New look offices – outdoors indoors

From the moment you walk in the door, you know something’s different about this place.

The new Supermetrics office space in Helsinki’s old city centre feels less like an office and more like a serene clearing in the woods.

Employees ditch their shoes and pad quietly through the space on a lush grass-like green carpet. Bowers of large tree-like plants define work areas and conversation pits, while soft stools look like large river rocks. Wire mesh “clouds” dangle from the ceiling, blending in seamlessly with the real clouds on view from the massive window walls.

Then there’s the rooftop terrace, 200 square meters of outdoor space designed to be both practical for work and suitable for evening barbecues.

Overall, it’s stunning. Yet beyond the beauty of the place, there is a highly intentional reason behind this office design.

Capturing the culture of a growing company
“I had been looking for a suitable space for Supermetrics for a long time,” explains Mikael Thuneberg, the founder and CEO of the highly successful marketing metrics company. “I wanted to have two things: a sauna and a large sun terrace.” Why? Because it’s fun, Mickael will tell you without missing a beat. The space is definitely that, with touches of whimsy, pops of colour and unique touches like a moss-covered couch and see-through pastel glass boards instead of traditional white boards. Yet all this fun serves a deeper purpose. It serves to physically manifest some key elements of the company’s culture, including their focus on wellness for everyone on the team.

“We wanted to have something home-like rather than office-like,” Thuneberg explains. “We don’t wear shoes in the office to make it feel more like home. And we wanted to get fresh new ideas for different spaces so that none of our meeting rooms would look the same for example. We already had many cool ideas implemented or half-implemented in our previous office.”

They passed those ideas on Helsinki creative agency Mint & More, and asked them to come up with a cohesive design concept for the ambitious renovation of the space.

Bringing the outdoors in
From the start, the design had to steer well away from the typical open office concept.

“Mikael made it clear he did not want that,” says Mint & More’s founder and designer Roosa Riski. The traditional desk-and-chairs style of meeting room was also off the table. “Mikael wanted all meeting rooms to be cozy and different, and already had some ideas of what they could be like.”

As they considered the desired ambience, it became clear that a natural approach was called for.

“In order to create that nature inside effect, we have used a lot of natural materials in all spaces, including plenty of light coloured wood. For example, all the desks are beautifully designed wooden desks rather than those traditional IKEA desks. The kitchen floor is made of a designer parquet, something that is quite rare in office spaces, where material choices tend to be guided by practicality rather than pleasantness,” says Riski. “Wood brings warmth and coziness to the space.”

This idea of creating a seamless experience between the outdoors and the indoors is gaining credibility in the workplace.

“Employers with suburban campuses have long turned swaths of blank lawn into furnished outdoor areas where workers can meet with colleagues, work alone or simply take a break from their computer screens,” writes Jane Margolies in The New York Times.

“Now, developers and owners of urban office buildings are adding terraces and transforming once-barren rooftops into parklike settings, where workers can plant vegetables, unfurl yoga mats or swing in a hammock.”

It also ties in beautifully to the idea of more intimate gathering places for collaboration and a focus on employee wellness, two key pillars of the Supermetrics culture.

Exposure to nature is known to lower stress hormones and promote overall wellbeing. Now, instead of waiting until lunchtime or after work to enjoy the benefits of nature, Thuneberg’s team soaks them in all day long.

The ultimate success of Thuneberg’s vision
At the end of the work day, the space continues to be a draw. Employees often spend time at the office in the evenings and weekends, inviting friends in to watch a game in the cinema room, or bringing in the family for a barbecue on the terrace and an evening sauna.

For Thuneberg, this is the ultimate measure of success, that his team is so happy in their office space they want to share it with those they love. Supermetrics may be a digitally-powered company, yet at its heart it is made up of people. And their office space reflects the genuine warmth and humanity at the core of this special place.

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