Why workplace culture should drive your new office design

Jo Horbury

The power of office design has never been greater. With the influx of millennials into the workplace who place factors such as environment at the forefront of their job decision making, as well as an awakening of business decision makers to the influence that an office space has on employee well-being, retention and performance, having a strategy behind the way your office is designed is key to a business success.

But what should be the basis for your design strategy? The answer and driver is the culture of your organisation.

What is workplace culture?

Workplace culture is influenced by a multitude of characteristics including the interactions, behaviour, attitudes, values, goals and environment of an organisation. It can be seen as being the character or personality of a business and is often defined by a top down vision of who the business is and where it wants to go.

Differences in culture

One of the greatest things about culture is that it is influenced and moulded by the people who work in a company which makes each case unique. Therefore, the critical factor for any new office design is about understanding the culture, objectives and values that make the company unique.

It is about then integrating those elements into the design. If your culture is defined by communication, then the design should facilitate this through break-out areas, huddle pods, high tables for impromptu meetings.

If your culture is based around working with sensitive information and confidential client relationships then having private office spaces and areas that facilitate privacy and trust is key.

In many office spaces however, the distinction of a culture isn’t always so black and white. With growing diversity in the way that people work and interact, something that we have promoted in the past is having areas that facilitate all areas and types of work. So different areas of culture must be looked to for inspiration.

Here are some examples of how culture has inspired others:

Brand Ethos – “Home from Home” – Airbnb

Part of what makes global travel accommodation company Airbnb unique is immersing yourself in a destination by staying in the home of a person who lives there. This home from home ethos that defines the business has been transcended into their office design with rooms and spaces decorated to reflect an Airbnb listing.

Location – “Manchester Inspired Offices” – Rentalcars.com

Rentalcars.com embraced the wider culture of where there offices were based in Manchester, creating spaces inspired by the rich heritage of the city. Particular highlights are a hacienda nightclub themed café area and “Rain Rooms” where employees can go and shelter from the famous Manchester weather.

What makes this project special is that the concepts for each floor of the 63,000 sq ft office were inspired by the ideas of over 100 colleagues.

Why workplace culture should drive your new office design

ld drive office design is because culture is the factor that unites an organisation and having a strong culture that employees feel a part of provides a competitive advantage for a business.

Design’s role in this is to reinforce and enhance the feeling of culture by being a physical representation of that culture. Therefore, it is of the upmost importance not to try and replicate the culture of others, every company is unique it is about finding what makes you different and expressing that in a way that enhances the feeling and productivity of employees.

If you are interested in an office space designed with your culture in mind, speak to one of our experts today.

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