This guest post is courtesy of Kevin Kuske
A company’s rich culture can often be hidden in a sad workspace. Sure, you may have a casual dress code and a spirited softball team, but no one will think much of it if you’re surrounded by plain, white walls on a daily basis. With the ongoing debate around remote workers, it’s important to understand the role of the workspace and how you can leverage it to enhance your company’s culture and create a space where workers want to be.
A great workspace is more than a desk and a chair – it encompasses a number of elements that make workers feel comfortable, inspired and productive and serves as a representation of the company’s values and ideals. It gives the first impression to potential employees or business partners.
Of course, great space is subjective, but turnstone has studied a number of high-performing small businesses that boast highly productive, well-functioning workspaces around the country and discovered common elements that help a company tell its story through their workspaces. Use these tips to tell yours and create a thriving culture in your space:
Find a Space that Enables Culture
Spaces with personality: Seek out places that are architecturally interesting –with high ceilings, raw floors, exposed bricks, natural light – or those with an element of surprise.
Open floor plans: Nothing is worse than filling a beautiful, open space with cubicles. Encourage the flow of communication and collaboration by maintaining an open space and enabling buzz. If voices are quiet and guarded, you’re not doing it right.
A palate of places and postures: Different types of work are done best in different settings. Be sure your space offers areas for both “me-work” and “we-work” – workers need a mix of desk, private, lounge and hospitality spaces.
What Do You Stand For? In order to create an authentic space that represents your company and employees, you need to identify your position on various workplace issues and decide what you want your space to say about your business.
Ask your employees about their favorite part of your company culture and play it up in your space. People enjoy the lounge spaces for collaborative work and taking breaks? Make sure the areas have plenty of power sources for laptops and devices (a few pillows wouldn’t hurt, either). Everyone loves the bring-your-dog-to-work policy? Create an area with toys and treats for your employees’ furry friends.
By embracing the characteristics of your company that your workers love, it will not only keep them happy and productive but also help attract more people like them. In fact, research has shown great company culture and workspaces can help recruit top talent.
Free your employees to be themselves. The best and simplest way to capture the personality and culture of your company is to allow your employees to be themselves. Encourage your workers to personalize the space by bringing pets, pictures and crazy iconic objects to work. Giving employees the freedom to be themselves sends the message that you recognize people create and share in different ways.
Add Elements of Fun, Color and Nature. All work and no play can have a negative effect on employees’ creativity and productivity. In fact, study after study shows that fun is meaningful and plays an important role in trust and creativity. Incorporate elements of fun in your office that show your team that fun has a place at work. It does not matter whether it’s ping pong tables, basketball hoops, social activities or video games – what matters is that it is relevant to your team and that daily behaviors support the message that work can be an enjoyable place to be. Encourage spontaneous interaction and plan informal, fun events that let the team get to know each other and relax at work. Just a few weeks ago, our office had a “Smoothie Week” where a different person brought and made a different smoothie every day.
Color also plays a large role in expressing company culture in your office. A dim space with white walls does not suggest much in the areas of creativity or fun. Consider painting one or two walls a bright color or adding colorful accents throughout the office. Not only will it make the space feel more welcoming, but it can also improve employees’ moods; Studies have shown the color blue helps workers feel calm and productive, and red is great for tasks that require attention to detail. Not sure how to incorporate color into your space? See for yourself.
Don’t forget nature. Live plants not only make a space feel more comfortable and homey, but a study from Texas A&M University found that flowers and plants increase workplace productivity and creative performance.
Be Hospitable. The truth is, we often spend more time at work than at home, so it’s important for an office to be a welcoming environment for employees. By providing a hospitality area, you send the message that you care about your workers’ wellbeing. Provide a station with coffee, mints, ibuprofen, snacks, etc. for employees. The spot will not only serve as a place to find refreshments, but also a social hub where people can take a break, gather and informally exchange ideas.
Hospitality also extends to guests. Make sure you have a welcoming entrance and waiting area for potential business partners and hires. Provide comfortable seating, magazines or books, a water cooler or even a candy jar. If you don’t have an administrative team member near the entrance, make sure someone can see when guests arrive so they aren’t left waiting.
Kevin Kuske is chief brand anthropologist and skipper for Turnstone, a Steelcase brand that exists to unlock human promise through the amplification of entrepreneurship. Turnstone is inspired by the spirit of small business, and its primary focus is on creativity-based work and helping workers become more productive, engaged and inspired.