Current Projects

ENSCC Smart Commuting – Smart and Mobile Work in Growth Regions (2016-2018)

This project explores new ways of combining work and life with new intelligent transport system services and new concepts for supporting sustainable commuting. The mobility of workforce is increasing due to technology development, commuting and the nature of work. This has many consequences as long commuting may decrease the productivity of work and leave less time for relaxation. Cities also have to address commuting when planning technical solutions, developing services and calculating finance schemes. The first objective of this project is to identify the changing needs of mobile workers. The second objective is to increase the sustainability of mobility by supporting the implementation of sustainable and intelligent transportation services. The consortium will collect data by observations, surveys, interviews and workshops in Austria, Finland and Switzerland to evaluate how these new services meet the evolving needs of mobile workers. In addition, we will use simulations to provide decision support for stakeholders address urban planning and governance structures challenges. Implementations in large commuting areas are pivotal aspects of this project. Implementations in different areas help to scale up our partners’ operations, get experiences about the needs of users and also discover some common ground for governance and city planning policies.

This project is a part of the ERA-NET Cofund Smart Cities and Communities (ENSCC), which was established by theJoint Programming Initiative (JPI) Urban Europe and the Smart Cities Member States Initiative (SC MSI). This vmWork led project is carried out in collaboration with Austrian Institute of Technology’s Dynamic Transportation Systems Business Unit and the Institute of Sustainable Development from Zurich University of Applied Sciences. The project also has four company partners (AC2SG Software Oy, Liikennevirta Oy, Tuup Oy, tbw research GesmbH) and three co-operation partners representing our case areas (The Growth Corridor Finland, The Kanton Basel-Stadt, and ISTmobil GmbH).

The project started 1.4.2016 and is planned to last for two years. For more information visit:

Contact information:

Teemu Surakka


MatchDesign – Collaborative designs for value creation beyond boundaries (2015-2017)

The increasing dynamism, digitalization, and globalization of business challenges organizations to respond by creating new types of professional collaborations that are fluid and linked with customers and external partners. According to the latest research, as much as 70 % of inter-organizational partnerships fail to meet their objectives. Similar numbers have been estimated for global teams alike. Yet, researchers have paid scant attention to the design of intellectual capital to manage the demands of boundary-spanning collaborations.

MatchDesign project aims to unravel how the 30% – 40% of organizations who succeed in boundary-spanning design their intellectual capital for value-creating collaboration with partners, suppliers and/or customers. By utilizing different theoretical (international management, work psychology, and information systems) as well as methodological (qualitative, quantitative, and social network analysis) approaches, this research project will provide new theoretical understanding and applicable strategies, practices, and tools for practitioners’ use to develop boundary-spanning collaborations in global and inter-organizational settings.

Research partners:
Aalto School of Science: Niina Nurmi, Ph.D., Emma Nordbäck, Johanna Koroma, Merit Morikawa
Aalto Business School: Professor Kristiina Mäkelä, Tuuli Hakkarainen, Lucas Humphrey
UC Berkeley: Brandi Pearce, Ph.D.
Santa Clara University: Professor Terri Griffith
American University: Professor Alberto Espinosa

Contact information:

Dr. Niina Nurmi


POP-UP Knowledge work productivity research project
Social media: #PopUpResearch

The goal of the project is to create new research information and practical solutions to solve the productivity and wellbeing crisis of the current work life. The unit of analysis is human doing knowledge work in a physical, virtual, social, and emotional dimensions of a work environment. Aalto researcher concentrate on developing LifeScope methodology that has a role in measuring changes in the daily working life. LifeScope methodology utilizes mobile sensors and smartphones to better capture the relevant data. Vigofere Oy provides their product Mood Metric (a ring & an app) to be used in the project. The project also utilizes a POP-UP method developed in Tampere University of Technology to study and develop company partners. The method allows fast iterations of experimenting of changes in the practices and habits of workers and measuring the productivity and wellbeing effects of those interventions.

The developed concept is utilizable in many environments bringing the impact of the results significant. The project combines expertise and experience of relevant fields to solve problems central to Finland’s economy in a way that is repeatable also after the project.

Tekes funds this project in cooperation with the universities. The project is scheduled to run 1.1.2015-31.12.2016. The researcher consortium is multidisciplinary consisting of researchers from Performance Management team, Human-Centered Technology unit, and the Department of Architecture from Tampere University of Technology; and the Virtual and Mobile Work Research Unit from Aalto University.

