Of course it’s important for your physical workplace to be functional and engaging. But, as marketing strategist Ivana Taylor notes, that space is also an important part of your overall brand. Visitors and employees alike see your office space as an extension of company culture. In other words, your workspace offers a unique opportunity to build your brand identity and reinforce your core values. Here’s how.
Start by listing your values.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but as Taylor suggests, identifying and listing your values can be a helpful first step. The office design process is a great chance for you to refocus on the principles that are most important to your work. And having those values front and center can help you start thinking about how to translate them into the physical workspace.
Consider the overall layout.
Office layout has a big impact on the way workers and clients perceive your values. For instance, the recent trend toward open workspaces – (which some companies are now re-thinking) – reflects an emphasis on collaboration and communication. A company that values a democratic ideal might ensure that higher-ups have offices that are easy to access. And workplaces with features like video-game rooms, bowling alleys, and whimsical shared space suggest a company that is creative, playful, and “cool.” It may be tempting to blindly follow current trends in office layout. But it’s important to remember that, as workplace strategist Joe Flynn says, “one size does not fit all.” If your company’s a little more conservative than a cutting-edge tech firm, you may not want clients to see employees skateboarding across a room full of bean bags. Or if you’re in an industry that places a high value on privacy and confidentiality, perhaps individual offices with closeable doors make sense. One strategy for offering both privacy and a sense of teamwork is the use of glass-walled offices and conference spaces.
Unlock the power of color.
Color has long been considered an important factor for branding — your company likely has a color scheme for that purpose. When thinking about your office space and how it reflects your values, that palette is a good place to start. But don’t be afraid to move beyond those colors. Think about what kind of emotional environment you want to evoke:
- Calming and soothing? Consider cool blues, or muted colors and grays.
- Energetic and creative? Maybe you’re looking for yellows, oranges, and reds.
- Plush and regal? Deep purples might work.
While you may not have the budget to go all out, splashes of color can give personality to an otherwise lackluster space. There are plenty of online resources to help with color and interior design – this article at Decoist can get you started.
Choose the right furniture and furnishings.
Office décor can go a long way toward conveying your company’s culture. Well-chosen furniture and decoration can make your office feel trustworthy, rustic, professional, innovative, or whatever value you want to express. Modern design elements can be sleek and forward-looking, for example, while incorporating greenery can be relaxing and refreshing. In fields where trust and expertise are particularly important – think medicine, law, and the like – your decorating strategy may include more traditional elements, such as academic credentials displayed on the walls. But even if you’re in a “traditional” industry, that doesn’t mean you can’t add some fun and value-driven individuality into your office design. Take for example a law firm in L.A. that recently moved into offices “infused with the style of a boutique hotel.”
Consider bold gestures that reinforce your values.
A bold design decision can engage workers and make a lasting impact on visitors. For instance, creative large-scale design elements – like Google’s slides or Epic’s subway-themed hallway – clearly reflect a creative corporate culture. In his discussion of core values and office space, strategy consultant Ron Thomas remembers visiting several companies with striking designs. At one firm, “the walls were adorned with a blow up of their core values.” At another, there was “a marquee that literally welcomed every visitor.” A third company had located its office in a large villa that provided not only a “wow factor,” but also a homey and tranquil atmosphere for employees. Keep in mind, of course, that a bold design element shouldn’t be there just for the sake of being there. It should actively reflect and reinforce your company’s core values
Empower your employees.
Hopefully, keeping your team happy is one of your company’s main goals. If so, allow workers to have a say in office design and to customize their space within the larger workplace. A recent study showed that many employees, especially Millennials, believe they help define workplace culture. Why not let them do so in a tangible way at the office? Does your office need some wow? Learn how The iPad Receptionist helped TripAdvisor impress both employees and visitors.