Before discussing and planning office layouts, let’s set this up shall we?
You wake up, get ready for the day, and head to your office which is—where?
Tele-commuting became a popular term over 20 years ago. In just the last few years, offices experienced more decentralization with employees and freelance staff working remotely from home or co-working spaces.
The office was still the central place that most employees went to during their morning commute. And then Covid-19 hit with stay-at-home orders that left workplaces in a state of uncertainty. An estimated two weeks to beat the virus stretched into a few months of closures, and even longer in some areas.
The centralized workplace environment changed. Suddenly, home offices became necessary and the coffee shops that were open became places of work. Zoom meetings and WebEx became the professional method of meeting, interrupted by dogs barking in the background and children needing help with their online classes.
Today’s office layout is likely changed—permanently.
But that doesn’t mean employees will no longer have rush hour commutes. What it does mean is that office workers now have more options for where they can get their work done.
How companies adapt and handle the array of choices depends on the culture that comes from CEOs and other organizational leaders.
Your team may be physically distant from each other, but sharing corporate culture and values will keep them together in spirit. And that can be just as powerful as bringing everyone together in the same office.
Basics of Developing Corporate Culture
“Culture” is an intangible element of the workplace environment. However, what we see and experience impacts what we refer to as the culture. The consistency of our habits and behaviors has a tremendous influence.
Is your company described as “cutting edge” but uses equipment that’s second-rate and interior colors that appear blah and outdated?
Do you tout great customer care but tell staff to keep their heads down, don’t ask questions and do their work?
You expect customers to remain brand loyal, but do you frequently shop for new vendors to get lower prices, even though your current ones are giving you good service?
What is promised to the customers and clients should also be reflected to employees. That way, trust and respect are earned. This is one of the foundations for establishing a corporate culture that aligns with your company’s vision and mission.
Even what seems mundane like workplace furnishings and lighting are assets in creating a positive workplace.
An article in Forbes magazine, Looking to Create Great Company Culture? Studies Show to Start with Your Office Space, says there are tremendous benefits to creating a welcoming work environment. Companies bolster team morale, increase employee retention, and enhance overall productivity.
- Invest in ergonomics and related accessories so the workplace meets the physical, emotional and task needs of your employees.
- Use quality chairs and modular workstations with a pleasing color selection.
- Maximize natural light if possible. Enlarge windows and install solar tubes or skylights. Natural light is one of the most desirable elements in an engaging workspace.
Photo: Stylex Seating
Know Your Brand When Planning Office Layouts
A nonprofit that specialized in working with children and families in Los Angeles County wanted to look professional inside its offices. Defining that term is central to your culture.
The organization placed images of board directors on the lobby walls and made sure the paint was clean and trim. It was neat and fresh, but it didn’t look like a child-centric place. The lobby could have been any professional business.
Why couldn’t it have been a messy-looking area on the wall where kids made their hand prints and scrawled their names? This small touch would have given the organization immediate brand recognition.
What’s your brand?
What touches can you bring to the interior that immediately set it apart?
Photo: Scale 1:1 Lean2 Dividers
Know the Atmosphere
The combination of pacing and leadership lends itself to a certain type of culture.
Are you a relaxed and loose confederation of professionals like architects who find your own clients and build individual accounts beneath a common company name? Then executive offices are needed.
Employees who are more like independent contractors have a great deal of autonomy and are likely to work well in their own office at home or at a co-working site.
The central office is key to maintaining brand identity and bringing the team together when working in collaboration on projects.
If your office at break-neck speed like in an entertainment production environment or advertising then consider the latest open-plan benching solutions.
If people need to come together often and achieve high-level results in the shortest time possible then the team is going to function closely together.
Aim for the Right Type of Culture
Imagine an infographic as you chart out the relationship between work and culture: the more that work requires a collaborative team producing results, then the more a central office space is needed.
The type of work is only one element in culture.
A leader’s outlook and confidence is a significant factor.
The founder of a family run business who takes a “we’ve always done it this way” approach is going to face a dilemma when outside forces create change.
The CEO who’s confident, gathers staff input, and knows when to foster collaboration or independence has a significant impact on the workplace.
Choose the culture that’s right for your needs:
- Independence with occasional checking in—good for professionals who work with a large degree of autonomy.
- Starting separate then finishing together—this is the type of work where one type of talent begins a project, like a writer creating ad copy, and then the team refines the rough results.
- Close collaboration—this could be a small engineering firm developing robots or other products where continual input is needed from start to finish.
Photo: Trendway Clearwall
Developing Office Landscapes
Going to work for some employees may mean taking the dogs for a walk around the block before settling into a home office. For others, it can mean getting up before daylight to make the drive from the Inland Empire into Orange County.
Either setting is appropriate in today’s diverse office eco-system.
It’s relevant to ensure standards are in place.
Select co-working sites that meet your office requirements.
Layout an office interior with the right equipment and space planning to ensure comfort and safety.
Since employees may rotate in and out, plan for quiet areas or shared workstations that are kept properly sanitized.
Planning Office Layouts Input and Advice
They have nearly 50 years combined experience working with distinguished corporations, leading universities, and small businesses throughout Southern California.
Read Also: Plan Your Office Branding for the Employee Experience
Main Photo: Rouillard Kopa Seating
Resources & Special Thanks to Respective Product Manufacturers: AMQ, Rouillard, Scale 1:1, Stylex & Trendway