In 2020, the Football Association of Finland had major changes ahead: the people of both the Helsinki and Vantaa offices were moving to the premises of the association's central office in Urheilukatu. More people would share the premises in the future, but no more square meters were given.
The project was not only a spatial reform, but a bigger change in the working culture and, as a result, a completely new utilisation of the premises. The reform was made possible by the fact that the Football Foundation, the owner of these premises, wanted to modernise the office space rented by the Football Association of Finland.
The staff jointly rummaged thoughts on the future use of the premises
The people of the Football Association of Finland initially participated in a working environment survey organised by Pinto Design, which surveyed the current situation and wishes regarding the use of the premises. Pinto was asked for ideas on the direction in which the facilities could be developed and how to make the facilities more versatile. Pinto produced a few alternative draft concepts of both the spatial layouts and functionalities, which the people of the Football Association of Finland commented on and developed further in joint workshops. The most effective option was then chosen to be developed even further.
The functionalities were considered in these workshops from the very beginning: who uses and visits the premises, what kind of teams operate there, what kind of daily rhythms users and teams have. The starting point for the design of the premises was a sporty, energetic and colourful office space with a lot of flexibility. It was known that the number of desk spaces would not be enough, so fixed, designated spaces were abandoned for most of the people from the start.
There were also new types of spaces for contemplation on the list in where you could retreat to in the middle of the day to recharge. Sporty staff hoped for showers, which are necessary after morning football workouts at the Stadium or a cycling commute. "We wanted a multi-use office space solution that looked like the Football Association of Finland, which would include different zones to support a wide range of ways of working. We needed more group work facilities, phone rooms, as well as small group conference rooms, which were previously almost completely lacking", says Timo Huttunen, Director of Club Services and Deputy General Secretary of the Football Association of Finland, and an agent of the Football Foundation that owns the facilities.
Fans get to sense the atmosphere by visiting the new fan shop
"The old lobby space was considered too big, and we didn't think it was in the best use. Storytelling was sought in the lobby by creating a showroom and bringing in content that enables visitors, fans and the staff to familiarise themselves with the diverse activities of the Football Association of Finland. There is now a shop for fan products in the lobby and a pick-up point for products ordered from the online store. The more successful Finland is in football or futsal, the busier it will be in the fanshop – or will be after the COVID-19 restrictions," Timo says.
The office premises include a so-called representative side: after the renovation, there are two large conference rooms near the lobby, which will also be new in terms of both facilities and technology for educational use and media events. Remote meetings are possible for large groups.Natural encounters were wanted more. The wish for the office space was to provide a wide range of support for today's and future's ways of working. The understanding of the employees' everyday office life became clear with a work environment survey and workshops. The goal for the modern working environment was set together with the client, Pinto ensuring that these objectives were later met.
Pinto created alternative layout plans for the positioning of different functions and sparred opportunities with the staff. The chosen layout was the design of peaceful team spaces and a large centralized social lounge that would bring together all the employees. The number of conference rooms were being increased and new facilities for project work were being created. Spaces for independent work as well as telephone facilities were also located in different parts the office.
The spaces feel more spacious
The staff moved into the renovated premises in summer 2020. Due to the recommendations for remote working, the actual test and the introduction for a large group is still waiting, but it has already been obvious that the changes have been successful. Staff participated in the naming of the different spaces in the premises: the chilling lounge became "Substitutes' Bench", the cafeteria became "Service Station" and the office area became "Midfield". Some of the premises got names that stem from the internal jokes of the staff, such as a meeting room called "Sauna" – a place where important decisions are made.
According to Timo, the personnel participated very enthusiastically in the planning. He would like to give special thanks to the Football Association of Finland's Human Resources Administration (HR), which ensured at each moment that the staff could participate in different stages. Also, the IT Manager's activity at all stages of the renovation was at a commendable level. "Pinto's designers listened with a sensitive ear and brought solutions to the table that the staff themselves could not have even hoped for. Some of the suggestions that came from Pinto were quite bold. We would have never reached such a conclusion on our own," Timo says happily.
There are delicious details included in the spatial graphics, such as a rescaled Stadium's football field found on the floor by the lobby and the meeting rooms. Futsal is also included in the visual content and graphics of the showroom.
In six months, ready-to-move-in facilities
Project management and construction was led by Pinto Pro. "Together with Pinto Design and Pinto Pro, we quickly found a common ground and a way to act. The budget and timetables were kept. The small additional investments initiated from the Football Association of Finland's own needs. The cooperation at the site meetings was very natural, direct and honest - forward-moving collaboration. The changes were reviewed well in advance and the wishes of the Football Association of Finland were always heard. Our staff was able to work at the office throughout the renovation, as the construction was gradually rolled forward from Christmas to Spring," Timo says of the progress. "A good relationship of trust was built right from the start and saw that both Pinto Design and Pinto Pro put themselves on the line. We are very satisfied with their work and way of working," Timo continues.