more facility projects at a brisk pace.”

Around the same time, Facility Services heard about Rapal’s Measure space utilization study and realized they could use it to gather the information they needed on the effects of the on-going change process.

Space utilization measurements confirm that the direction was right

Optimaze Measure space utilization rate measurements and workplace user surveys were carried out in NLS’s offices in 2015 and 2016. They covered a total of 23,000 room square meters and 700 employees.

Shortly before the office space utilization studies, NLS introduced guidelines for multi-location working and employees were still getting acquainted with the new ways of working. Dedicated work desks made way for non-assigned workstations and employees were encouraged to work away from their base office, remotely from home or at other NLS offices, for example. Facility Services wanted to use the measurement results to illustrate to both employees and management how the facility strategy was proceeding and what kind of results had been achieved.

“We were in the same situation as many other organizations going through facility changes. A person's perception of how much space he or she needs did not correspond with reality. It was also unclear how much time employees spent at their own workstation and what the utilization rate for meeting rooms was,” Ek says.

NLS conducted the space utilization measurements themselves, supported with training provided by Rapal. “The introduction to the measurement process was good. Communication before starting the process helped alleviate employee concerns about the measurements. We were not monitoring individual employees, but space utilization in general,” Ek recalls.

Activity-based offices provided significant cost savings and improved employee job satisfaction

The reports based on the measurement results now serve as a tool for NLS management and provide tangible support for Facility Services. 

“Our personnel could see that we do not actually spend that much time at the office - our work takes place in many locations and is quite mobile. We also learned that spaces for quiet work do not have to be very big. They were oversized in our facility concept,” Ek explains the results of the space utilization study and working environment survey.

“Despite slight resistance to change, satisfaction with the work environment has improved as we have learned to work in the new facilities. We have invested in change management and involved personnel in space change planning.”

The National Land Survey of Finland has saved over a million euros during the past two years, thanks to the facility change process - and there are still big projects ahead. 

Continuous working environment development

NLS has completed six activity-based work environments in three years and is currently building two more. Various space efficiency projects are also under way, meaning condensing spaces and, where possible, eliminating spaces that are not being used.

The 2020 target is a challenge for NLS because, like other government agencies, it has to deal with the growing number of retiring personnel as well as long lease contracts.

However, at the locations where the work spaces have already been transformed into activity-based offices, goals have been met. Ek is already planning the next steps: “We achieved fantastic results in two years. Now it feels like we could create an even more efficient concept and target, because our work is located at so many sites and so mobile. We can revise the facility strategy and study how we can make office space meet work requirements even better than before. Our aim is to provide the personnel of the National Land Survey Finland an everyday work environment that supports effective operations and the work wellbeing of personnel.” 

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