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Clan, Hierarchy, or Adhocracy? Understand your culture for the most effective office design

Updated: Apr 25

We’ve come a long way from the functional office cubicles of the 1980s, our offices have become another branding opportunity, representing a company’s values and proposition as a physical space. Understanding your company’s culture is essential so that you can create the most effective office design possible.

Offices with rooftop bars, swimming pools, playground slides, or simply a breath-taking view…our expectations of the workplace have certainly evolved. Your office space is now a clear definition of your company, its attitude and the culture you are looking to create.

By identifying your current culture and deciding if this is how you see the future of your business, you can make the first steps on your office design journey.

How to identify your existing culture:

Scientists at the University of Michigan agree that organisational cultures can be grouped into three main types, each of which operates more effectively within different spaces. These groups are Clan, Adhocracy and Hierarchy:

Clan Culture

Organisations that adopt a clan culture operate with an almost familial level of shared values and ‘togetherness’. Empowering employees and establishing commitment to the company through cross-collaboration and employee involvement programmes, the sense of “we” within this culture is palpable and there for all to see.

Organisations adopting this culture, or wanting to further cultivate these values, should create spaces that resemble the home, generate interactions, and promote teamwork through design and furniture choices.

Hierarchy Culture

Clearly established lines of reporting, with historical departmental responsibilities and a feeling of a ‘well-oiled machine’ indicate an effective Hierarchical Culture. Often adopted by organisations who value efficiency, consistent and predictable output. 

A Hierarchy culture requires efficient spaces that allow employees to focus on tasks and minimise distractions, so deadlines and productivity can be maximised.

Adhocracy Culture

Ever-changing, fast-paced, and looking somewhat turbulent to an outsider. Adhocracy is a relatively new office culture phenomenon, that has come to typify the societal demands of doing business in 2020.

Grounded in a belief that innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship are key factors to deliver business success. The employees within these businesses could be described as the “discerning customers” of the employer.

Creating an office environment that can support inventiveness requires a level of adaptability and imagination. Foregoing the traditional workspaces in favour of more flexible, fun breakout spaces where employees can ‘take a step back’ from their work is a key consideration when looking to stimulate creativity and create an Adhocracy style culture.

Do you recognise your culture in the above? 

Spending the time to identify where you are right now, and where you aspire to be, is a great first step to create the right environment for your company’s future.

As office design specialists, our expertise lies in creating the most effective office design for the unique requirements of your business.

Contact us today and find out how to shape your office culture through design.



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