Efficient office space utilisation - Rapal Oy

Efficient office space utilisation - Rapal Oy, WWF's Green Office example 2013 

Rapal started to calculate its own carbon footprint in 2008, when the company started to develop its emission calculation service to the customers. Carbon footprint calculation is the most efficient method to indicate the biggest emission sources of an organisation and to understand its environmental impact. With the data collected from the calculations it is possible to plan actions to reduce these impacts. The biggest emission sources in the business premises calculations are most commonly energy usage and transportation.

In the previous premises Rapal had notably much more space per person and most of the company’s carbon footprint consisted of the energy consumption. The situation has changed radically until today, as the energy consumption proportion of the footprint has decreased from 26 % to 8 %. Yet the headcount of the personnel has almost doubled until present.
The old lease contract for the old premises in Ruoholahti, Helsinki was ending in 2008 and Rapal got the chance to start reviewing new options for its premises and work environment. The change process started from identifying the current ways of working and the desired ways of working for each employee during their regular working day. Based on this were defined how the personnel and their work could be most efficiently supported; not only by creating new space solutions but also by creating new remote work and remote meeting policies and establishing different technological solutions to support these. This was a basis for Rapal’s planning for the new work environment and new ways of working.

With the discoveries above in mind, Rapal found three different alternatives for suitable premises in the Helsinki region. The personnel participated through answering an enquiry about these alternatives, in order for the company to find out the most suitable location. The employee commuting preferences to each premise option were asked with the aim of finding out whether one of them would guarantee e.g. more use of public transport. Each alternatives’ facility carbon footprint per square meter was calculated. The options were ranked based on their cost effectiveness, carbon footprint as well as personnel opinions about them.

As a result a new location in Leppävaara, Espoo was chosen for the new premises. This current Rapal activity based office has several different spaces for working (team rooms, break away rooms, drop-in seating, collaborative work studio seats). A new flexible working policy was set up to support the working and good technological conditions were ensured to enable the new policy. Today, every Rapalian has a possibility to work flexibly and the office has come to be above all a meeting point for the employees.

As a consequence, it has been possible to increase the efficiency of the premises: there are less physical square meters per person and thus the carbon footprint per employee has decreased 50 %. Shared desks and clean desk policy have resulted in Rapal being a nearly paperless office. Remote working and meetings are supported actively and this has led to a decrease in commuting. As a result of the change in premises and the new ways of working we have taken a big leap towards our long term ambition – carbon neutral Rapal.

- Anna Aulakoski / Consultant, Green Office team member