We have a challenge that we’d like to issue to you. The next time you step into your office, take a minute to really look around. What characteristics mark your space? How does this space make you feel? And, as importantly, how does it make you feel you should behave? What functions and activities does the space feel like it was designed for?
Next, think about your business and what you hope it portrays to your customer, but also to your staff. Does this line up with the feelings you felt when looking at your space?
Whether we like it or not, physical space and your workplace design can shape a company’s culture — or it can completely betray it. As humans, we are incredibly susceptible to our environment, and we will often subconsciously adjust a number of our habits in order to feel like we are adapting to our surroundings.
Having a distinct corporate culture can help organizations and businesses produce amazing results and have incredibly satisfied employees. The companies that are really nailing this concept (think Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, Amazon, and more) have managed to align and integrate their culture and their brand — right down to their physical space.
But how? Where do you start in designing your space to best match your business culture?
First and foremost, take some time to really think about who you are designing the space for. Is it your customers? Your employees? How do they work? How does your staff interact with each other — and their surroundings? When clients visit your property, what do you want them to feel?
Start with the basics.
One of the most fundamental pieces of design in nearly any commercial space is the shared table. Nearly all organizations center around work and productivity, and the emphasis should be placed on your team as a whole. And if your team is where your organization’s knowledge and strategy are created, the team’s physical space is where their knowledge comes from.
Think outside the box for collaboration. Mall all spaces writable (think table tops, walls, and more) and emphasize creative team inspiration. Your physical space should serve as an extension of where your team draws inspiration from.
Remember to provide quiet space.
Always remember that many members of your team will nee quiet spaces to reflect and recharge their batteries (both literally and figuratively). While open space provides the opportunity for teamwork and collaboration to thrive, it can also create too much noise and clutter for effective individual work. When your employees need some space to really focus, make sure they have ample private spaces to retreat, recharge, and work.
Don’t stress if you don’t get it right the first time.
Workspace design is, fortunately, not a “one and done” phenomenon. As with most things, it takes time to help shape expectations and behaviors. Try slowing introducing change to your commercial space, such as moveable furniture and flexible seating arrangements, and see how your team responds. Or, better yet, enlist your team to help build the space themselves. This will help set the proper tone from the very beginning and make your employees feel more invested in the process — a great start to adoption.