To quote Steve Jobs: “Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works.”

Adrian Norman

Head of Design

21st Jul 2016

Office design and office culture are so inextricably bound up that it’s almost remarkable that an office would be designed before a business moves into it. It’s no coincidence that memorable companies also have memorable premises (think of Google and you think of Google HQ, think of Innocent and you think of Fruit Towers). An organisation’s culture does and should impact office design and its culture should manifest itself through design.

But this culture doesn't have to mean a super-trendy tech start-up manifesto or a beards-for-all philosophy. The notion of culture encompasses everything from processes to work practices and flows and interactions between teams. The crucial thing is that how a company works is reflected in where it works. If your teams constantly communicate, work with each other and there is constant interaction, it makes no sense to have tiny cupboards separating everyone.

Similarly, if your organisation is carefully and deliberately siloed, then you don’t want a large, open-plan space where nobody can get a moment’s peace or there is no privacy. If you have a workspace that just about fits your staff and their desks but you have to leave the premises to do the work you’re renowned for, then that culture gets eroded.

Morgan Lovell knows this and works hard to understand the culture and objectives of our clients before the design process has begun. In many cases, our workplace consultants will gain a deep understanding of your business, from its needs and goals, to its people, culture, existing systems, policies and technology. We monitor how your current space is being used using our bespoke technology. This helps us to fully understand the needs of the business and also reveals important data about how much and why a particular space is being used.

In-depth interviews with key stakeholders determine a company’s needs from the perspective of its leaders. These conversations, along with staff surveys, help build a picture of what employees want from an office and how they work. This also builds an accurate picture of future needs and overall vision, crucial for effective office design. Putting employees at the centre of workplace design means the space will inevitably work better for them.

It may seem obvious but it’s surprising how many companies don’t bear this in mind when choosing a new workplace for their staff. Of course, the cost is a factor but designing a workplace based just on affordability can have enormous repercussions in the long term. We know that the work environment can affect employee wellbeing and also staff retention, we know that workplace design affects staff satisfaction and we know that staff satisfaction affects profits. Designing your workplace to reflect company culture, company vision and staff behaviour will not only make your life easier but will boost your bottom line.