Celebrate your office culture

14/12/2015

HOW TO CREATE YOUR IDEAL WORKSPACE - PART II

Creative? Traditional? What's your office culture and why does it matter so much?

Now that you've determined the goals and reasons for redesigning your office space, the next step is to make sure that the space you work in is aligned with the culture of your business. And it's not just about matching the colour of your walls with the colour of your company logo. It's about defining and communicating the personality of your business, projecting the vibe and ensuring your staff feel supported, happy and inspired to go the extra mile for the business.

And culture is perhaps one of the most important areas that businesses are scrutinising today. Happy employees mean more productive employees. And when a business is more productive, it means it's working better which in turn means it can get a leg up on the competition. Culture is also a recruiting tool, you'll attract talent because people will want to work for you. So it's worth the investment for companies to build and nourish their culture.

"CULTURE EATS STRATEGY FOR BREAKFAST"

This quote is supposed to originate from the legendary management thinker, Peter Drucker, but that's never been confirmed. Either way, it implies that the people within an organisation and their ideas have more impact on success than the plans and strategies management imposes.

Great office design should mirror your core values and culture and it should also reflect the nature of your business. The workplace's role is to bring people together with innovative tools, spaces and resources that they can't find working in a cubicle, at home or out of a coffee shop. 

 A warm and welcoming environment is all very well, but there should also be a synergy between the office design and the purpose and function of your business.

Redesigning office space is now part of the strategy of building a great culture. Fortune's "25 coolest offices of the 100 Best Companies" shows how most of these great places to work are actually great places to work. Flexibility, entertainment, and bright colourful offices make these companies fun places to work. But not all companies share Google's culture with the slides and Twitter's games room. So how do you ensure that your workplace fits your culture?  

The first step will be to look at the type of people who work for you, their personalities and the way they carry out their work.  There are many opinions about what are the different company cultures, but we believe it comes down to these four:

Culture of Collaboration - an open, friendly place to work. Leaders are mentors and everyone is part of the team. Teamwork, participation and consensus are key. The office space should be more open plan, positioning furniture at an angle encourages movement and collaboration. Gone are the days of secluded cubicles and separate areas for each individual worker. An open-plan office allows everyone to be in a space together for a more connected office feel. The walls of cubicles are coming down and opening up a variety of office spaces for more collaboration and to suit different work functions and styles. By creating and providing areas where people can come together to brainstorm, solve problems and connect with each other you will ensure that you increase familiarity, improve team morale and interpersonal relationships and ultimately productivity and performance. Having an open floor plan will also make the office space seem bigger and more spacious. Read more about collaborative spaces here...

Culture of Creativity - a dynamic, entrepreneurial and creative place to work. A commitment to experimenting and thinking differently are the values that unify the organisation. Innovation, risk-taking and growth are key factors. The office should be individually designed for their unique business - a one size fits all approach doesn't really work.  They want something that exhibits their business' personality and creativity to anyone who walks into their office.

Sometimes nature can be the best ingredient for sparking creativity. Office gardens, terraces, rooftop gardens or plazas can help workers get a breath of fresh air without having to leave the office.  Failing that bringing the outdoors in with plants and natural light to create an indoor garden can provide a fresh view to inspire and motivate them.

Whiteboards and chalkboards throughout the office help get creative juices flowing. By carefully positioning these around the workspace keeps the office fun and open to new ideas and concepts. Other ideas include beanbags, games and other entertainment for workers to use during breaks. But it's important not to get too carried away and end up with something that not only costs you a fortune, but also results in a completely impractical working space, that works against you and your business. 

Modern furniture will also brighten up office space and create a clean, fresh look. And providing access to the vast array of technology may also drive creativity whether it's tablets or interactive virtual meetings, technology has to be incorporated into today's creative process.

Culture of Competition - a results-driven business focussed on winning. People are competitive, goal-oriented and productive. Reputation and success are driving factors in this culture. Investment in the tools particularly technology to allow and more importantly encourage workers to do their jobs is a no brainer and by giving staff the ability to work anywhere with a whole suite of online and mobile technologies will give the business a competitive advantage.

Organizing employees around job function or in specific departments sounds basic, but by positioning colleagues that share the same goal or client together will allow them to generate business and solutions to problems quicker, but also they will be directly accountable to the people around them which means they will be more likely to stay on task and therefore more productive.

Culture of Tradition - a highly structured formal place to work. Rules and procedures govern behaviour and leaders strive to be efficient and good organizers. Stability, performance and efficiency are the long-term goals. However, a culture of tradition doesn't just mean the traditional three places to work - desk, office, meeting room. Read more...More and more traditional companies such as Deloitte are offering their staff the choice of working in a variety of landscapes (18 different landscapes to be precise). From digitally enhanced brainstorming rooms, to breakout spaces, informal lounges and meeting booths, there are plenty of options.

Wood and wood-effect surfaces have long been used in offices to give an air of professionalism. Darker woods, such as walnut, can represent importance and is often used for executive offices.

On a final note - all business, whether large or small, should ensure that their office design is true to their business' ambitions. Engage with your design team and let them create a space that reflects and celebrates your organisation's culture. 

At Cashman Interiors, we agree that the physical workplace can be a powerful environment in which people can thrive. A workplace designed with employee wellbeing and organizational culture in mind can be a source of pride as well as a source of inspiration to achieve the business's goals. It can be a place that makes people feel good about being part of the business; a place that they want to show off, a place that is a visual representation of what their company stands for. So if you are planning to make an investment in a facility, make sure it's designed with an understanding of what really matters to the people who work there. 

So if you are planning to align your physical workplace with your culture, challenge the specialists in office refurbishments and fit outs to translate your ideas into a workspace to be proud of.

 

Look out for our next article on Colour - the effect it has on your business and how it can impact your employees. We'll discuss how it is possible to influence how they think or feel on a subconscious level, just by using the right colours in your design.... 


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