In the midst of a culture shift, create a workspace that works

Whether it’s a merger, moving to new management model, or replacing members of the executive team, it’s not unusual for companies to switch gears in ways that may affect employees and company culture. In today’s competitive marketplace, where many businesses treat their offices as a manifestation of their core values, firms must consider the real workspace impact of a culture shift. Organizations must understand how the new culture will affect daily operations and how the office space can be remapped to accommodate the change (or even help facilitate it).

Here are a few tips for how businesses navigating a culture change can ensure that their space transforms with it:

  1. Define your culture. This is the unequivocal first step – and the one that’s most often overlooked – for companies in the midst of a culture change. Through focus groups and all-company surveys, organizations can establish their company values with input straight from the source. Whatever it is that defines your firm, it’s important to stick to that ethos, and your space must be a true reflection of your culture. Do your employees value team collaboration and interaction? Place them in pods that facilitate communication. If your executives enjoy being in the midst of the workday buzz, establish an open door (or no door) policy. Little things are often the most meaningful and are likely to reinforce and develop culture over time.
  2. Make culture a team sport. Employees are the only ones who know what they truly want out of their workplace and space. Giving them a voice in the matter and empowering them to help out can better ensure employers that the culture will sustain employee morale, even during major transitions. Determine how they like to work. Do they prefer beanbags to traditional office fare? What about standing desks to office chairs? Create a steering committee to take on the task of maintaining the interplay between interiors and office culture. Not only will it make employees feel more invested in the project, but also it will ingrain the equal-say mentality.
  3. Reinstate the quarterly review. Times leading up to and after an organization’s culture shift are prone to internal chaos. Schedule check-ins with employees and management to determine what’s working—and what’s definitely not—in regards to office space and culture. If there are serious problems, take action immediately. Failing to do so might shake staff loyalty and effectively disintegrate the “new” culture before it has a chance to take hold.

Office space is not the only gauge of office culture. Rather, culture is the result of a highly precise process, which starts with passionate leaders but hinges on employee involvement. Space is both the reflection and incarnation of that. When culture changes, space must change, too. By following the tips above, companies can ensure that this process seems less like an overhaul and more like a united transformation.

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