Finnish railway company VR Group is a service company in the fields of travel, logistics and maintenance. VR Group aims to create the best possible working environment for their employees and taking on new ways of working and using new solutions are a part of that goal.
VR Group moved all their operations to their headquarters is in Pasila, Helsinki in 2018. Read how the company uses Haltian Empathic building digital twin at their office to help them design and improve their office layout and manage hybrid working.
Cover image: ©VR Group
Transferring to hybrid work
VR Group aims to go fully into the hybrid model of working, where people will work some part of the week at the office, and some part remotely. In the hybrid model, everyone does not need a dedicated desk, which enables offices to do more with the spaces they have. For VR Group this has meant more spaces for co-operation and meetings.
When VR Group transferred all its operations to the Pasila Isopaja office, the very starting point was to design working spaces according to the needs and wishes of the people. In addition, VR Group wanted to find out how they could use their spaces more efficiently and try out future ways of working.
To do this, VR Group needed a tool to know when and which spaces were used the most, which were not used as much and what kind of spaces they might need more. In addition, VR Group needed a tool to help them manage hybrid working. During COVID the need for a smart office tool grew stronger as the customer wanted visibility on how many people were at the office at the same time.
Empathic Building digital twin
Empathic Building digital twin was introduced to the VR Group head office during summer 2020 to both help the office to start working in the hybrid model, and to support the office’s COVID guidelines. From Empathic Building, it’s easy to see how many people are using the office and to make sure the utilization rate stays within safe limits.
Using Empathic Building makes hybrid work as easy as possible: from one view, people can see available desks and meetings rooms and when they will be free. The solution is supported by Haltian Thingsee IoT sensor devices like the Thingsee PRESENCE occupancy sensors that are installed to desks, meeting rooms and phone booths. When the device detects movement, the desk or space appears taken on the Empathic Building digital twin, and the space is freed in the application when no movement is detected again.
The process of taking Empathic Building into use went smoothly for VR Group. The digital twin was created in just a few days and the customer used a partner for the physical installation of the sensors, so the process caused very little disturbance to the day-to-day work at the office.
Data-driven decision making
One of the biggest benefits for VR Group has been that they have been able to use the utilization data and transform their office spaces based on their findings.
“We wanted to know what kind of spaces we might need more or if some spaces weren’t used much. Rather than making guesses, with Empathic Building, we were able to make decisions based on the data”. Jani Jääskeläinen the Real Estate Program Manager at VR Group says. “Our employees were saying that there was a need for more phone booths after moving to hybrid work. User data gives a good base to evaluate the real usage and utilization rates,” He continues.
In the beginning, The VR Group Isopaja office was five floors, but with efficient space utilization and strive to hybrid working, the headquarters now is about two floors. Now that people are returning to the office, VR Group can continue to develop their headquarters office in a data-driven way.
“The office spaces are now ready for us to take on new ways of working, where people can better choose which work style and space suites them best, and Empathic Building will be a great support in this,” Jääskeläinen says.
Finally, we asked Jani what his favourite EB feature was. “As a facility manager, my favourite Empathic Building feature is seeing the utilization rate both live and from the reports,” Jääskeläinen says. “What’s unique about EB, is that these reports and information is not only available to the management, but to all users, which supports our company culture of working transparently.”
“We wanted to know what kind of spaces we might need more or if some spaces weren’t used much. Rather than making guesses, with Empathic Building, we were able to make decisions based on the data. Our employees were saying that there was a need for more phone booths after moving to hybrid work. User data gives a good base to evaluate the real usage and utilization rates.”
-Jani Jääskeläinen, Real Estate Program Manager at VR Group