Sesam opened and gave access to activity based working for all of state’s employees

The headquarters of Senate Properties moved from an old root vegetable and wheat warehouse of Elanto to the building next door, Lintulahdenkuja 4. In their old premises designed by us, they had already switched from an open office to activity based working. Now the objective was to enhance policies even more by increasing mobility and decreasing the number of workstations.

Simultaneously, the first Sesam working environment was piloted in the fifth floor of the building. Johanna Kiesiläinen-Riihelä crystallized the core idea as follows: “We are opening Sesam, because we believe in a new way of working communally across organizational borders. We want to be the forerunners in this and pave the way. The state has, for example, hundreds of lawyers who work similarly. By sitting at a shared work desk, we can reduce reinventing the same wheel multiple times.”

The premises are impressive, and the building was rewarded as the Concrete Structure of the Year in 2002. Even though the one-of-a-kind concrete structures are the greatest strength of the spaces, they also ended up being the biggest challenges of the planning. Lightwells were placed to the center of the spaces that limit the flexibility of space utilization. It made the zoning and space division of the former room office challenging. Finally, after lengthy elaborations, everything clicked together, and for example curtains were used to divide the spaces. Lots of color shades that harmonize with concrete, along with Senate Properties’ own accent colors, such as fuchsia, were utilized in interior design.

In Sesam, over a beautiful view of the sea in the other end of the floor, a working café and interactive spaces were located. The quieter spaces were put in the opposite end. On top of the traditional supporting spaces, Sesam has for example an ideation space called Väläys, which has tools that enable coworking, such as smartmarkers. Art pieces that match the spaces were chosen from the state’s art collections by a curator.

The planning was done with a participatory approach along with Senate employees by forming a project team from volunteers. Moreover, two town square days were organized, where anyone could pop over according to their own schedule to give feedback on both the floor plan and furniture choices. Thanks to the participatory approach, we eased the staff’s orientation to the new spaces.

Through the changes, the Senate Properties became even more mobile as every last one of the named workstations were given up at the new office. Now the choice of a work spot is primarily guided by one’s need to utilize voice: there are separate areas for both silent and interactive work. The new spaces now support even more keenly the Senate Properties’ objectives of encouraging interaction across organizational borders and spontaneous meetings.

Read Senate Properties’ article on the inauguration of Finland’s first Sesam from here.

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