Transforming the headquarters of Airbus Finland

The Airbus project was all about reinventing the current workplace (and space) to support the future ways of working and enhance the employee experience. Agile Work was chosen to design and deliver a full workplace transformation for Airbus Finland at their Helsinki HQ in Pitäjänmäki to support the company’s objective to modernize and update its working environment.

Airbus is Europe’s largest aerospace technology company, a pioneer in aeronautics, communications, and defense technology. In Finland, Airbus employs more than 340 people in two locations, Helsinki and Jyväskylä, and is one of the 30 largest product developers in Finland, with annual investments of around EUR 30 million.

Simultaneous transformation of culture and physical environment

Not all companies have the same needs, but in this post-pandemic era, all companies have to think hard about organizing their work and what kind of workplaces they need now and in the future.

As for Airbus Finland, the location and the general settings of the current environment were considered good.  There was no need to relocate but rather revitalize and reorganize the existing spaces to match the new ways of working and requirements. But even the best facilities are just a tool to support corporate culture and ways of working. Changing the work environment should also develop organizational culture and redesign working practices, not just the premises. As was done in this case.


Collaboration among many stakeholders

The project was kicked off in the midst of the pandemic early in 2020 and was conducted completely remotely with a reasonably ambitious schedule considering the project’s scope. The project was carried out in close cooperation with the representative of the owner of the facility (Keva) and other technical service providers.

From the owner’s side, an extensive project team was involved and the draft options for the space were actively discussed on the digital collaboration platform (Howspace) facilitated by Agile Work. In the early stages of a project, a smooth and quick discussion is critical to ensure project progress. It was important to exchange information quickly and get immediate responses to drafts. Information flows effortlessly to the parties involved, and everyone can follow the project’s progress, unlike in traditional email communication, where it is easy for people to get left out of message chains and for conversations to get sidetracked


Participatory process to facilitate the transition

The project started with a definition phase to clarify the current situation and the needs. The change project itself consisted of several sub-projects as Airbus had to consider, in addition to new ways of working, new IT, AV, and hybrid work solutions.

Changing from designated workstations and personal equipment to a shared workstation environment and a fully flexible work environment solution was a big step. Significant changes in ways of working and the spaces were ahead, which is why a participatory design process was carried out during the whole project. Developing a functional and safe working environment requires the involvement of users in the design process.


Inspiration from above

Henna Lehtinen, Lead Interior Architect within the project, tells how the space was designed to meet the different employee profiles and their work requirements and how the inspiration for the theme came from an aerial view of our surroundings.

“Within the interior, one can experience four different areas; A colorful countryside area of communal activity and bustle, a sea environment with a calming atmosphere for focus work, a city neighborhood at the center of everything for interaction and a futuristic cosmic space area for training and technical testing. Each zone has its own visual features and an atmosphere that navigates the users throughout the spaces. To support the actual use, clear house rules were created to echo these themes.”


Flexible space for everyone

Almost the entire office is a flexible space for everyone to use, employees can choose the most suitable working space for each individual. Workstations and meeting rooms can be booked through the reservation system, and there are sensors in the rooms that monitor the use of the space in real-time.

Pods are mainly used on an ad-hoc basis, serving an acute need when the phone rings or a confidential conversation is required. Unassigned, freely accessible workstations also contribute to the need for storage space. Each zone has an entry area with a compartment for personal belongings and, in addition, the teams’ storage solutions are centralized so that they are not tied to workstations.


Enthusiastic response

The renewed premises were taken into use in late 2021, with some parts of the projects still ongoing and to be finalized before summer 2022.

The initial response from the Airbus employees has been enthusiastic, especially the joyful color schemes, spatial themes, and increased flexibility have been highly appreciated by the teams and its users.


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