Petra O’Shea

By Petra O’Shea
Head of Sales - Southern |

You could create the best office design in the world, but if it’s not thoroughly thought through with a reflective and inclusive culture, your office risks becoming a very well furnished wasteland.

If you’re looking at adopting new ways of working and shaking up your culture with your new fit out, make sure HR is onboard early on. Your office design can only take your workplace so far - a lot of the key success here relies directly on your workplace culture.

Your culture needs to match

Doing your design is only one part of your workplace transformation. If you’re planning a workplace shift from fixed workstations to agile or hot desking, then make sure HR is involved early in the project cycle.

A key element of agile working is to be completely flexible with the way your teams work - so make sure middle management is across the changes and none of your teams have elements of presenteeism or ‘desk time’ commitments.

If there’s a casual or alternate working space your staff want to use, then they need to know that it’s okay for them to work from there. Your staff should be empowered to sit on the cushioned bleachers that you've provided and work on their laptop if that's what suits their current mood and task!

Mechanical & electrical

Is it too hot, or too cold on your floor? Too bright, or too sunny? Workplace debates always seem to be centered around some form of climate control!

It’s important to have spaces people can use to help their bodies adjust to the right environment. Some people like working in the sun, so would prefer a desk or space near some big windows to provide plenty of natural light, whereas others may be after a darker environment underneath the air conditioning.

This also depends on the type of work being carried out. For the video editors over at AMC Networks, they wanted to have dedicated rooms for editing footage which maximised the contrast on their monitors; this required low-contrast, black desks, muted furnishings and the ability to dim the lights and block out any natural glare. This certainly isn’t an environment for everyone to work in, but perfectly complements a video editor’s work.

Creating the right atmosphere

Sometimes it’s the smallest touches that make the biggest impression. Think people don’t notice the quality of the coffee, the scent of your air fresheners or the thickness of the toilet roll? Think again!

A lot of these softer considerations are usually only front-of-mind for those inviting potential clients into their space. All too often, we see amenities split between client and staff areas, and you know what - it shouldn't be that way!

Is someone going to leave a job because the toilet paper is harsh? Probably not, but if good coffee, nice hand wash and soft toilet paper make them feel wanted and valued by your company every single day, then these small touches could be what makes them stay - and save you a thousand pound recruitment bill.

Technology

You’ve got a snazzy new automated meeting room system installed that tells you when it’s free, but your staff still have a culture of not booking rooms and just taking them over for a day.

This negates the new technology you’ve just invested in, so make sure everyone’s on-board with the new tech, comfortable using it and making sure that their team processes support the office’s new technology.