Workplace Inspiration

The Relationship Between Workplace Design and Culture

Avatar of Autonomous Autonomous | Apr 20, 2021
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What do you see when you walk through the doors of your organization? Does it reflect the company’s culture? Despite what you have heard, the appearance, design, and functionality of your office say a lot about your company. There is a link between workspace design and culture. 

The traditional layout of the office does not cut it anymore. While some organizations still maintain the cubicle setup as it is effective in housing employees, it does not reinforce the culture.

Your company culture needs to come out in all elements of your operational methods. That is why PR is so important, for example. The staff members and the work the company does must reflect the values and norms that the business has established. This also holds for the workplace design.

If your culture is one of open and honest communication, for example, is the office layout conducive to that? How accessible is top management for regular employees? How close are colleagues? Does the equipment present reinforce the kind of efficiency that your mission statement may speak to?  

Workplace design can impact employee engagement, productivity, happiness, and the profitability of the organization. Efficient workplace design begins with well-defined core values and goals before moving on to the aesthetics and physical design components of the space.

As a manager, you must think about how the design and furniture you select for your office can help achieve the company’s goals too based on its values, purpose, and culture. 

You might be wondering why you cannot just buy some random office furniture instead of a modern design office chair and arrange them in the office. The answer to this that the company culture influences workplace design and getting it right is an essential part of ensuring success.

Workspace Design and Spirit

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Depending on the design choices you go with, you are going to be giving your office a spirit, which means you need to combine workspace design and culture. It is one that employees are going to be feeling, but visitors are also going to be able to pick up on it. The question here is, “does your chosen design reflect your culture?”

For example, if your team is supposed to be vibrant and energetic, does the aesthetic that you have created seem inviting and lively? What are the colors present saying? How might the location choices for various elements either conquer or disagree with your norms?

As you are choosing the elements of your office layout, consider the goals and values that the management team has established. Work each one into different areas of the design, and you are going to be surprised at how much your office communicates to all those who pass through it.

Never fall into the trap of thinking that it is only about giving the place a facelift or ensuring that it looks good. Nonverbal communication is incredibly powerful, and this is one of the most potent forms out there. 

You may even want to bring an interior designer into the mix considering how important these choices are to show the relationship between workspace design and culture. Communicate your vision, and watch the said expert give you well-thought-out and informed insights on office design tips for productivity and how to get your workspace to shout your culture from the rooftops.

Workplace Design Recommendations

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Everywhere you look, it is as if there is another top office design trend or home office design trend. They may look incredibly appealing and you may want to try them out in your environment, but you must not be too hasty in doing so. Remember that the originators may not have considered their cultures in the design, and even if they did, their cultures may be wildly different from yours. 

Bear in mind that the narrative here is that workplace design and culture go hand in hand. So, here are a few recommendations that should help you to develop the mindset that you need. The goal here is not just about giving you ideas. It is to show you how you are supposed to be linking your design choices to your culture.

Open Plan Design for Communication

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The closed office style is great for those businesses where more privacy and less free-flowing communication is necessary. High confidentiality operations, such as law and auditing may necessitate this. However, intentionally limiting the flow of communication is going to have a few negative effects.

On the flip side, an organization may indicate that a strong chain of communication is a part of the supportive organizational culture. If so, you must have a layout that allows employees to access each other more readily. An open-plan layout with cubicles encourages more frequent and better conversation as the person someone may wish to speak to is almost always in the line of sight.

Prioritizing Employee Welfare

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In some organizations, it is said that the culture creates satisfied clients through motivated employees and there is a strong connection between its workspace design and culture. The management team may further go on to say that the company caters to the holistic health and well-being of its employees.

Equipment with ergonomic functionality is one of the best ways to display this. Any office with standing desks and ergonomic office chairs, for example, reinforces this principle.

Sharing and Team Orientation

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Is your culture one that is conducive to and encourages the effectiveness of teams? If so, then your design plan should foster the interaction and sharing norms that come with being in a team. 

Depending on the layout you choose, employees may be forced or encouraged to sit and operate from a single space throughout the day. However, you could design the office to encourage the use of the entire space and greater collaboration.

One simple way to achieve this would be to evenly distribute the various tools that the team members need. That way, they are incentivized to take advantage of the “we” space, which improves the camaraderie flow.

The Learning Organization

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The learning organization is one that continuously adapts and takes ideas from its employees. Such a place must encourage employees innovation in all forms. You can look at companies, such as Google, which operates on a culture of consistent research and development. As you would expect, a lot of thinking goes into this process.

Therefore, the company has established recreation rooms that are intended to help its employees unwind and think more clearly. 

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