How to design a workspace that reflects your business culture
Google's eclectic London headquarters has a Padded Cell meeting room, a Flower Power boardroom, and a Hobbit Hole staff hangout. At Unilever's brand-themed Schaffhausen office, no one is allocated a seat to encourage 'agile working.'
These are just two examples of how major players are playing it differently to create a vibrant office culture. Gone are the days where you simply filled a space with cubicles and told everyone to get working. Astute thinkers now know that inventiveness is invaluable and quirkiness quintessential to a hearty business culture. Here are some tips to get your office on the road to successful self expression.
Kick cubicles to the curb
Nothing cuts the flow of creativity and communication like cubicles. Yes, they're a great idea in toilets, but for the good of your culture and general office buzz, keep your space as open, airy and inviting as you can. You may have noticed that in cubicle-heavy, closed in office areas, voices tend to be muted, conversations guarded. That's hardly an atmosphere to get your staff jumping out of bed in the morning. Nor is it a productive one. So unshackle your office, knock down the walls, rip out the doors and let your space breathe new life.
Let your space speak
Your office space is the canvass for your new culture, so if you have to work with an existing area, isolate its best or most interesting features – natural light, exposed bricks and pipes, unusual windows, rustic floorboards – and build your new look around them. If you have the luxury of finding new premises, seek out spaces with architectural intrigue – high ceilings, oversized windows, industrial finishing, and eccentric layouts. Create a theme for your workspace design.
It might be something general – post-modern or retro – or something specific like Australiana, South Pacific, or even brand-themed to reflect your market image as a company. Anything that enriches the work experience and inspires staff to greater heights will ultimately do the trick.
Create spaces for cases
Much like Google's themed areas, create niches to accommodate different types of work, be it individual or group. A quiet area with desks will facilitate fast writing to a deadline. A cushion and couch-laden lounge will give brainstorming the relaxed atmosphere boardrooms simply can't. And a welcoming, fun-themed cafe and social area will give staff a far nicer internal haven than any barren canteen.
Make your workplace work
The bottom line with any workplace revamp is to make it somewhere your staff want to work. It has to be fun, it has to be welcoming, but it also has to be work-friendly. Involve all workers in the process. Ask them what they want. Ask them what they like about your company culture and brand. Ask them what your company stands for.
Take their ideas and try to incorporate them in your design. Once everything is in place, encourage staff to add their own personality to their work areas with photos, plants and anything weird or wonderful that defines them. Let them express themselves within your newfound expression as a company. They'll be happy. You'll be happy. And chances are your great new culture will attract new talent just like them.
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