A changing culture: Service Centre

The Service Centre is a service concept created by the city of Espoo, which gathers services under the same roof in the Iso Omena shopping centre. The Service Centre arrangement makes it easy to use several different services and lowers the threshold for cooperation between the different units. In the autumn of 2017, at the end of the Service Centre’s first year of operation, an ethnographic study was commenced. The main goals of the study were to map the changes in the culture of public services and study the conditions for joint development and the role as a platform for innovation. As part of the study, we also studied the effects of the shopping centre setting on client behaviour and of the development of well-being at work at the Service Centre. We also tried to create an understanding for the preparedness and challenges of the Service Centre. As a result of the study, clear steps were also created for the future of the Service Centre.

The study focused on the everyday life of the Service Centre and created a basis for suggestions for activities through different interviews. Interviewees were recruited throughout the autumn of 2017, and around 100 people were reached. In-depth interviews with representatives of different personnel units and potential partners were combined with shorter interviews with customers, employees and existing partners. The interviews proved that the Service Centre brought change to the public services of Espoo. Bringing the public services into a space that felt natural for the citizens lowered the threshold for visiting and enabled a dialogue with groups that are difficult to reach. The Service Centre revolutionised the everyday work of the employees and created a new basis for joint development.

The project ended with and assessment and a description of the preparedness and conditions for joint development at the Iso Omena Service Centre as well as the challenges associated with it. The study showed how the introduction of the Service Centre had influenced and continued to influence the culture, the image of the services and the well-being of the employees of the Service Centre. As a concrete result, we have together created a checklist for the future of the Service Centre, which allows for a common vision and the introduction of a common development approach. During the project, we also created an analysis of the pain points and possible challenges of the Service Centre, through which the services can be developed to become even more useful and functional in the future.