Empathic Building, The Future of Office Work with Tomi Teikko

Pasi met with Tomi Teikko, Founder and Soul of Tieto Empathic Building. Tomi shares his vision of empathic reality, where employee experience is taken to the next level.

Pasi met with Tomi Teikko, Founder and Soul of Tieto Empathic Building. Tomi shares his vision of empathic reality, where employee experience is taken to the next level. It's not about pretty interior designs, but how you work with others and the culture you share.



Tieto Empathic Building is helping employees feel happier, more inspired and perform better.

Topics of this episode

  • What is Empathic Building concept?
  • Human as a Sensor vs. IoT Sensor
  • Biofeedback to control office environment

Pasi Nikkanen: Welcome to Happy Today podcast. This is a podcast for those who want to improve service experience of internal services, if you use ServiceNow or other enterprise service management system, then this is for you.

Pasi Nikkanen: Hi, Tomi.

Tomi Teikko: Hi.

Pasi Nikkanen: Welcome to HappyToday podcast.

Tomi Teikko: Thank you.

Pasi Nikkanen: We are here today at Keilalahti, the Tieto headquarters and today we're going to talk about Empathic Buildings and topics related to that. But maybe, short introduction first, like who are you and what's the passion in your work?

Tomi Teikko: Yes, my name is Tomi Teikko. I'm founder of the Empathic Building business in Tieto. Empathic Building is digital solution for end users to survive in the modern digital ways of working. That's like a sort of click. So in a way, it tries to be, I say tries to be, and I hope for future it will be, the user interface between buildings and end users.

Pasi Nikkanen: All right, all right.

Tomi Teikko: That's the idea and why we call it empathic is my own passion to solve things which some intelligent people has said that are really hard to fix, like an obligation's be empathic. Intelligent people say that they can't, but I say they can if, and I think we have little bit discussing about this topic also, that if we actually use human as a sensor and collect feedback and data from humans, we can have obligations which are empathic. And of course, it's my ambition to solve big problems, not small ones. That's why I'm... and I have this vision about empathic reality, so that I want to ensure human-centric content for different type of digital is augmented and virtual realities. That's my mission.

Pasi Nikkanen: All right, all right. Sounds like a nice kind of thing to come to work to every day. I was just interviewing Jacob Morgan, who is talking about employee experience and kind of dividing these things into three things; culture, technology, and the physical space. For the building to be empathic, what all these kind of characteristic, or where does it need to touch, is it just the physical space or what does it include?

Tomi Teikko: Yeah, the employee experience is when you provide best possible employee experience, you need to take care of all of them. They don't work alone. Our digital, Empathic Building is a digital, it's a toolbox and ICT part of the game, and we definitely can not change the culture. It can support new ways of working and boost goal direction, and stuff like that. But, if the core culture of sharing and caring is missing, it doesn't help.

Pasi Nikkanen: So, Empathic Building is not about how does the building looks like, having nice lights and nice furniture, anything like that. It's something else that you bring to them.

Tomi Teikko: Yeah, Emphatic Building brings visible data which is normally, well, you can say hidden or in silos. So, the idea is that, that if you have a data related to the physical space, we can show it. For example that if you have a work culture of sharing desks that you don't have a designated desk, which is quite trendy now. So, Empathic Building can show the data that when these desks has been used and then you can define, for example, clean desk policies and stuff like that. So, the data helps you to make the decision where you work because normally you don't know that. In physical space, you can leave your coffee mug to the table and we serve it to you forever.

Pasi Nikkanen: True, true. And that does happen here because I think both of us have been living the era of just the open office where you view, kind of this nice view of everybody's open, but then people start leaving their stuff and somebody has this monitor of, oh I need to have it here, and I have my coffee mug here.

Tomi Teikko: Yes. How many pictures. All the brochures from different events.

Tomi Teikko: It's a storage space, not a work desk.

Pasi Nikkanen: Exactly, yeah.

Tomi Teikko: And to be honest, the open office with dedicated desks, like a seating, hierarchy, some kind of organisational structure or type of seating, that's actually the worst way of working, because you never know, for example, who is working when next to you and if you work different way or doing different tasks, let's say that other one is on phone and you try to concentrate, it's not possible. So, that was the worst possible way of working, the open office without freedom to change the place where you work.