The companies participating in the project are: Arkkitehtitoimisto Helamaa & Heiskanen Oy, Suomen Yliopistokiinteistöt Oy, Tampereen kaupunkiseudun elinkeino- ja kehitysyhtiö Tredea Oy, Martela Oy, and Vigofere Oy.

Contact to:

Ph.D. Student Eero Palomäki,

tel. +358-50-5907215


Follow the project blog

Kuva: Jenni Poutanen

Kuva: Jenni Poutanen

Smart and Flexible Work and Living in Metropolitan Areas (2013-2015) – CityWorkLife

As globalization, ICT development and environmental issues have increased the needs and enabled new types of work arrangements they have also multiplied the number of work locations. Public spaces (e.g. coffee houses, libraries), telecenters, and private homes have become common places of work. The project focuses on these new workspaces to develop flexible working and living in metropolitan areas. We explore how employees as citizens mix and melt work and living in and out of the ‘main office’, and how places and technologies integrate into working and living practices. We examine the other ways and places of work both from the perspective of organizations, supervisors, work groups, and employees as well as from the point of view of urban planning. The main goals of the project are: 1) to study different public and private places as flexible work environments and 2) to explore organizational, leadership and employee perspectives on flexible work in detail. Project’s partner organizations include TeliaSonera Finland, Finnair, Helsinki City Library, Workspace, Café Köket and Regus Finland.

The project will be conducted in collaboration with Aalto UniversityUniversity of California Santa Barbara and Santa Clara University. The research project is funded by Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation and partner organizations.

Contact information:

Dr. Anu Sivunen

tel. +358-40-7354279


Follow our blog on flexible work!

Global Time (2012-2015)

This research project investigates the demands and corresponding resources (different forms of intellectual capital) of global work and their effects on employee well-being and innovativeness. The project aims to promote global worker innovativeness and well-being in teamwork across time zones by:

  1. Identifying the demands/challenges of teamwork across time zones and the corresponding resources (human, structural, and relational capital) organizations use to manage them;
  2. Identifying how the demands and resources of global work contribute to global workers’ well-being and innovativeness;
  3. Developing individual-level intervention practices for employees to improve their self-management skills, well-being, and innovativeness in global work;
  4. Delivering guidelines for developing organizational and societal policies that promote renewal and maintenance of intangible assets.

In addition to reporting our findings in academic venues, we provide feedback to the studied individuals, teams, and companies to ensure team, individual, and organizational learning. Moreover, we develop solution suggestions for policies at the national, company, and team levels to ensure also future well-being and consequent innovative capability of global teams and workers.

The data of our project is gathered from our industrial partners and co-sponsors Nokia and Kone.  Firstbeat and Humap provide their expertise to the project.  Our main sponsor is Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation and we collaborate intensively with Stanford University, Center for Work, Technology, and Organization.

Contact to:

Dr. Niina Nurmi,


UNCODE (2012-2015)

UPDATE: a video explaining the central aims and some preliminary results of the project can be viewed here.

This project is carried out by Aalto University, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, and Stanford University. The objective is to identify the stressors and cognitive demands of learners in multi-cultural and cross-disciplinary collaboration in technology-mediated environment. In more detail, we investigate:

  • Hidden cognitive demands of multi-cultural and cross-disciplinary collaboration in rich multi-media environments and their impact on global workers’ and students’ well-being and engagement;
  • Warning signs that could be identified from physiological data during or prior to a non-optimal learning/work state;
  • Ways that global team members can use to monitor and self-regulate their cognitive load, well-being, and engagement during global collaboration.

This project develops a theoretical framework to study the relationships between the demands of global learning environment, well-being, and cognition. We draw on traditions of situated global project-based learning, work and organizational psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and neuroergonomics.

The findings of this project will contribute to knowledge about health, well-being, and performance risks in global collaboration, and how these risks can be managed in order to avoid negative consequences on health, learning, and deterioration of cognitive performance.

The data of our project is gathered from our industrial partners and co-sponsors Nokia and Kone and from the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Global Teamwork global course teams in the Problem-based Learning Laboratory at Stanford University. Firstbeat provide their expertise to the project. Our sponsors are Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation – and NSF – National Science Foundation, USA. Uncode is a part of SAVI (A Science Across Virtual Institutes) research collaboration connecting sixteen teams of researchers in Finland and the USA.

