In Finland, an ‘intelligent’ office could change the way people think about working

From desk-based lunches and family photos pinned on walls to hours spent working overtime, the buildings we work in can often resemble a second home.

Whether this is a good or bad thing is open to debate, but one thing is for sure: the way an office space is designed — and the technology used within that space — can impact the wellbeing, happiness and productivity of a workforce.

In Finland, one firm has designed what it describes as an “intelligent head office.” Opened in late 2016, Tieto’s re-designed headquarters near Helsinki boasts a platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certificate.

Tieto’s Jyri Kivinen said the digital space the firm had built on top of infrastructure meant it could “now monitor the wellbeing of the people, see the people flows and the utilizations of different floors.”

The company’s Tieto Empathic Building solution uses smart technology to provide a wealth of information on the office environment. Using an on-screen interface, employees can find free workstations, find out where their colleagues are and search for work spaces based on air quality, temperature and noise.

Kivinen said that the biggest issue when trying to make buildings more sustainable was “the current infrastructure, the current hardware that is installed in these buildings.”

“They have been implemented throughout several decades so the systems usually don’t actually already communicate with each other,” he added.

These developments might have a futuristic feel, but how realistic is it to create a human-centric building that is able to improve the well-being of people inside it?

“It absolutely is,” Derek Clements-Croome, an emeritus professor at the University of Reading, told CNBC. “We … are sensory beings, we live through our senses: the look and feel of the place, the colors, the air, the views out of the windows,” he added. “All of these things have an effect on our emotions, our physical being, our general positive outlook in the daily life that we lead.”