It’s no surprise that office culture and environments are increasingly important to company leaders. In an era of discerning, fast-moving millennials, talent retention and employee satisfaction are now priorities more than ever, and the rather un-humanistic approach of a cubicle factory from years ago no longer cuts it. But how exactly do forward-thinking spaces enhance the work you do?
We are in the confines of a spatial experience on a daily basis and our emotions are actively connected to the environment we are in. If you take a few moments and analyze the space you inhabit right now, how does it make you feel? Do you feel comfortable and calm – or are you agitated and would rather escape?
Well-balanced spaces that are adaptive and support a wide range of activities prove to foster higher productivity while creating enjoyable work environments. A space must be created to promote a healthy environment through proper use of sunlight and sound control, and be accommodating to the various personalities we work with.
Another major component is understanding how the company culture functions on a daily basis. For example, applications that may work great in a tech startup have a good chance of failing to provide the same results in a law office. Taking time to analyze the core values of office culture will yield greater results in the long run, and forward-thinking companies are determined to curate the best layouts or simulated environments by prototyping and studying interactions with given applications.
Back in February, I had the pleasure of traveling to Steelcase in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The global office manufacturer decided to take drastic steps to revitalize the usage of their expansive office buildings. They began by creating small prototypes and asking groups of people to try working anywhere within an open space that offered multiple variations of seating arrangements. They used their own furniture and supported brands, which were placed so that they would foster a space for taking phone calls, conduct meetings, exercise, or to just rest in.
The concept of having flexible workspaces was brand new to the thought process at Steelcase, but it grabbed the attention of workers that were bound to their desks. Change towards a mobile work environment had slowly begun in the 3,000-plus employee office. Various divisions got private offices due to the work that was being performed, and each location had bold color schemes allocated to it. By experiencing different sections of the building – each with different configurations of work environments – it also showcased how beautiful Steelcase furniture can be in a space. By conducting studies through their own employees’ interactions with the products, it captured the extent of research the furniture goes through. The spaces are ever evolving as feedback continues to be gained from research conducted by an internal team of specialists.
As our world keeps evolving with new usage of technology and the spotlight is given to employee satisfaction, it is essential to design environments that inspire people to work, relax, and play. Daily interactions must be leveraged by spatial surroundings and there are no limits to what the surroundings may be, as long it fosters positivity for the office culture at large. Innovative company leaders are aware that a great work environment will attract talent and retain it. Being forward thinking and providing great spaces to work in should not be a perk for a few, but rather a standard in everyone’s workplace.
Photo: Modern Architectural Details by Phil Manker