When picturing a consulting office, the same generic image comes to mind: rows of task chairs, clusters of colourful lounge seating, and corporate branding at every turn. With its design for EY’s Helsinki office, local firm Fyra set out to change that. In lieu of large logos and bold graphics, EY wanted a space that would speak for itself, reflecting the consulting firm’s team-focused and collaborative culture. Fyra delivered with a warm and inviting interior that feels more akin to a restaurant or hotel lobby than a workspace.

EY Helsinki office

To reduce the carbon emissions associated with new construction, the firm opted for an extensive renovation of two existing office buildings from 1956 and 1960, plus a two-storey extension. Both their structural frames, as well as the heritage details that lent the buildings their unique character, were carefully preserved. From there, Fyra layered in contemporary details to complement these classic elements, such as the lobby’s marble floors, copper window frames and mahogany steps.

EY Helsinki office

Sustainability being top of mind, the designers embraced circular economy practices, reusing existing materials and upcycling, and where that was not possible, utilizing low-carbon options. In this same vein, they also sought to create a timeless space in order to avoid unnecessary renovations down the line. They landed on a Scandinavian-inspired palette of blonde wood, navy, brown, rounded out with graphic black and white upholstery that adds a sense of whimsy, and incorporated greenery through a new garden atrium.

EY Helsinki office

In designing the office layout, Fyra worked with EY employees — through interviews, surveys, observation, workshops and user profile research — to tailor the workspace to their individual needs and the firm’s flexible hybrid work model. A test lab in the old office was also used to pilot user experience (particularly in collaborative zones), furniture solutions and surface materials before implementing them on a larger scale in the new office.

Collaboration area with curved wood walls and white board
Curved wooden bookshelf with seating behind

Through this engagement process, and the subsequent analysis of collected data, Fyra determined the allocation of space for each zone, which the firm has dubbed the “5 C’s.” The Collaboration zone is ideal for team days, drop-in laptop work with colleagues and ad hoc meetings, while the Co-creation zone is designed for client-facing tasks. The slightly more introverted Communication zone is optimized for paired and individual work, and the Concentration zone carves out a quiet space for high-focus tasks.

EY Helsinki office

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Chilling Out zone consists of social spaces such as cafes, primarily intended for relaxation both during and after working hours. The office, which accommodates approximately 900 workers, is divided into neighbourhoods best suited to different aspects of the business.

Counter height wood table with black stools in front of wine bottle storage

EY’s forward-thinking approach to consulting is reflected in its operations. The company leverages advanced technology to improve collaboration and employee experience, such as its smart office tool which helps employees locate their team members, find available desks, reserve meeting rooms, and locate the best setup for any given task. Sensors are currently in place to monitor how the space is being used, allowing the company to make data-driven decisions and adjust the workplace setup if needed.

EY Helsinki office

With flexible spatial solutions and a focus on employee well-being, Fyra has succeeded in designing a workspace that exudes all the comfort and approachability of a hospitality setting. With amenities including a gym, breakfast and lunch services and barista-made coffees, employees hardly ever have to leave. And while the practice of providing these perks has been criticized for thwarting optimal work-life balance, who wouldn’t want to spend more time at the office if it looked like this?

Yellow sofa in front of green wall

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