How Workspace Design Influences Company Culture

If you want to drive company culture, changing your work environment is one way to influence it.

Office design and the physical features in your workspace have a pronounced effect on the way your employees think and behave.

Your office also conveys your company’s character and priorities to customers, partners, and investors that visit your location. What do you want your office to say about your brand?

Your Workspace Shapes Your Culture

Take a look at this office space.

how office design shapes company culture

That’s a pretty standard office scene, right? Each employee has his or her own cubicle, nobody really has a window seat so there’s no competition for the best spot, and the whole place is fairly uniform.

Let’s think about the culture of this office.

  • Do you think they prioritize collaboration, or do they discourage conversation during work hours so that people focus on their individual tasks?
  • Do you think a strict hierarchy is important, or are employees empowered to make their own decisions?
  • Would you assume that management prefers to be absolutely in control, or that they give employees lots of autonomy?
  • Is innovation a priority, or is conformity more important?

Cubicle Culture

The cubicle culture is a culture of control, hierarchy, and conformity. There are clear, sharply defined lines of distinction between management and their subordinates, and the primary focus tends to be on task completion rather than creativity.

For some companies, this culture is exactly what they want – employees complete a specific set of tasks with brutal efficiency, and management is there to make sure that the results are delivered as quickly as possible. Innovation and egalitarianism will only gum up the works and prevent important jobs from being completed.

The problem arises when a company that wants to be creative, forward thinking, and nimble tries to do that within the confines of a cubicle culture.

Let’s look at another office design example.

the design of your office shapes your company's culture

When you look at this office design, you get a completely different feeling about the company that works here.

The space is much more open, and people who work at any of the available seats have a clear line of sight to many of their coworkers, while some effort has been made to limit distractions with dividing walls between seats that are placed close together.

Think about the culture of a company that works in a space like this:

  • Do you think they prioritize collaboration, or do they discourage conversation during work hours so that people focus on their individual tasks?
  • Do you think a strict hierarchy is important, or are employees empowered to make their own decisions?
  • Would you assume that management prefers to be absolutely in control, or that they give employees lots of autonomy?
  • Is innovation a priority, or is conformity more important?

Creative Culture

By opening up the sight lines, employees are more empowered to communicate, collaborate, and create. Ideas flow easily, and discussion happens naturally and in person, rather than fragmentary email conversations.

Notice, too, that there are no special places for management to sit and sequester themselves from the mere employees on the floor.

There’s a conference room for private meetings, but leadership will presumably occupy the same space as everyone else. This kind of layout encourages open communication and trust.

While this kind of culture is a little messier, it’s ideal for businesses that want to come up with new ideas, innovate, and compete in their market by being the first to introduce new ideas. Work is still completed efficiently, but the emphasis is placed on working intelligently rather than working on repetitive, well defined tasks.

Driving Cultural Change With Office Design

So, is it time to ditch the cubicles and buy yourself some couches and a ping pong table?

Maybe not.

First, decide what kind of culture your company needs. Do you need to be ruthlessly competitive? Entrepreneurial and flexible? Meticulous, controlled, and steady?

From there, you can decide how that translates in your office design.

The more you need individual team members to hunker down and produce perfect work, the greater your need for individual, quiet spaces where interruptions are few.

If creativity and innovation are important, allow more flexibility in your management style and design your office in ways that get people to bump into each other. The more often people talk, especially to those who perform functions outside of their own expertise, the more likely you’ll produce new ideas.

For a company with competitive ambitions, you’ll probably want to blend public workspaces with private areas, and allow your team members to use each as needed to accomplish their individual goals.

Give it some thought, and choose a design that aligns with your values and needs.

how office design influences company culture

Square Graphic
Schedule a
No-Hassle Visit
See what Faciliteq can do for you. It all starts with a visit to our showroom. Schedule yours right away.
Schedule a
Visit Now