Tiina Raekallio

How to build successful office renovations and relocations through digital planning


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Every office will undergo a relocation or renovation at some point: a move into new facilities, a conversion of traditional workspaces into an activity-based office, or another type of office facelift. When employees learn about the change, everyone will ask: “What will happen to me? Will there be a place for me? What kind of environment will I be working in? Is anyone going to ask what I want?”

When the decision has been made to renovate or relocate, it’s essential to immediately explain the need for the change to the entire workplace community. Otherwise, speculation will run rampant.

The process concerns the entire organization, so everyone must be engaged in planning from the get-go. The Howspace digital platform is ideal for this purpose. In Howspace, a section can be created for each phase of the project to ensure that everyone can keep up with its progress and express their opinion.

When the renovation or relocation is discussed for the first time, it’s a good idea to start collecting input in Howspace on what is good about the current facilities and what does not work. This enables everyone’s views—both favorable and critical—to be included in the planning process from the very beginning. People will also know that anything that already works does not need to be changed. This will nip gossip and pointless speculation in the bud.

Democratic decisions

During the change process, everyone should also have an opportunity to examine and comment on the new layout. For example, everyone will have an opinion about the colors of the new office.

The poll function in Howspace makes it possible to hold a vote on the color selections, so agreement on the best colors is reached democratically. Other aspects that everyone should have a say in include the need for silent spaces and phone booths, for example.

When each project phase is continuously visible on the digital platform, there’s no need to display plans and designs in a meeting room, and the project group won’t be pestered with endless questions. In addition, supervisors and experts don’t need to spend time organizing meetings at every turn—they can focus on the few meetings that really matter. There’s also less need for team-specific coordination when everyone is heard.

Team members can also discuss in Howspace on their own, without a facilitator. Various discussion filters can be used to draw up summaries. For example, a word cloud can be created to illustrate the most frequently used concepts, and everyone can follow discussions by browsing comments made by a specific team.

Transparency guaranteed

Employees can also plan together and express their opinions when workstations are assigned, water outlets are being placed or the locations of coworking spaces are being decided, to name just a few examples. Everyone can share which aspects of their work must be taken into account in planning and siting. This will help people to better understand others and their jobs, and view their thoughts in relation to others’ opinions.

For example, not all designers have experience in nursing or teaching. A nurse is the best expert to determine the ideal place for a water outlet in a hospital, and a teacher knows what facility arrangements work best when group sizes and subjects change many times a day.

The Howspace digital platform enables all members of the workplace community to participate, in addition to project designers and managers. With transparency guaranteed from beginning to end, it’s easy for everyone to keep up with developments and project progress.

I have helped many customers manage facility-related changes, and there have also been renovations and relocations in my own workplaces over the years. I can attest to how much time it saves to implement the entire planning phase on a digital platform and how much this promotes change within the workplace community.

Of course, in change projects related to facilities, someone must always be in charge of engaging others and helping the entire workplace community to navigate the change. For me, the most surprising and amazing aspect has been seeing how large a group it is possible to get genuinely involved. The most incredible case was the planning of an entire residential area: future residents were able to influence the planning by leaving their comments on a digital platform.

If you’d like to see how Howspace would fit into your relocations or renovations, just open your free workspace today. No strings attached, no credit card needed.