Pasi Nikkanen: Exactly.

Tomi Teikko: So, I love mordern offices that you have total freedom of selecting where you work. And then, comes the digital. So, the digital helps you to make the decision where you work. You can see the temperature levels, you can see the lighting, you can see is there someone or you can even see where is your boss because sometimes you don't want to see your boss. And sometimes you need advice and you want to know where the boss is, and that's all. So, the digital can help you.

Pasi Nikkanen: How we measure employee experience is just about perception. It's not how long the process took or quickly somebody closed a ticket. It's about the perception and the feeling, and it's sometimes very difficult for some customers or prospects to understand it, how can you just measure feeling. But, you're talking about humans as a sensor in some of your material. So, what do you mean with that then? What do you try to do? What have you been doing around that topic?

Tomi Teikko: Okay. Without going directly to that, I need to little bit open this sensor thing. I was inside of Tieto we had this internal start-up, doing products related to IoT (Internet of Things), so big data sensors, analytics, stuff like that. And when I was meeting customers, and I was meeting technology vendors or companies building sensors, I actually noticed that very rarely they think that they could use humans as a sensor. So, because human is the best sensor ever created, there is no sensor that can smell, see, feel as accurate as human can and as humans we can even process that data. Let's have a very stupid, stupid example like using human as a sensor and using technical sensors. Let's say that you have a coffee machine which is the source of all the performance levels in office. Of course, if the coffee machine doesn't work, your productivity levels-

Tomi Teikko: They are dropping.

Pasi Nikkanen: We just got the grinder broken one day at the office and it was the number one topic at Slack.

Tomi Teikko: Yes. Exactly. So, coffee machine needs to work. Okay. Now, let's take a typical IT and IoT approach for this heart wrencher that people get coffee all the time. So, you put sensors and some type of connections to the coffee machine, and you collect the data to the big data cloud, and then you have some kind of analytics that when milk level is less than something, then send a message to someone who is going to fix or fill the milk there that everybody can get the latte’s and so on, and doing the predicted analytics so that you can send the message 10 minutes before the milk runs out, that you have the continuous experience.

All right. Let's have a human as a sensor approach. And by the way, that type of IT project 150 thousand or so. All right, let's have another approach. Let's have an ordinary sensor button, from Amazon or somewhere, $10. Let's put the button there and link it to someone's phone who is fixing the coffee machine and put their sign saying that whenever there is a problem or something runs out, press the button. Okay. Now, if the button is there two days, people might press it when milk runs out, but even during the three or four days, people start to be predictive because they know that if they extend 15 minutes to someone to come in, so they start pressing the button automatically 15 minutes before the milk runs out. So, we are actually, can be very predictive and ten dollars compared to the 150 thousand euros, maybe something we should consider. As a stupid example, but we rarely think how we could use humans as a sensor.

Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah, we see the same thing. Like we had a customer who was measuring how does everything happen and they had the IT outsourced, and the guys were always answering the phone like, hello, it's me in here and it's nice weather, how are you doing, and all this stuff. And the perception for the people was that it's slow. I have to explain myself several times and whatnot. And then they just started to learn it, okay, these are Norwegian people, they want to go straight to the point, so first send the message that, okay, I'm about to call you about this and this, and I'm this person. And then when they phone, just go straight to the point, and basically it took the same time in ticket time, but the perception went up, they were like, yes, now I don't lose my work time, I'm so happy with this service now. And it was nothing to do with technology, it was just how do you talk to the human sensor.

Tomi Teikko: Yeah. And treat people as they want to be treated instead of having some kind of manner wall that you need to say all this, hello. Who wants to be friends with that person working in IT service? Sorry people doing that work, you do excellent work, but I don't want to be friend with you. I want you to fix my problem as fast as possible.

Pasi Nikkanen: Exactly, yes, yes. I had some topic, but then we went into this whole coffee machine thing. What about some other examples? How do you use Empathic Buildings to really improve their experience? What kind of cases have you done with customers and that?

