Our three-part blog series has looked at ‘The three C’s’ office workers told us are most important to them at work. In our final instalment, we explore influence of office design on creating a positive company culture.

Why is company culture important?

Positive workplace culture is proven to drive engagement, improve employee happiness and satisfaction, reduce absence and increase productivity, which ultimately all lead to better business performance.

It’s also demonstrated to help attract and retain talent. Our recent market research confirmed this, with almost 70% of people we spoke with saying they would change jobs for a better company culture. Quite alarmingly, fewer than 6% of people rated their organisation as excellent when it comes to company culture.

The role of the office in creating positive company culture

Creating a thriving company culture is easier said than done, and is influenced by everything from leadership and management, through to policies, people and the workplace environment.

There is no doubt that the pandemic had an impact on the ability for organisations to create, foster and nurture culture due to the vast majority of businesses being forced to work remotely for a significant period of time. In fact, a quarter of those we spoke to in our study said it had a negative impact on their organisation’s culture.

This is because when people are in the office, they can feel the energy of being together and experience a sense of common purpose, which in turn has many benefits. Almost 60% of people we spoke with agreed that it’s difficult to feel part of the company culture when working at home – despite the average worker saying they would prefer to work from home for half of the week. 64% of people also agreed it is hard for employers to build a positive company culture when people are working from home.

Now the dust has settled following a shift in working patterns, business leaders need to understand how their culture has been impacted and consider what improvements to make.

Office design considerations

Enhancing a company culture through your workplace environment is more than a cool office design with bean bag chairs and games zones. You need to define what you are, and what you need as a company, and create an office which reflects this, steering culture in the right direction through clever design choices.

Finding the right office space which works for your people is the crucial first step. Ask yourself:
• Does our current space work for us?
• Is it big enough? Is it too big?
• Are we utilising the space effectively?
• Are we in the right location?
• What do our people need from their working environment? Speak to your team to understand how they need and like to work.

Once you have decided on an appropriate office space, there are a number of ways design can help nurture culture. Firstly when people walk through the door, they should instantly know what your business is about. Simple things like opting for a colour palette which reflects your brand, and making your logo and company values visible will add identity and promote a sense of belonging among employees.

An office which encourages employees to work cross-functionally, by offering an open plan layout, with plenty of varying meeting spaces and group working areas, will help to create a culture where collaboration and teamwork are at the fore. If you’re looking to inspire a creative culture, then a highly flexible and fluid environment with areas to meet informally, spaces for idea generation, and social gatherings should be prominent.

The use of open plan spaces, glass doors and walls, moveable partitions, open shelving, and common areas, such as cafes and atriums, can help to nurture a culture of openness and transparency. Relaxation rooms have also become prevalent in the modern offices to support health and wellbeing, which also promotes a positive company culture. Finally, making considered choices when it comes to lighting, temperature, and furniture can all support comfort, and reinforce that you care about your employees.

Looking for more inspiration and advice on how to rethink your office? Our workplace consultants have decades of experience helping companies across all sectors transform their businesses by creating workplace strategies which work for them. Using insights and knowledge gained through working closely with your team, strategic workshops, interviews and creative sessions, they create inspiring office designs which provide the best possible outcomes for your business and your people.

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