Overview of the future of Finnish working life: increased remote work requires a new kind of corporate culture and redesign of workspaces

YIT CORPORATION News, September 15, 2020 at 07:00 a.m. 

Future of work YIT
Future of work YIT

Finnish working life is in transition after last spring. Remote work is here to stay, requiring companies and organisations to adapt their workspaces to new types of cooperation needs. In digitalisation, many communities have made a giant leap, and at the same time, humanity and creativity are valued more as the basis of productivity. There is no going back, so this is a good time for employers and employees to reflect on working from a whole new perspective.

These findings are based on the report "7 Lessons about the Future of Work" (7 oppia työn tulevaisuudesta) commissioned by Microsoft and YIT, bringing together the views of 20 researchers and business leaders on the changes Finnish working life is facing and how to build a safe and competitive working environment after COVID-19.

The report views the change of work from the following perspectives:

  1. Remote work is here to stay
  2. Demand for advanced office spaces will increase
  3. Digitalisation took a five years’ leap in two months because of the COVID-19
  4. Well-being is polarised and managing people’s emotions is emphasised
  5. ‘Nine to five’ thinking will become history
  6. Humanism and emotions are a prerequisite for the productivity of knowledge work
  7. Creativity and new ideas require human interaction

According to the report, the new approach to remote work is in the heart of the change in working life. Even organisations that had previously been a little more reluctant to implement remote work had to admit that fears about lower productivity or technological challenges in remote work were unnecessary.

“Remote work is here to stay. This spring with COVID-19 showed that technology is not an obstacle to remote work in Finland. Instead, remote work requires companies and communities to build their culture with determination, to strengthen empathetic leadership, and to define ways of cooperating, objectives and common rules together. Without this long-term and continuous development, the benefits of remote work will not be achieved – this we know from our many years of experience at Microsoft,” says Mikko Pulkkinen, Chief Operating Officer at Microsoft Finland.

One of the biggest losers in remote work is the basic need for human interaction. Only a small part of it is talk. To better understand each other, we need facial expressions, body language, and eye contact. Building trust, which is the bedrock of good leadership and psychological security, also requires face-to-face encounters. Indeed, all those interviewed for the review believe that the future of work will not just be remote work, but an even more natural combination of office work and remote work.

Office quality requirements are changing significantly. Instead of the number of workstations, investing in spaces that support creativity and attract employees are now the thing. As remote working increases, open-plan offices, conference facilities, and the use of premises are also facing a major change. Microsoft Teams and other virtual conferencing platforms also challenge office architecture and furnishings. In the future, open-plan offices will have to include spaces such as meeting rooms and lounges that support safety and cooperation, and small quiet rooms for video conferencing and concentration-intensive work.

“The reform of workspaces always requires taking a look at the company culture and the way people work there. 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?” asks Anders Stenbäck, the Director of Services Development at YIT. “It’s not just about the future of open-plan offices. The organisation of work, leadership and the safe, healthy and conscious solutions supporting them are also in transition. Workspaces need to support the objectives of the work itself and be so inspiring that people genuinely want to spend their time there.”

Digitalisation took a five years’ leap in two months

Despite the digital leap of the spring, a large number of Finnish organisations are still just getting used to modern ways of working. The COVID-19 pandemic made the cultural differences of workplaces visible and, on the other hand, accelerated development in places where attitudes towards remote work, individual office rooms and equipment have been more conservative.

“The organisations that had already introduced information work tools based on a well-thought-out strategy before the remote work recommendation could easily implement remote work practices in line with their strategy. Many organisations, on the other hand, introduced different tools at the same time, making the transition to remote work difficult. Cooperation is more than just video calls and it requires management as much an individual employee,” says Mikko Pulkkinen.

About the report

In April-May 2020, a total of 20 business leaders, researchers and experts operating in Finland were interviewed for the 7 Lessons about the Future of Work report. The report gathers together the interviewees' views on the change in work during the spring of 2020 and their thoughts on the change in work on the basis of the spring. The report can be downloaded here.

For further information, please contact:
Hanna Malmivaara, Senior Vice President, Communications, YIT Corporation, tel. +358 (0)40 561 6568, Hanna.malmivaara@yit.fi
Anders Stenbäck, Director, Services Development, YIT Corporation, tel. +358 50 548 2234, anders.stenback@yit.fi

YIT is the largest Finnish and 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 living environments. We operate in 10 countries: Finland, Russia, Sweden, Norway, the Baltic countries, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. In 2019, our revenue was approximately EUR 3.4 billion. YIT Corporation's share is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki Oy. www.yitgroup.com

Microsoft is an enabler of digital change in the age of the smart cloud and the associated smart devices. The company's mission is to help every person and organisation in the world achieve more things that are important to them. More information at: www.microsoft.fi and news.microsoft.com/en-us/. On Twitter @MicrosoftSuomi