Office culture is integral to business. It sets behavioural norms, drives office values and enhances the corporate brand. More than that, it defines how effectively teams interact. From Silicon Valley giants to start-ups all over the globe, businesses owners are beginning to see the value of using space planning and office design to build dynamic work cultures.
It may not seem obvious how an environment can define a culture. We tend to think of good leadership, consistent branding and well-managed processes as the central processes. And yet, your work environment plays a central role in all these contexts. In this article we explore how you can use office design to develop a culture that works for you.
These days, modern companies are looking at ways to design for innovation. Google recently incorporated office design which encourages ‘active collision’. This means that individuals who wouldn’t usually talk to one another, will meet and collaborate.
Cross-departmental knowledge can provide immediate advantages. Bringing people of different department together is a great way to encourage innovation. It also gives employees a greater context to the company’s overall division. For example, an IT technician may be able to develop a resource for the marketing department that cuts manual admin work in half. Similarly, a marketer who spends time with the sales department can help to create seamless prospecting strategies.
Integrating flexibility into your design with hot desks and laptop ports can also have a profound effect. By being able to sit down and plug in anywhere in the office, individuals have the opportunity to work near the people or the technology they need to get the job done.
Potable chairs, tables and flexible environments allow teams to break away and work together with ease. This means that they needn’t wait for formal pre-scheduled meetings before taking productive steps forward. Nor will they waste time moving between locations. With flexible design, employees have the freedom to move between open plan spaces and quite zones depending on their work demands and preferences.
When getting the most from your employees, understanding how team dynamics work can make a huge difference. Office layout and space planning will define how teams communicate. An open plan office allows individuals to share ideas throughout the day. This is great if you are trying to develop a collaborative, creative culture, opening up channels of communication and letting conversation flow freely.
However, if you are trying to keep the noise level down and develop a more formal culture, you may want to think about breaking the room up into smaller teams. This can be done with the clever positioning of work stations, or by implementing screens and booths into the design.
Your brand is more than just your logo. It’s the way your company is perceived in the marketplace, the media and in the work environment itself. Take a second to imagine if you were a potential new employee or client entering your building for the first time. What does your work environment say about the brand and culture you are trying to create? Is it consistent with the way you want your business to be perceived?
Here, brand consistency is key. Think about the colour palettes, fonts and assets that you use in your marketing, and try to think how these can be incorporated into the overall office design. If your company is known for innovation, you may want to incorporate hi-spec technology, glass, metal and neutral colour schemes into your design. If you are trying to build a social brand personality try something more funky and offbeat. Ask yourself, if your brand was a person, how would they design the office?
The use of unusual, stylish and evocative design can send a real buzz around the office. This has obvious benefits. Motivated employees are more likely to feel pepped when they arrive at work and will tackle projects with positivity, zeal and efficiency. This can create real positive cycle which is reinforced by each individual on a daily basis.
If you are looking to attract millennial talent, modern designs, chill out zones, ergonomic furniture and unusual installations can make a real impression. Interesting designs are a talking point for all businesses, giving visitors confidence that your business is forward thinking and cares about more than just business-as-usual.
However you decide to design your office, try to understand the effect that this will have on the current culture and think about how you can plan effective dynamics across all departments.
For some friendly advice, why not contact UK Workspace on 0844 463 0901.