Feng Shui & Fuzzy Feelings: Creating Company Culture Through Office Design

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Creating company culture in the workplace isn’t just about slapping walls with company logos and setting up beanbag chairs in meeting rooms.

Creating company culture in the workplace isn't just about adorning your walls with the company logo or painting everything in the same brand colors. It's about creating a unique yet unified environment that will reflect your company and its team. It should be a place where people feel supported and inspired; a place where your employees, clients and visitors will feel welcomed and engaged.

Many companies will focus on altering the physical features of the office without keeping in mind the brand values and culture of the company. When designers correctly interpret these two key elements, you can truly gauge the benefits of a brilliant office interior design. It is vital to listen to the staff before implementing changes to your workplace. While slides and bean bags may sound exciting to have, some people find them gimmicky, distracting, and they might not fit in with your company spirit and the image you're trying to get across.

Related Article: Why Company Culture Matters More to Employee Than Pay

Where do you start when designing your workplace? Firstly, the key to picking a design, the right design -- is to take some time to understand who you're designing for. Who are your workers? How do they work? How do they interact with each other and their surroundings? What is your corporate identity and how can it be portrayed through office interior design? When staff, clients or visitors visit your property, they need to feel that they have arrived at your company and not just another office with fancy furniture. Do you have a statement piece that will leave your company brand ingrained in their memory after they leave?

Take some time to consider the current principles of your company. It is a good idea to hire a workplace environmental psychologist to carry out an audit for you. These behavioural experts will be able study individual personalities through the way they approach their work, their surroundings, and take the appropriate direction towards planning a design based on your company values.

Generally, the process of redesigning an office or relocating to a new one will give you the opportunity to work with professionals to gain insight into your team, layout design and everything in between; allowing you to make informed decisions on the direction of your fit-out and the culture that you want your office design to communicate. Organizational culture is usually built slowly, so you may find that even with the right office interior design; your employees will still need some time to live it before the company beliefs becomes truly defined.

In a bigger organization the reality is that, you will find employees who have completely different working styles. This may be because of different working hours, office location or different management. These workers will fall under their own generations and personality groups, which means you're more than likely going to end up with multiple cultures and this will impact the way in which your office will be designed. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. In this situation where diversity is the driving factor, it is important for leaders to focus on a singular goal for the company in order to unify the various cultures in different departments and teams.

Related Article: What Preschoolers Can Teach Us About Company Culture

There are many ways to design an office based on your company culture and it all depends on your workforce and which direction you want the company to go. Here are a few ideas that will help you design for specific culture groups.

The Productive Culture

(Source: turnstone)

  • When building a workplace culture, technology is key to cultivating productivity. Your employees will benefit from tools that will allow them to communicate and work more efficiently. Implement docking stations, touchscreens and charging poles so your team is always able to connect to their platforms from anywhere in the office.
  • Create an agile office so that your staff can work on the go instead of being glued to a PC on their desk. Different activities require different working environments where employees can access various equipment that will help them complete their tasks.

The Creative Culture

(Source: turnstone)

  • Creativity and innovation often go hand in hand with collaboration. Therefore, facilitating brainstorming is an important element in building a creative culture. Provide your team with magnetic whiteboards and glass partitions in an inventive meeting area that will stimulate creative juices.
  • Don't forget the acoustics! It's important to have an area where your team can easily come together to share ideas, but it shouldn't get in the way of other teams who may need to work away from the noise of a buzzy brainstorming session. High back sofas, movable partitions or haven booths are a great way to keep the noise to a minimum in an open plan office design.
  • Create a sense of the great outdoors inside! It's no secret that being boxed away inside four walls all day can make you feel tired and downright uninspired. Provide large windows and use materials, textures and garden items to keep your team in touch with nature.

The Work is Play Culture

(Source: turnstone)

  • For the younger generation where work is often seen as an anywhere, anytime activity; building an office that caters to this philosophy will help to increase productivity. Create a fun breakout space that is unique to the rest of the workplace. A completely different zone will help your employees to truly 'break away' from their work. 
  • Encourage staff morale and activity by implementing fun office features, such as a pool table, table tennis or you can even go as far as installing a small gym room that employees can utilise during lunch breaks or before work. This will help to maintain staff wellbeing and make them feel valued by the company.
  • Allow your employees to make decisions and voice their ideas. This will not only make your staff feel valued, but push them into being more productive by allowing them to feel empowered to make decisions on their work.

Remember, there is no such thing as 'one size fits all' and depending on the space you have to work with, you can always design multiple areas that will cater to the different groups while still following a singular business goal. When done correctly, this can promote a culture that accentuates your company's character by showcasing its values and personality.

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