Office redesigns: Why company culture is so important

By 11th April 2018 July 20th, 2020 Company Culture, Interior Design
Office redesigns: Why company culture is so important

In a recent article, The Balance wrote about how company culture impacts the workplace. Here’s our take on it and how the office design you choose can help.

Your company culture is an important part of your business today. While in the past people generally just searched for a job, in our changing world of remote working and collaborative spaces, people are now just as interested in the company’s culture as they are in the job itself.

Potential employees are now looking for companies that fit them. Interviews are no longer one sided and with the internet filled with reviews, it’s easy to lose a good potential (and current) employee because of poor company culture.

I recently came across an article by The Balance, a business site, which talks to the importance of company culture and how it impacts the workplace. Here’s what we thought of their insights and how office design can help you bring your company culture to life.


What is company culture and where does design fit in?

The Balance defines company culture as, “The personality of a company. It defines the environment in which employees work. Company culture includes a variety of elements, including work environment, company mission, value, ethics, expectations, and goals.”

From a design perspective, every office design stems from the company culture, which should dictate how the office needs to work. If your company culture has a hierarchical structure, we’d look at including offices in the space. While a more collaborative structure would be an open plan design.

Designing with your culture in mind ensures that the environment helps support your culture. If you have a culture of open communication, for example, you need to design the space so that the employees can live that culture.


Why does design matter so much?

Simply put, every element of your business needs to live and breathe your company culture, from the employees to the space they work in.

Promising an open communication culture but putting managers in offices where they can close doors breeds resentment and makes employees disengage. They are told that the company allows it but the design allows managers to contradict this culture, and according to Work Design Magazine, in the US alone, $450 billion is lost every year because of employee disengagement.  

When we look at a new space, we always do our space planning with the culture in mind. We’ll ask our clients what their culture is, and when they want a design that contradicts their culture, we always question their reasons and advise them to design with their culture in mind.

Wondering if your workspace is right for you? Take our quiz and find out.


How does your culture look from the outside?

Remember, your office is a reflection of who your company is. If someone is thinking of taking a position at your company, or even hiring your company, they’ll most likely do some research first, they might even drive past your office to see what it looks like.

In their article, The Balance talks about how people can learn about a company’s culture and they list these five key touchpoints:

  1. Looking at the company’s website
  2. Doing online research and reading reviews
  3. Asking people who have worked there (utilise websites like LinkedIn and connect with people)
  4. Ask about the culture in the interview
  5. Shadow someone in the business

All of these touchpoints can also be influenced by office design.

  1. Take the Afrihost website for example, on their careers page of their website they have images of the office space. This immediately gives people an idea of the culture of the company, and the design of the offices matches the culture they express on their website.
  2. Company culture is always mentioned in online reviews, they may not use the words “company culture” but the message is clear, and we all know that an unhappy employee will always mention how he never got to sit next to a window.
  3. The same as point three in the list from The Balance above, if you openly ask someone about the culture of a company you would probably find that the way the office is designed always comes up.
  4. Points four and five have the same outcome from a design perspective and it’s where design is most important. As soon as someone walks into your office they can feel the culture of the business. If they are in a reception area that is all white and professional, they will immediately feel like the company culture is professional (no takkies in the office for them). This may not be the case though, which is why your design needs to reflect your culture.

At the end of the day, your company culture should dictate the design you choose for your office. And if you find that you’re having difficulty with the productivity or retention of your staff, take a look at your office design and think about whether your design really reflects who you are as a business.

Read the full article from The Balance here: Understanding Company Culture

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Derek Stedman

Author Derek Stedman

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