Finnish Institute of Occupational Health media release 13 October 2023
The work environments in knowledge work are undergoing dramatic changes. The work is increasingly being done outside the office, and many organizations are considering the optimization of their space use. Some have already ended up radically cutting down on their spaces.
The changes in the social welfare and health care sector are also topical, with the need to save on expenses being one of the motives.
“For an organization, the spaces often make up one of the largest fixes costs, in addition to personnel costs. The sustainability aspect is also a factor that encourages the optimization of space use, as maintaining empty spaces equals resources wasted,” says Suvi Hirvonen, Senior Specialist at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
Operational change is just as important as changes in spaces
The researchers’ message to workplaces is that work environment change is a complex process that always involves things other than the facilities.
“It is important to recognize how much changes in spaces affect the operations. It would also be a good idea to consider how the work will change in the future. This way, the space solutions will serve the needs of work for a long time to come,” says Pia Sirola, Senior Specialist at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
“Where work environment changes too often go wrong is when the changes to the spaces are planned without considering the changes to the work. At worst, this leads to spaces unsuited to the work and operations, with poor employee well-being,” says Hirvonen.
Resistance to change and the load resulting from changes can be reduced by actively managing the change, communicating in an open manner and carefully listening to the employees.
The work environment promotes well-being in various ways
The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health recommends a focus on well-being during changes to the work environment. The lack of problems alone does not guarantee employee well-being.
According to the new guide, a work environment that promotes well-being also supports, for example, the smooth flow of the work and work engagement and promotes interaction, co-operation and physical activity.
- The guide Onnistu työympäristömuutoksessa (Succeed in work environment changes) provides workplaces with concrete tips and checklists for smooth work environment change management.
- The guide also includes highlights of successes and challenges in the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health’s own work environment change process.
- The materials in the guide are based on the long-term research and development work on workspaces of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
- Read the guide (in Finnish): Onnistu työympäristömuutoksessa (Succeed in work environment changes)
Suvi Hirvonen, Senior Specialist, +358 (0)50 535 3851, suvi.hirvonen [at] ttl.fi
Pia Sirola, Senior Specialist, +358 (0)43 825 9202, pia.sirola [at] ttl.fi