The Changing Workplace
Over the last 18 months, the workspace has been subject to an unprecedented amount of change. As companies over the world were forced into a rapid transition to remote working, very few imagined that over a year later we would be in much the same situation. Relying primarily on human interaction, culture was one of the most affected elements.
At first, a sense of togetherness as teams faced these huge challenges together brought them ever closer. Over the weeks and months that have followed, however, continued isolation and changes in teams over time have led to a loss of that unity.
Often defined as “the way we do things around here”, when “round here” is actually hundreds of different locations, culture can become ever-more disjointed and meaningless. As teams dispersed and became isolated, communication became far more formal and structured, leading to a gradual erosion of social capital. Unable to connect with colleagues in a face-to-face environment, staff have started to feel disconnected not only from their colleagues but also from their company.
Now, as companies look beyond the immediate return to the office and consider the role of the workplace months and years ahead, it is clear that culture has a crucial role to play. The future workplace needs to be a destination for a world of hybrid working and virtual communication. An agile workspace with less desking and more focus on tech-enabled spaces for collaboration, teamwork, meetings, training, and events.
In this environment, culture will be essential to rebuilding all that was lost over the pandemic, while retaining some of the benefits – an increased awareness of wellbeing, benefits of privacy, and better work-life balance to name a few. If you don’t take conscious steps to ensure your company culture is aligned with your company values and purpose, it will develop on its own- and not necessarily the way you anticipate or want. Making a conscious effort to design for and shape a positive workplace culture will be essential in creating a successful company.
Benefits of Great Culture
Your culture shapes the way your employees react and think subconsciously to any situation, and therefore influences your brand – the way your customers and prospects think about you. When viewed in this light, it is not hard to see the benefits that positive company culture can have on your productivity and profitability.
In a remote environment, staff become very focussed on their individual responsibilities and roles, often carrying these out more successfully than they did pre-pandemic. However, successful individuals do not lead to a successful organisation. A collaborative environment, where colleagues share and help each other with problems in an instinctive way produces a far better output for the company as a whole.
A bad company culture could quite literally be costing you money - disengaged employees cost the UK economy £340bn every year! If your office design is not promoting a positive culture, you are undermining your efforts to motivate your workforce. But not only could poor culture be costing you serious amounts of money, but it’s also an even bigger opportunity missed. Unhappy workers are 22% less productive than happy workers. That means that poor work culture could be the difference between success and failure- it’s that simple
A user-centred workspace that prioritises wellbeing can have a dramatic positive effect on the happiness and performance of your people. Through human-centric design, you can create a culture that aligns with your values, driving your company toward your vision.
How to shape culture in your office
While culture is universally regarded as important, it is almost as commonly accepted as a fluffy, intangible concept that is very difficult to define, let alone measure or improve. However, through thinking about your values and purpose as a company and seeking honest and open feedback from staff and clients alike, you can gain an accurate picture of not only where you want to be, but where you currently are. From here, you can make informed and intelligent decisions to improve your company culture and all the positive results this creates.
Having been apart for so long, your teams are likely to crave social contact and in-person collaboration. Your space, therefore, needs to allow for this by creating a variety of collaborative environments, from small person meeting pods to stand up brainstorming areas. Spaces that bring your people together will not only repair diluted social capital but allow your staff to problem-solve and innovate in a far more natural and effective way.
The design style and colour scheme of your office play arguably the greatest role in driving your culture through workspace. When your people are surrounded by an aesthetic embodiment of what your company is, they are tuned into the right mindset. The space planning of your office can also have a massive impact on your company culture- both positive and negative. Does your brand feel clean & elegant? warm & cosy? somewhere in between? If your office is a spatial embodiment of your culture, it will be reflected and enhanced in the way your people work.
Culture in Your Future Workplace
The present situation offers business leaders an unparalleled opportunity to assess their culture, define what it should be, and understand how to close that gap. As staff gradually come back to the physical workspace, you have a chance to shape your workspace and your ways of working accordingly to begin to mould your culture as you’d like it to be.
Hybrid working is now becoming accepted as the new sustainable way of working for companies across the globe. Combining working from home with working from the office, ensuring employee needs are balanced with the goals of the company and ensuring the company culture and vision, staff productivity and staff wellbeing are all maintained in an effective way.
What hybrid working will mean for every company will be different, and for forward-thinking organisations, how this looks for every team will also be unique based on their individual role, their needs and how they can operate most productively whilst maintaining a work vs life balance. The most successful workspaces of the future will be culture-led destinations that your people will remember for how they felt while in that space. The togetherness that comes from working as a team, the empowerment they feel as they choose how and where they work.
Creating a great company culture is not a project, it’s a process. It’s never complete, it’s constantly both reflecting and guiding the behaviour of your people every moment of their working lives. While leaders have a significant impact on culture, the real “way we do things around here” atmosphere is created by everyone, and that’s why it’s so important to proactively guide culture through environmental decisions.
Effective workspace design enables you to create a workspace that supports your business objectives in a much more collaborative and flexible way. As the number one controlling factor of performance, our environment has an integral part to play in your company culture. We can help you uncover what your real future workspace needs are, and create an environment that maximises the performance of your people and your organisation.