Office design is one of the most effective ways of successfully communicating your corporate culture to your staff and clients. Every business has a unique corporate culture and it is the single most important factor you should prioritise when designing or redesigning your workspace. Office interior design has the potential to not only support, but also change corporate culture, which is perfect for businesses going through the rebranding process to trying to shake things up.
Although culture is based on intangible things and difficult to articulate, it is the foundation of any workplace. Culture is based on attitudes, approaches, ethics and goals which can have far reaching effects on employee attraction and retention. Interior design, layout and furnishings are tangible methods of supporting corporate culture. In short, by expressing the personality of your company through office design, you can influence everything from productivity to brand perception.
Decide on your dominant culture
Before you start any design project at your workplace, you should consider the message you are trying to convey. Every company has a dominant culture, but they also have subcultures that can be acknowledged and expressed without damaging the overall personality of your business. For example, a company can have a collaborative culture that is demonstrated in an open floor plan with a very flexible layout, but contains more controlled subcultures within some departments like finance or I.T.
The advantage of deciding on an overall culture is that it provides a foundation, but it is not necessarily homogeneous. Subcultures are a natural result of the evolution of a company and although they are never truly independent from the main culture, they require different environments. This can allow you to be more creative with your design. For example, Interactive Space designed French asset management firm NGAM Natixis’ office in the City of London to bring the whole office together as a unified whole.
Our award-winning design at Natixis was the result of following a brief to make a strong corporate statement for the organisation’s first UK office. We designed an open plan desk space with individual bespoke lamps and art incorporated throughout the premises. The open and relaxed culture was centralised with a communal room for down-time and light work. Muted versions of the NGAM colours were integrated into the interior design and more creatively, the design took inspiration from the building’s proximity to St. Paul’s Cathedral, which is reflected in its glass façade. The carefully considered work culture means that subtle corporate branding helps the office work together more efficiently.
Help staff engage with your culture
Office design has untold value in engaging employees and helping them to become brand ambassadors. But they have to really understand what you’re trying to achieve in order to ‘live’ the culture and represent it as your public face. Employees will understand that a company is cutting-edge and progressive if it uses integrated technology or provides plenty of breakout areas. Similarly, glass walls and partitions reflect a transparent culture and art installations show an organisation’s attempt to add personality to their working environment.
The advertising group Dentsu wanted their West End office interior to reflect their mission statement “Making future magic” so the design needed to be impressive enough for the staff to believe and engage with this approach. The culture is reflected in everything from the 10-metre long walkway entrance made out of sail fabric to the bespoke table in the style of an aeroplane wing in the penthouse suite boardroom. Staff at Dentsu are now blogging about how proud they are to be working in such an innovative space.
Synergy Vision, a medical communications agency, enlisted our help for similar reasons. The agency wanted to more clearly define the brand they had developed and reflect their international standing in the sector. The result was a very vibrant open plan space with breakout areas and tea points and plenty of art to express the company’s creativity and progressive nature.
If you would like Interactive Space to support or reinvigorate your corporate culture through office design, please contact our friendly team.