Tomi Teikko: Empathic Building is quite new in a business, as it is the user interface of the end users. So it's not intranet, it's not Yammer, it's not email. It's basically user interface which hasn't  existed yet. So, to be honest, all our customer cases are really different depending on the work culture, even the buyer can be different. So, we have our customers, we have the buyer and our end customer, and business owner's HR, we have customers who is, when the product owner is IT, and we have facilities as customers.

So, there is a huge difference depending, like a used case is that we start soft and with Empathic Building digital solution we can solve very simple things. For example, how you book a meeting room or which room you are going to work in and so on, which is more related to physical space. But then, at the same time, Empathic Building has been used, in HR function, to measure how people feel. And we are also, what I see for the future is that more smarter ways of collecting feedback from human sensors that when you have a situation, you should be able to observe something, for example if there is something wrong with the meeting room, easy way to immediately give feedback or create ticket or whatever you want to create.

Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah, because other solutions are working with service management and also in the enterprise service management. So, it could also be the connection of actually creating that ticket from the meeting room or whatever you have, like even from the coffee machine, the button could be connected directly then to the ServiceNow and... yeah.

Tomi Teikko: Yes. Exactly and as Empathic Building is a user interface, it just creatively get what happens background. It can be human operated or we do integrations to do the ticket systems, because you need to know... also the thing is that things can be very silo-ed and also so in process prospective that from the end user prospective, if they know that there is something wrong with some device in medical, you don't know if is it IT problem or facility or third party or who is actually fixing it. You just need to report it and then the intelligent process can find, can categorise it and then format the ticket to the correct silo. Okay, this goes to the service operator, and this goes to IT.

Pasi Nikkanen: Could it also identify the employee who is having the issue?

Tomi Teikko: We can do that, yes, but in most of the cases, we want to keep the data minimal so that we don't want to block people to report or give feedback because-

Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah, yeah. I was wondering if you would say that there's one staff and three customers now in the meeting room, this might be a priority so that you kind of...

Tomi Teikko: Well, that type of data we have. So, in customer implementations where you also tag visitors, and you know the staff then you can have the data. Empathic Building can provide the data that how many persons are in, how many externals, how many internals and stuff like that without going into the detail levels of identities. Identity sharing is always optional and totally volunteer based stuff if you want to share your identity.

Pasi Nikkanen: We were talking before we started on this, also the human sensor, but also the bio-feedback thing. So, you said there's some use case and maybe there's another building coming up in UK.

Tomi Teikko: Yes. Yeah, we are going to... I don't know if this is world's first, but I have a hunch that it might be, so we are going to take like a smart building kind of thinking to the next level. So, that we will actually measure bio-feedback from some kind of variable. As example, we are going to pilot Oura ring, which is very nice Finnish innovation.

Pasi Nikkanen: It is, yes.

Tomi Teikko: And to measure your preferred temperature and preferred lighting. For example, if you need to be more energised, if your energy levels are dropping we can adjust automatically all the lighting colour or lighting levels to more energised type of feelings and the same thing with the temperature levels, we can adjust automatically. So, we have partners there, the location is in building centre in London quite near to the British Museum, very nicely located that is an area reserved for, we call it well-being experience exhibition, and there you can really go in and see how lighting and temperature is adjusted based on your physical preferences from your human body. So, we think that is going to be first one.

There is a lot of solutions who are doing, like we already have, you can define your preferred room temperature yourself, but that's messaged automatically real time from your body, I think that's the first one.

Interesting stuff coming.

Pasi Nikkanen: So, now if the listeners want to learn more, so where should they go where they can then find more information about the Empathic Building?

Tomi Teikko: That's easy, empathicbuilding.com.

Pasi Nikkanen: Okay. I'll put that in the show notes so people can click on it. All right. Hey, thank you so much, Tomi. It was a really nice pleasure and it's interesting to hear those different aspects. I think we, like you guys, are all trying to work on this, kind of around the same topics, just tackling from different directions. And I think, like you said, we can't do one without the other, so we have to have a lot of different approaches to the employee experience.

Tomi Teikko: Yeah.

Pasi Nikkanen: Thank you.

Tomi Teikko: Thank you.

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