SEB opened a four-person delegation in Finland in 1984. Today it operates only one branch, but employs around 350 members of staff. At the turn of the 2010s, SEB’s growth meant it had already spread to two buildings on a property on Unioninkatu. The premises overall were labyrinthine and there was a large renovation on the horizon. It was time to take a look at the alternatives, and cooperation with Ecorum began. The year was 2014.

Professionals identify hidden potential

Ecorum’s team began to map and investigate leased spaces offered by various owners. Before long the team found that a building owned by LähiTapiola on Eteläesplanadi perhaps contained a solution that met all the client’s criteria and wishes. The idea seemed financially and technically feasible, even though the building’s lease agreements would have to be reorganised and the premises fully renovated.

  • SEB head office
    View of the foyer with premises and a staircase to connect people in the background

    View of the foyer with premises and a staircase to connect people in the background

Lease agreement in 2015, move in 2017

A lease agreement was signed in January 2015, construction began a year later, and the move to the new premises took place according to the planned schedule in April 2017. That demolition work on the building took almost six months perhaps reveals the extent of the changes. SEB leased approximately 5,500 m² of space; almost the entire eight-storey building, with the exception of the two uppermost floors.

A clear contract and documentation

Ecorum acted as an advisor from the spatial needs specification phase until the final inspection and implementation of the new SEB building. A specialist was needed particularly during the preparation of the lease agreement, when the quality of the spaces to be constructed for the tenant is documented and future maintenance responsibilities are agreed. The selection of other important partners, such as an interior architect and technical supervisor also went smoothly with Ecorum’s help.

  • SEB head office café
    The café on the second floor is also used for customer meetings.

    The café on the second floor is also used for customer meetings.

Focusing on a change in culture and working methods

SEB was also aiming at a functional change – from a labyrinthine office to a multipurpose one, with the designer beginning with individual needs, working methods, and the visitor experience. There was a desire to move away from the stuffy cabinet and bank branch feel during customer meetings. The new café, for example, has received good feedback all round.

Everyone involved in design

Almost the entire staff participated in the design and moving preparations. Naturally, the efforts of the HR and IT departments in moving was significant, as was the role of the procurement department and SEB Group’s own
property unit in construction matters. The Finnish organisation’s CFO Nikolas Rokkanen bore primary responsibility for the distribution of work among corporate management

Why do we need a professional, and how do we make use of one?

”Many corporate managers don’t face any significant premises projects in their careers, and so very few of them have solid experience in the area. That’s why we carefully prepare a project and allocate resources. We know that surprises can crop up even in the implementation phase, and there are a whole range of details that need to be coordinated. Once we had found a suitable advisor for these situations, we knew at every step of the way whether a matter was trivial, important, or critical. With Ecorum’s support, we were able to compromise at the right time, and consistently safeguard our interests in critical issues. As such, cooperation between the lessor and the primary contractor Lemminkäinen went very smoothly,” explains Nikolas Rokkanen.

A challenging project, a positive mood

“Ecorum also assisted us with project management group work, overseeing e.g. the implementation and costs of agreed details. From my own perspective the project was marked throughout by a positive mood, even though I took care of the challenging project alongside my other tasks. It felt as though there were a red phone on my table that I could use at any point to check whether my own views were accurate – or to ask a specialist to suggest a solution. I can warmly recommend this operating method and partner to others. Our project reached its end goal very successfully,” adds Rokkanen.

Nikolas Rokkanen

- CFO

A tour of the SEB building

  • SEB head office

The building tour offers a few surprises, the first of which you’ll see immediately upon entering the building. The foyer service is not located behind a desk as is traditional; instead, customers are met without pomp and ceremony at a bar table.

As you might expect, the new premises are entirely modern, fine, and representative. The surprise is that the office environment itself feels the same – not just cosy, but even relaxing and homely.

The new premises were designed with the working name “Nordic Village”. Workstations form organic clusters and an open staircase in the middle of the village consolidates the communal feeling. Here everyone can be seen and no-one is forgotten.