Contact to:

Ph.D. Student Johanna Koroma,

tel. +358 504358087



Past Projects

Rapid Innovation Practices (2012-2014) – RAPI

RAPI-project approached the speed of innovation in a new way by creating understanding about the nature of the speed and its impacts on productivity and personnel’s interactive roles. As important as it is to launch new services, solutions and related physical products and technologies to market as quickly as possible, it is paramount to understand if speed is a contributory factor in productivity or just increases the risk of failure. To increase staff motivation and innovativeness an organization must also identify the respective context of innovation and enable the right tools and procedures. The research emphasized highlighted the increasing role of tacit knowledge in the global business environment, and the need for new participatory methods, tools and roles that stimulate and activate the interaction across different (organizational) interfaces. RAPI project was led by Aalto University’s research unit Innovation Management Institute and was conducted in collaboration with vmWork and IDM.

Mobile Method to Study Multi-locational Work 2013 (MobiMe)

Working from multiple locations has become more common along the increase in mobile technology and application usage. Many people work in changing working environments, having a substantial effect on work fluency, well-being, and work satisfaction. There doesn’t exist many research or analysis methods to study the factors affecting in these working environments. Due to the nature of mobile work traditional ethnographical methods or shadowing can be problematic. This project studied the possibilities to utilize mobile devices in researching working environments, movement, and the automatic recording of events. Also, situation and place specific experiences were reported and analyzed through the mobile devices. The goal of the project was to develop a research method especially to study the contexts, and recognize and describe the features of multi-locational or mobile work and a tool to help individual workers and work communities to plan their daily work. Using the collected data, we were able to visualize the actions and day patterns of mobile and multi-locational workers.

Collaboration Environments in Global Distributed Product Processes (2010-2013) – ColPro

The purpose of this research project was to design, analyze, and evaluate new collaborative working environments (CWE) in the development of high-quality interactions and collaborations in global product processes, for example, when a company is delivering customer services. CWEs are a combination of infrastructures and environments  – including physical, virtual, social and organizational spaces – supporting individual and collaborative work. We aimed to determine the factors influencing the design, implementation, adaptation and use of CWEs by identifying enablers and hindrances in the use of these environments. Our research concentrated especially on the functionality and usability of virtual tools and human and organization practices when companies are operating in different countries and continents, and their employees collaborate remotely with each other. The research was done in collaboration with Strategic Usability Research Group (STRATOS) from Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Aalto University School of Science, Media Technologies from VTT and  PBL Lab of Stanford University (USA)  Our industrial partners were: AAC Global, ABB Motors, DNA, Inno-W, Konecranes, Metso Automation and UPM. The research project was funded by Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation and partner companies.

Professional Collaboration and Productivity in Virtual Worlds (2009-2013) – ProViWo

This research project studies how virtual worlds can be used in professional, work-related collaboration and to enhance productivity in globally distributed teams. Here, virtual worlds refer to 3D environments, where users can flexibly change their avatars. This study explores both the strategical and managerial point of views to virtual worlds at work and studies different kinds of professional collaboration possibilities and productivity potentials of virtual worlds in-depth. First, the strategic uses of virtual worlds at work are studied and the good practices of using virtual worlds for professional collaboration are explored. Second, collaboration in a virtual world is studied in different events (e.g. brainstorming sessions and virtual team meetings) with partner companies. Additionally, research results are reported in two international seminars organized by the project as well as in prestigious international conferences and journals. This research is a collaboration project with Stanford University (USA), VU Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and Stockholm School of Economics (Sweden).

Well-being from a Short-Haul Office (Hyvinvointia lähityöstä) (2011-2012)

This development project is the first phase of a larger research program exploring facilities, well-being and new ways of work.  In this first phase a concept of a short-haul office is designed and created. Short-haul office is defined as a way of work which increases personnel’s flexibility and enables employees to utilize multiple work locations, especially offices near their home. The concept is based on the theories of multi-locational and distributed work as well as on practical and environmental motivators, such as reducing commuting and CO2 emissions. Case study will be conducted at a case company TeliaSonera.
Short-haul office concept will be developed by studying the physical, virtual and social prerequisites of multi-locational work as well as by evaluating the current work spaces and ways of working. Data on current work, locations of work as well as on employees’ mobility, use of space and technology is collected by interviews, questionnaires and other methods (e.g. mobile observation). Based on the analysis, there will be a series of workshops together with the personnel,  in which the concept of short-haul office is co-designed. Project Manager: Anu Sivunen

Read more about the project in Finnish (pdf, 3 pages).

