Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, Morgan Stanley, Nike, Orange… When these and many other companies, each more famous than the other, need some peace and quiet in their open-plan offices, they contact the Tampere-based Framery.
This interview was conducted in what is practically the office of the future. The staff at Framery’s production facilities are busying themselves with the assembly of the company’s first key export product, the sound-insulated Framery O phone booth, which is particularly well-suited to open-plan offices. At the same time, the company is developing its next office innovation. The discussion with Ossi Paija, CEO of Framery, takes place by a prototype that cannot be described in more detail just yet.
“When this turns into a finished product, it may very well revolutionise working in an open-plan office. We can talk more about it next year,” Paija says.
Established in Tampere, Finland, in 2010, Framery is already experienced in revolutionising things. The problems of open-plan offices are well-known everywhere: noise reduces productivity. It is hard to concentrate on work in a room where people are also discussing and talking on the phone – and it is no easier to concentrate on an important phone call. This is the exact situation that the founders of Framery were experiencing at their own workplace when they came up with the idea for their company: what we need is a phone booth. Since the first version, the booth has been completely revamped many times.
“There are surprisingly many issues that need to be solved before the phone booth really works as a finished product. Acoustics, ventilation, ergonomics, usability, appearance… Today, when we deliver a phone booth to a customer, we don’t need to go and make improvements to it afterwards. By contrast, the customer sends their thanks and orders more products,” Paija says.
Customer feedback and opinions have had a great impact on the development of the phone booth. Framery’s product philosophy focuses on the user and his/her comfort, so listening to practical tips and solving any problems are a natural part of the culture. In the office of the future, everything is human-centric and built around the people, not as rows of desks and screens.
“The employee can freely select where to work, and can easily move from a workstation that allows discussion to complete silence. The coffeemaker and printer are close at hand, and you can make it to the nearest phone booth while your phone is ringing, before answering.”
There are fewer large meeting rooms in the future office than there are today. If most negotiations are conducted between 2–4 people or as web conferences, there is no need to have meeting rooms for 10 people. By contrast, various facilities are mixed, and the employees can decide themselves what kind of workspace they want to use at each time. Solving the problems of open-plan offices requires a number of office innovations, and Framery wants to be a global leader in these.
“Increasing occupational comfort is what we at Framery are ultimately aiming for. Comfort increases concentration and efficiency, helps keep skilled employees committed and establishes opportunities for creating new ideas and innovations,” Paija says.
The product is good and sells well. Framery moved to larger premises in Sarankulma, Tampere, in December 2014. At that time, the production plant was sending out around four phone booths per week. Less than a year later, the average rate is eight booths per day, and the rapid growth seems to continue. Every week, a few retailers from various corners of the world are asking if they can get the Framery phone booth in their selection.
“According to customs statistics, around 20 per cent of Finland’s office furniture exports come from us, so in that sense it can be said that the office of the future already comes from Tampere,” Paija notes.
At the Neocon 2015 interiors show in Chicago last summer, Framery received the Neocon Gold Award, which has been referred to as the Academy Award of the furniture business. According to Paija, it is interesting to be the focal point of global furniture business, seeing that nobody in the company had any previous experience in the field. Their common background is at Tampere University of Technology, where they studied industrial management, and Protomo, which helped them in the early stages.
“Our breakthrough has been made easier by the fact that we first concentrated on one key product and everyone has a clear, shared understanding of what we are doing. It must also be said that I’m sure we have only scratched the surface, since our products are also suited to many other applications than just offices.”
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