RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN WORKSPACE LAYOUT AND COMPANY CULTURE

Office design and workspace layout have a profound effect on how your employees feel at work and how they perform.

ACTIVE OFFICE, HOW TO 10 Minutes Reading
employees in a conference room with Vari products

You may already know that company culture is important, which is why you might offer perks like free snacks, remote workdays, and even onsite yoga, but you shouldn’t stop there. Office design and workspace layout have a profound effect on how your employees feel at work and how they perform. Workspace layout also impacts those who visit your business, including potential clients and job hires. A study conducted by international design practice Hassell showed that job seekers were more influenced by a company’s culture and workplace facilities than salaries. To ensure you appeal to top talent and prospective clients as well as retain the talent and clients you have, your office environment shouldn’t just reflect the values of the company; it should reinforce those values. Here’s everything you need to know about how tangible elements like workspace layout can embody the intangible elements of your company’s culture and vision.

Weave the Brand Into Your Walls

The dating app Bumble, which is headquartered in Austin, Texas, has been called “incredibly innovative in its office design.” With a workforce that is 85 percent female, the company’s leadership is adamant about spreading the message of female empowerment throughout the office plan layout, ultra-feminine design, and employee perks. Along with its honeycomb-patterned walls strewn with positive messages and a glam room equipped with hair-washing stations for blowouts, physical spaces are designed to accommodate the needs of all their employees, including working mothers. The 4,600 square feet of open-plan work space is complemented with cozy communal areas, glass conference rooms, and a mommy zone (for pumping), showing that the company values self-care and caregiving as much as hard work.

Prioritize Flexibility

In the ongoing debate on whether open-plan layouts are more conducive to productivity than cubicles, consider a 2017 poll by Gallup, which found that “employees who have the ability to move to different areas at work are 1.3 times more likely to be engaged than other employees.” While open-plan layouts are great for companies that value collaboration, not all roles or projects require teamwork. Sometimes, privacy is necessary for productivity, which is why a flexible workspace layout is ideal. To create a flexible workspace layout, give employees a mix of workspaces and the freedom to adapt throughout their workday. From big group tables to small huddle spaces to soundproof booths, the more variety, the better. Keep in mind that everybody works differently, and giving your employees the freedom to choose how they work will empower them to work well.

Bring Nature Inside

A chief component of Amazon’s new headquarters in Seattle is that it was designed to bring the outdoors in with three giant glass domes called “The Spheres,” which are home to 400 species of more than 40,000 plants from more than 30 countries. The philosophy behind the structure was to give employees the option to work inside an operational greenhouse to allow their ideas to flourish. Research shows that bringing nature into the office can have a positive impact on an employee’s mental state by reducing stress levels and improving work performance. Even if you don’t have the means to invest in a workplace rainforest, making the most of natural light and positioning plants around the office can contribute to increased levels of happiness and productivity amongst employees.

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Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and VICE.