The last few articles I have written have all focused exclusively on the factors which influence culture. This is critically important for any business to understand; whether you are an entrepreneur starting to expand; or a multidimensional business battling to get everyone pulling in the same direction. Culture is what keeps your business on track. This is not at the cost of strategy or marketing execution and good sales service; but rather at the behest of it!
One of the big factors that affects culture; and is often neglected is place that your employees spend the better part of their day in. The office. The physical space that represents your brand – not to your customers; but to the far more important stakeholder – your employees!
This is far more than just ergonomics; asking if your employees can sit comfortably at their desks without smashing their backs every day. This is more than the kind of coffee you stock or that you use 2% milk and not full cream. This is about how your employees interact with each other. This is about how the physical space they inhabit for upwards of 8 hours a day makes them feel about you and the brand that they are supposed to be evangelizing every minute of every day!
Chose to look at your physical space as an investment; and not just an expense on your balance sheet. When you choose to embrace this investment; there is a lot that your physical space can do for you!
Demonstrate your core company values
Your physical space can show the values that are central to your company. Demonstrating your company values through your physical space is not about expensive makeovers and gadgets; but rather about bringing your values to life. Every organisation has a piece of paper where the values have been written down and signed off. But no one can live a piece of paper – make them come alive for your employees and help them to live them every day.
Understand what your employees want
It is generally understood that employees relate their work environments to how much their companies valued them or not.
While you may not be in a position to readily install a gym, life sized dinosaur (see Google) and cocktail bar in your office, there are small but significant changes you can make to the physical space which can really make a difference.
Small things such as a place to gather for lunch; or pause areas where employees can have private conversations while having a coffee break are very important. What’s more; these are not huge investments that need to be made to start reaping the benefits.
Physical space and the generation minefield
Office space has changed a lot over the years and depending on the average generation of your employees; you need to be mindful that you are not pushing your staff too far outside of their generational comfort zone! While millennials may be thrilled with tech zones; slides; gadget rooms; and other quirks; the generation X employees will be wondering at this point if they are at a company on which they can build a career or if they are stuck in their kids after-care facility!
If you build it (right) they will come
Office space not only influences how people feel about working for you; it also influences how they work! If you are trying to build a culture of collaboration – make sure that your office space makes it easy for your staff to collaborate. High walls and closed office doors do not a collaborative culture make!
Think about your business model and what the purpose of your organisation is. Ensure that your physical space is inline with what you are trying to achieve as this alignment will go a long way to aligning your corporate culture!