If a picture is worth a thousand words, what would a snapshot of your offices say about your company culture?
Your employer brand is represented in your physical office-space; not only the public areas, but in each individual’s work area. Organization doesn’t always happen naturally, so when you assess your own environment, do you feel like the way things are set up in your workspace are flowing well?
It’s an interesting exercise to assess your EVP with your work environment to see how well they are aligned. Does spending time in your workspaces help to foster the cultural behaviours that employees value about your company?
Open workspaces are often associated with equal status and opportunity for communication between all employees which fosters more informal collaboration. Expansion is easier and re-purposing areas is simpler, than with individual offices. In cases it can also discourage social loafing, by creating transparency.
Closed workspaces, with more individual offices are good to help insulate workers from distraction and interruptions. They provide privacy, and are easier to personalize.
Each employee needs access to different types of space. Space where they can work independently, space for those “water-cooler conversations”, space for learning and space for more formal collaboration – and all these spaces need to be open to everyone, so people can choose where they need to be, according to this 2012 HBR blog post, by Anat Lechner.
It’s important to provide the right type of space to accommodate the different activities your employees need to accomplish in any given day. Consider having areas that are dedicated to different purposes – and each properly equipped for that purpose; the right number of plug-ins or phone spots, for example, and the right access to media and equipment for sharing information – right down to the furniture to fit the purpose.
A bright, clean space with lots of access to natural light, or full-spectrum lighting can help people feel energized and more upbeat. An article in Fast Company points to studies that show round tables are proven to increase team collaboration and cooperative problem solving.
The way you approach the design of your office can also be a significant change management tool. Have any of your employees ever been asked the question “Is this workspace working for you?”
Involving your employees in decisions around workspace design is one way to increase employee buy-in and commitment. It also further demonstrates the employer’s dedication to improving their EVP. Since salary and benefits represents so much more of the bottom line than facilities, John Vogel points out that asking employees for their feedback and showing respect for their efforts, the organization is making a good investment.
Let’s face it; the office is where many of us spend a majority of our waking hours. Any increase in employee comfort can multiply returns in employee productivity and team effectiveness.