Culture and workplace

The role of the office in supporting a wider business agenda is increasingly recognised by senior decision makers. This week, new data on this subject comes from a YouGov survey of 2,000 UK businesses. Talent attraction and retention is frequently cited as one of the aspirations of a well-designed office. The study supports this, with 79% of respondents stating that a high quality office design would influence their decision on whether to take a job. However, the findings go further than this. 85% of respondents believed that their clients would make judgements on their business based on their workplace, and 67% stated that the design of their workspace had an impact on company culture. Whereas churn and recruitment costs are easier to measure (and build a business case on), culture is a more nebulous quality upon which those holding the purse strings tend to need more convincing. A 2013 MIT paper found that of the cultural drivers of value, (a) a perception of integrity and (b) reporting that ‘I can be myself’ were most correlated with financial performance among S&P 500 businesses. So, if these cultural traits have proven financial benefits, how can one stimulate these using office design? Perception of integrity is typically linked to open and visible communication, and so open plan offices with visible management is likely to be augmentative. Being able to be oneself typically depends on the fit between personal and corporate values. One solution is embodying clear corporate values around office design (e.g. non-allocated group work spaces for companies that espouse teamwork or lab / experimentation / creative space for a company that espouses innovation). Another would be creating different spaces in a building to suit different people.