Productization in the Construction Industry: Interview with Workspace

Service productization can help construction companies do better business and have more satisfied clients.

AEC Business had the opportunity to interview Jyrki Yläoutinen, Executive Workplace Consultant at Workspace, a consulting and design agency specializing in workplace design and management and based in Helsinki, Finland, to learn how they productized their service and the benefits they achieved.

Can you say a few words about your company?

jyrki-ylaoutinenWe are a leading Nordic consulting and design agency specializing in workplace design and management. We started in 2006 and have worked with over 1,000 change projects in the past ten years. We operate mainly in Scandinavia and Baltic countries. Half of our staff are consultants from different backgrounds and half are interior architects and designers, so we are strongly related to the built environment. 

What is your service, what is the problem that it is solving and for whom?

The ways of working are changing more than we can imagine, and there is a big need for integrative design (Human Resource Design (HRD) + space management + Information Communication Technology (ICT).  New organizational structures and business models need new environmental solutions. Culture change needs support. Ecological footprint must be smaller. This is what we do – we provide the full range of services in workspace change that helps our clients with all of these changes.

We don’t sell our services to real estate; we sell our services to businesses. Top management is usually our contact point. For us it’s not just about helping the client with design, it’s about helping them achieve their business goals. 

What is unique or exceptional about your service?

What set us apart from competitors are our integrated services and our multi-professional team (process development, HRD, change management, brand development, spatial design, support for strategy implementation, project management, etc.). We’ve been operating for ten years that way and it is still unique.

It allows us to have a very agile, client-centric approach, working with the client from beginning to end of their workplace change process.

Can you briefly walk us through your service process?

We mostly take on full process projects and only projects that would support businesses.

  1. Identify opportunities and challenges in the workplace change
  2. Create a concept that supports the future business (organization) and work (people)
  3. Make an implementation plan
  4. Design new solutions
  5. Support people in change
  6. Evaluate results
  7. Make next step proposals

How did you develop and productize your service?

In 1999, when I worked as an architect and designer, I was very artistic. But I soon realized that I need to start thinking with a business mindset. Once you decide that you will go to business, the next step is choosing where you want to be best. We decided that we would not focus on individuals, but on businesses. We wanted to do B2B and redefine the professional identity of an architect customer centric way. For us it was a radical innovation, it changed our mind set and the way we approach the problems.

The Finnish game industry is succeeding because they test their ideas with clients very early and very fast. They know soon if the idea will succeed or fail. We do the same with our clients. We test early and often and find our best offering.

What benefits do your client and your company get from a productized service?

Clients buy a solution to their problem, and most importantly, they know and understand what they are buying. When they buy are product, they are buying results. Often clients understand the problem, but they don’t know so much about the opportunities or the process that goes into solving. Productization makes things understandable and in the end clients are more satisfied.

For us it has helped develop a more efficient process. We use less time for sales and negotiations. We have less mismatching expectations and a better reputation. The work is more interesting and there are economic benefits. 

What have you learned from developing and delivering your service? What does it take to be successful?

The main motive for productization is to make buying easy and safe. You need big ears and a small mouth. You have to start from somewhere and test the idea very soon with clients (not your colleagues). Productization is not a project. It’s a process and a cultural question. Most companies are looking too much inside instead of really focusing on the client.

Any words of advice to companies considering productization?

Client first. Client first. Then your services.

What are your future plans?

The world is becoming more networked and integrated; it’s becoming even more flat. The next generation will have much less limits on how they work, where they work, with whom they work. It will not be about an international perspective, but a global perspective, where international as a concept will become ancient history. As the world of our client changes, we are constantly thinking -what can we do to adjust to that? How can we help here? Digitalization has been a great enabler, but the biggest change for us is the cultural change. We want to be a part of this new world.