Is Your Workplace Culture-Friendly?

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By: Tim Kay, Managing Director, Project and Development Services, JLL

There is no singular, prescriptive answer to the question: what is the ideal office design? Every business demands custom design and functionality, all reflective of brand image.

One universal office space trend has emerged, however, and that’s culture. Next generation talent gravitates toward companies that emanate established, strong cultures. It’s also what keeps the current workforce there for the long haul.

Does your office space drive innovation, and reflect true brand identity and culture? If the answer is no, read on for insight into workplace trends that might (or might not) work for your business, as well as actionable tips for better alignment.

Workplace Trends: One Size Does Not Fit All

In competition for top talent, businesses have realized the importance of innovative, creative office space paired with a sharp focus on culture. However, not all workplace trends are universally beneficial.

Take Yahoo for example. At the turn of the recession, the technology company allowed employees to work remotely to cut costs and meet employee requests. In 2013, however, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer reconsidered working from home policies, realizing that it wasn’t a good fit for performance or collaborative culture. Following the change, Mayer received heavy criticism.

The result? Engagement is better than ever. According to Fast Company, Yahoo’s workplace “has become a catalyst for energy and buzz.”

Workplace trends are not one-size-fits-all. It’s important to assess whether office modifications will fit a business’ every need, from morale to productivity.

Does Your Office Need a Facelift?

Before reinventing office policies or design, identify what’s working and what’s not.

There are a few red flags that typically point to the need for an office redesign, such as the hiring timeline, employee happiness and churn.

Check in with your HR department to identify the average timespan between job posting and hiring. Candidates will associate office look-and-feel with internal culture. Office design is a major factor when it comes to employee attraction. Similarly, high churn is another warning sign that workplace changes are needed.

If done right, change should improve efficiencies, boost productivity and nurture employee happiness. Consider the questions below to jump-start an internal evaluation.

  • Do employees look forward to coming into the office?
  • What aspects of your workplace hinder or improve productivity and company culture?
  • What are the company’s overlying goals and mission statements? Does culture reflect that vision?
  • How does the office space contribute to (or take away from) employee productivity?
  • Are open spaces used for creative collaboration, or useless chatter?
  • What’s trending with your current clients and competitors for modern office design (closed, open, mixed space, etc.)?

3 Ways to Align Vision To Your Workplace

From corporate headquarters to local offices, every space should be a true reflection of internal culture and talent.

If a company’s website boasts a modern, environmentally conscious and approachable culture, its office space should deliver on that promise. Potential talent (and current talent) can sense disconnect between your brand online and the workplace reality. Top companies present an authentic, aligned brand presence.

Ensure your brand’s image aligns seamlessly with the office space. Here are three tips to get started:

1. Keep culture top of mind. Assess your company’s value set. What are the company’s mission, vision and values? Develop and maintain a culture that is genuine. From there, it’s easier to find talent that’s a fit, and the space that will keep the team productive.

Not sure where to start? JLL can help with a cultural assessment.

2. Rethink your definition of work. Offer flexibility in work styles. Opportunities for workspace change means understanding one trend: work happens anywhere, at any time.

There’s been major success around choice and flexibility when it comes to productivity. Analyze and determine where employees are most efficient, whether at home, in office, or by task. Provide your employees with a-la-carte options for their workspace, and you’ll likely see benefits on all sides.

3. Inspire talent. An uninspiring workspace will not keep talent. Ensure leadership can effectively stick to company mission, vision and values in all activities. Change management isn’t always easy, but sometimes necessary. Let’s take it back to the Yahoo example. Mayer was under fire for her decision to eliminate remote working, but isolated work was limiting idea generation. She made a hard decision, but one that was better for her company in the long run.

Inspiring talent is leadership’s job. Creating the right environment and brand plays a starring role in that too.

Rethinking your office or changing employee work functions for the sake of “keeping up” with competitors isn’t enough.

Update your space in harmony with your brand mission, employee preferences, and the daily activities that happen in office. A workspace that meets the deeper needs of your team (belonging, authenticity, collaboration, productivity)—while also meeting form and function of the job—will ultimately build brand culture and success.



About the Author

Tim KayTim Kay is Managing Director and Market Leader for Michigan, Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. He is responsible for business and team development, resource management and accountability for his area. Connect with Tim on LinkedIn

One thought on “Is Your Workplace Culture-Friendly?

  1. Robert Stempien

    Excellent article Tim! Great observations about our work environments and how it can impact employees. Good office design can influence our well being in many ways directly and indirectly.

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