Virtual Worlds as Innovative Working Environments (2009-2011) – VIIWE

This research project studies how virtual worlds can enhance innovative collaboration in distributed teams and in global context. The project has two major aims and phases. First we review the current state-of-art literature and studies of innovative uses of virtual worlds as collaboration platforms in different situations (organizational training sessions, ad hoc meetings, product development prototyping sessions, etc.). Second, we interview a sample of managers and employees of companies currently using virtual worlds in order to explore the uses of virtual worlds as working environments and to find the best practices and future potential of virtual worlds. The study will be conducted in collaboration with Telematica Institute and University of St.Gallen – two leading European universities studying virtual worlds at the moment. Moreover, the insights gained from the vmWork Unit’s close collaboration with Stanford University’s virtual world researchers will be utilized. The results of the project will be reported in network activities organized by WORK-IN-NET programme as well as in academic conferences and journals and in an open seminar held at TKK for the interested Finnish organizations and academics.

Leadership, Distribution, Change (2009-2010) – JoHaMu
The project has four aims: (1) to identify the core of leadership in distributed, virtual organizations and to develop theory of virtual management; (2) to study dynamics of virtual organizations and group processes in their teams as well as formation and change of networks; (3) to study interaction in virtual network in order to identify power relationships and their dynamics, and (4) to study, how well companies having implemented means of virtual interaction have succeeded in developing experiences of presence. Based on research findings, new practices and tools will be developed. The study is a joint project with and Turku School of Economics and University of Turku.

Mobile Financial Services (2009-2010) – MoFS
MoFS aims at changing the use habit of financial services to mobile environment. The goal is to promote change towards a “wallet” in mobile phone that replaces or complements the traditional wallets, cash, banking and cards and to enable Single Sign-On authentication. The primary focus is to develop safe and flexible trust enablers and cost-efficient banking and payment tools for existing, new and innovative mobile services and to put these in practice by creating the critical technical and business enablers. This can only be achieved by co-innovation crates ecosystem for mobile financial services. The primary focus is to develop safe and flexible trust enablers and cost-efficient banking and payment tools for existing or new mobile services and put these in practice by creating technical and business enablers. Project is a collaboration project with SoberIT and a part of Flexible Services (TIVIT) programme.

Evaluation Method to Study Mental Workload Factors in Mobile and Multi-Locational Work (2009-2010) – MoMoStressi
Developing well-being in mobile and multi-locational work is a challenge for a company and its work health care system. The aim of this study is to develop a method for professionals in occupational health care for identifying mental workload and risk factors in mobile and multi-locational work. In this study: (1) the epidemiological bases of complexity factors in work are reviewed, (2) a framework to analyse mobile and multi-locational work is developed, (3) data is collected from mobile employees (’heavy travellers’), (4) a method to identify risks in mobile work is developed, (5) the method is tested as a tool of occupational health care personnel, and (6) the distribution process for benefitting the method is defined and main actors are trained. The research project is a collaboration project with the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Turku University of Applied Sciences, and University of Helsinki.

Multilocational Office (2008-2010)
The Multilocational Office -project focuses on the physical, virtual and social prerequisites and premises of multilocational organizations. Technological solutions as well as physical spaces which enhance multilocational work and its management are being developed during the project. In addition the project studies the adoption of mobile and dispersed way of working, and assesses the success of the change as well as the usability of technological solutions. Based on the project, a management model for a ‘multilocational office’ is being created and put into use. This model is based on the dispersed and mobile way of working with the help of information and communication technology and can be utilized in national and international level.

Funding: Tekes TILA-programme and participating organisations.
Read more about MoVi in Finnish (pdf, 8 pages).

VinCo – Innovative Business and Collaboration in Virtual Environments (2008-2009)
This TKK & Stanford research project studies how collaboration and communication in global distributed teams and in fully virtual environments can enhance business and innovation. Here, virtual environments refer to MMORLG -category, that is, 3D-environments, where users can change flexibly their avatars. Dynamics of communication and innovative, value-adding collaboration in fully virtual settings beyond computer game research are yet not studied. First, a pre-study on geographically distributed innovative collaboration is conducted with conventional e-working tools. Simultaneously, methods for studying MMORLGs are developed. In subsequent two multidisciplinary two study rounds the new 3D environments are studied in-depth and in close international collaboration.

