After one and a half years of Covid, an increasing number of people are making the decision to slowly return to the offices. We asked those present at our Turku headquarters how this new era makes them feel.
To say that the pandemic changed the way we work would be an understatement. Even in a workplace like ours that is essentially built around the idea of being able to work from anywhere, the shift was dramatic. Before March 2020, our headquarters in Turku and Helsinki were buzzing with life. And then, for the longest time, it was unlikely to bump into almost anyone there.
The contrast to this new beginning is such that it feels genuinely joyous and almost nostalgic to have a chat with colleagues in the same physical space or have lunch together in the nearby restaurants.
Having spent at least some time at the office this whole time, People And Operations Manager Niina Långström has seen the whole process up close.
"This year, I've already spent between 1 and 3 days at the office per week. But back when the pandemic started, I was only there when it was absolutely necessary; meeting new employees, handling mail orders, things like that", Niina explains.
The contrast is such that it feels genuinely joyous and almost nostalgic to have a chat with colleagues in the same physical space or have lunch together in the nearby restaurants.
The pandemic has made many people reconsider how they want to use the office, both now and in the future. Because of different personalities and life situations, it's best to let everyone choose what works best for them, whenever possible.
"Perhaps even more clearly than before, I've seen different preferences emerge. Some hardly use the office at all, others like to start the day from home and come here for lunch. Most people do more remote work than before but also want to be at the offices at least some of the time."
During the pandemic, many workplaces have scaled down their offices or even considered giving them up completely. Niina says that at Taiste, the exact opposite is true: the offices continue to play a big role in the work culture.
"We're currently expanding both in Turku and Helsinki. For us, the new approach has more to do with offering even more varied spaces. For example, more video calls mean we need the offices to have more private spots."
Project Executive Elise Lepinsalo-Harju, who just started at Taiste in March, says she's also been eager to experience the office life as she much prefers face-to-face communication.
"I've found these first six months challenging", Elise admits.
"Even with video calls, there's so much information and depth that is lost when you're not sharing the same physical space. It feels good to be here, seeing others, being able to ask things spontaneously."
Design Director Ville Kaisla agrees with Elise. The past year has made it clear he wouldn't like to work remotely all the time, either.
"It reminded me of my days as a freelancer, which to me was not a great time. Not leaving the house, sleeping schedule getting out of hand", Ville shakes his head and smiles.
"I become grumpy when sitting in one place too long. I had to start coming up with solutions to combat that. It showed very concretely that all that small walking around and interactions with people at the office add up and are surprisingly important."
Sharing a physical space with colleagues can do wonders for one's long-term well-being.
Perhaps this is why most people still find the office so crucial: sharing a physical space with colleagues every now and then can do wonders for one's long-term well-being. The official remote work recommendation in Finland is in place until the end of September. Even though most people at Taiste have still chosen to work from home at least partially, Ville has experienced a big shift in the overall atmosphere.
"There's this feeling that people have gotten used to the changes, too. The mood is not as heavy anymore", Ville concludes.
"There's been a lot of talk about how this new way of working is here to stay. I'd like to instead think that things are always changing and we need to find out how to adapt in order to take care ourselves."
The office is dead – long live the office!