If is the leading property and casualty insurance company in the Nordics, providing insurance solutions and services to a broad customer base, from private individuals to large corporate customers. If has over 3,9 million customers in the Nordics and Baltics and 7300 employees, 2000 of which are in Finland.
Ever since the year 2019, If has had the ambition to become The Best Place to Work by improving employee experience, well-being, and working methods. One of their main goals was driving the company culture towards Activity Based Working (ABW). After realizing the need for cultural change, it was understood that technology could assist in the change. After some extensive research, Santtu Bergström, Portfolio Manager in Facility Services, and his team came up with a list of 20 prerequisites that called for changes in the available technology. The timing for such a leap in the working culture, both from the employee and technology perspective, couldn’t have been better. Due to COVID-19 the way people work rapidly changed and at this time If’s Espoo office was about to move from Niittykumpu to Keilaniemi. Bergström and his team were now on a mission to find the technology partner to help them transform their working environment from assigned desks to a more flexible ABW environment. After seeing the excellent results of the Espoo premises, the company implemented its second Haltian Empathic Building in Turku during summer 2022.
According to If Facility Services, they were lucky to find Haltian and Empathic Building because they had already started their research on available technologies that could assist If with their Best Place to Work program – way before they had even started the program. Upon reaching the point of selecting a Smart Office partner to work with, Bergström’s team took out their list of 20 prerequisites and started checking the boxes. Of all the 20 prerequisites, Empathic Building checked almost all of them either directly or indirectly!
“When we started working with Haltian, they quite swiftly implemented the rest of requirements on our list and even came up with more useful features such as internal navigation,” Bergström explains. “All the necessary integrations could be done without any major issues, and the cooperation was open and creative from day one,” he continues.
Moving to new premises and remodeling the whole working environment is a major change to the everyday life of employees, but as Bergström phrases it, “the system has been adopted really well by our employees, even though there are always people in such a large organization that will need more time for adopting the change”. Some features are highlighted by both Bergström and If’s employees, such as the digital twin floorplan accessible to everyone, ease of use, and employee inclusion to name a few.
Working as the Portfolio Manager in Facility Services, Santtu Bergström is responsible for the technology on company premises, so he sees below the surface and finds more benefits: “We wanted to create an environment where teams would connect more easily and work together effortlessly while reducing the number of assigned desks that became less necessary when people adopted the modern hybrid model of working both remotely and at the office. We were able to scale from 15 000 square meters to roughly 9000 and reduced the number of desks from 650 to around 400 desks in Espoo alone. At the same time, we created more flexible working areas than we had previously”.
Working smarter, not harder
Empathic Building is not only about the people, though. Employees love the ability to choose a working space that is the most suitable one for their tasks for the day or to sit with their close colleagues. Santtu Bergström agrees that the employee experience has improved by a mile within the last 18 months since implementing Empathic Building, but also highlights the technological aspects: “Thanks to Empathic Building, we can now see which spaces or areas are in active use and require more frequent cleaning, which areas need more ventilation or heating, and even the small things, such as a defect HDMI cable in a meeting room that somebody had reported. This has reduced our maintenance and facilities costs while improving the employee experience and happiness”, he states. The overall benefits of Empathic Building have been such a success in If’s Espoo office that it is now implemented in If’s largest premise in Turku. It is worth noting that the request to have a Smart Office in Turku came from If’s core business representatives, not from If’s Facility Services.
To the readers of this article Bergström recommends the Empathic Building solution if the goal is to improve efficiency, encourage collaboration and implement the ABW model. “First, I would recommend a detailed evaluation, much like our list of 20 prerequisites. The experts at Haltian are super easy to work with and I can easily say Haltian is one of the best partners I have ever encountered in my career,” he says with a smile. The development to improve Empathic Building continues closely together with If and Haltian.