Funding: TKK’s MIDE Programme. Project Manager: Anu Sivunen

vmStan – Virtual and Mobile Knowledge Work (2008-2009)
vmStan is a HUT & Stanford collaboration project. The target of the project is to perform world class research as HUT & Stanford collaboration and transfer the results to Finnish industry for productivity and well-being development. Research questions:
1.Identify the job demands of global teamwork
2.Provide methods to support virtual knowledge work
3.Face and overcome the challenges of virtuality and mobility
4.Follow-up the effectiveness, productivity and well-being of the team
Funding: TEKES Liito programme. Project manager: Niina Nurmi, researchers Virpi Ruohomäki and Petra Bosch. Read more

Workplace Resources Management (2007-2009) – ProWork
The goal of the project is to understand what the crucial elements for productive knowledge work are and what kind of requirements it sets for the physical, virtual and social work environment. Based on the findings the second goal is to develop an evaluation and foreseeing method and tool. The tool allows user-organizations to analyze and evaluate social and individual knowledge work processes and to develop physical and virtual workplace resources to support the productive knowledge work, both in the current situation and for future changes. The third goal is to develop service concepts for workplace resource management to support user organization in developing the most efficient workplace solution for productive knowledge. The project has been a collaboration project between Helsinki University of Technology, Stanford University (USA) and NTNU (Norway).
Read more:

NEW GLOBAL (2007-2008)
The study on “Globalisation and New Collaborative Working Environments” is commissioned by the European Commission. Globalisation issues are in the heart of EU policies regarding integration, trade, employment and social affairs and the information society. New collaborative working environments (CWE) driven by strong technological integration and application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can enable companies to exploit global networking opportunities. This study explores how globalisation affects the way companies are operating and investigates how even the very small EU companies can respond to it and extend their business possibilities in a beneficial way by establishing new collaborative working environments. >> Read more

VerMeet (2006-2008)
– The objective of the research project is to analyze the demands and success of virtual and mobile work operations and management methods in geographically distributed organizations. The project will also create new and sustainable management practices, collaboration and development methods to improve virtual and mobile work. Funding: TEKES. Researchers: Niina Kokko, Marko Hakonen, Anu Sivunen and Satu Koivisto.

Collaborative Work Environments Supporting Organizations’ Capabilities – KYKY (2006-2007).
The project studies the use of collaborative work environments in organizations, their challenges and benefits, and to what degree they support competence development in work. The project provides a theoretical model of evolving use: how to overcome resistance in organizations and to successfully implement and use collaboration technologies. Researchers invite all interested parties to participate in the discussion in the collaborative technological environment ( Funding: The Finnish Work Environment Fund. Researchers: Eija Korpelainen (project manager), Meri Jalonen and Tommi Gustafsson.

Researchers invite all interested parties to participate in the discussion in the collaborative technological environment (

Virtual Team Assessment and Development Model – VITAL (2004-2007).
The projects aims at developing a modular toolbox to support forming, performing, maintaining and developing dispersed groups and projects. Funding: TYKES. Researchers: Niina Kokko, Satu Kuokkanen and Marko Hakonen.

Distributed workplace – dWork (2004-2006).
The project will provide (1) a conceptual framework, strategies, and analytic tools, and (2) concrete models, tools and practices that will help corporate real estate (CRE) groups to participate in the design of physical workplaces, ITC networks and connections and the managerial policies that support the corporation’s knowledge work as it distribute activities in their value chain. Funding: Nokia, Nordea and Senate Properties and TEKES. Researchers: HUT: Marko Hakonen, Satu Kuokkanen, Petri Mannonen, Mika P. Nieminen, Jouni Rekola, Virpi Ruohomäki and Anni Vartola. MIT: David Good, Michael Joroff, Chuck Kukla, William Porter and Alexis Sanal.

Mobile work: well-being and design principles (2004-2005)
The projects aims at studying manners to organise work, working practices and their challenges from the leadership viewpoint and the components of well-being in mobile work. Funding: the Ministry of Labour. Reseacher: Ursula Hyrkkänen.
Hyrkkänen, U. & Vartiainen, M. (2005) Mobiili työ ja hyvinvointi, Työpoliittinen tutkimus, nro 293. Helsinki: Työministeriö. 276 s.

Job demands and stress factors in dispersed work (2003-2004)
This project aims at analysing and describing the job demands, stress factors and job characteristics of dispersed, virtual work and their relationship to well-being. Funding: The Finnish Work Environment Fund. Researcher: Niina Kokko.

Challenges of mobile work (2003-2004).
The project’s purpose is to clarify the conceptual bases of virtual, mobile work and to develop a vision for sustainable mobile work systems. Funding: the Ministry of Labour. Researchers: Anssi Balk, Kari Jalonen Johan Lönnblad, and Matti Vartiainen.

Functionality and development of virtual organizations 2002-2003

The functionality of virtual organizations 2001-2002