DESIGNING THE WORK ENVIRONMENT

In this blog series, we are exploring ways of finding (and keeping) the right employee for your business. In this post we write about designing the work environment of the future (now).

Much has be written about how companies like Google and Microsoft have created work environments for their employees that are fun and innovative. Such companies are striving to create a company culture that not only attracts talent but once hired, helps them stay creative, inspired, and ultimately loyal employees.

In the twentieth century, workers had to learn to fit the company. As Millennials become more dominant in the workforce, we believe, companies will be designed around the needs and expectations of their employees.

Not too long ago we walked into a large title company whose main production office was near Wall Street in New York City. A quick review of the company’s employees indicated that most were less than 30 years of age.The company’s production staff was quartered on one large floor that had only a few offices with doors along the perimeter of the building. The main central area of the work space was open and desks were arranged in team configurations to facilitate communication and quick brain-storming sessions. Some desks did not have chairs but rather large bean bags and occasionally we could see someone bouncing a beach ball through the air. On Friday afternoons managers circulated a beer\beverage cart through the workspace. The company promoted informal social gatherings after work and on weekends to foster morale and a team spirit. Managers reported that employees were frequently solicited for input and new ideas. In one corner of the room sat a ping pong table. The company was still a long way off from many of the innovative work place practices we have heard about from companies like Google but we walked away with the strong impression that a focused effort was being made to accommodate and cater to a new generation of workers.

Of course the idea of designing your workspace to be innovative and user friendly is not new. Frank Lloyd Wright’s interior designs for the Larkin soap company in Buffalo, New York in 1903 and later in 1936 for the S.C. Johnson & Son wax company in Racine, Wisconsin, were early examples of open space and innovative work space design.That being said, the work and culture of most title companies reflect the owner’s philosophy of work and title and settlement methods computerized before the internet.

Going forward, the concept of company culture and work design will be increasingly important. In our opinion, the culture and work environment of a company should reflect the vision and values of the owner(s) and senior managers. That being said, understanding your future employees and designing a work environment to meet their needs and expectations will be a value that is critical to success in the near future.

In that spirit, here are six ideas to consider to foster innovation and creativity in the work place and meet the needs of a new generation of talented employees.

  1. Diversity. Diversity in the workplace is not just about race and your hiring practices. Diversity also means considering how your work space reflects the diversity of the people you hire. People have different tastes based on the cultures from which they come. The best way to consider the environments employees would like to work in is to ask them. Newly designed work environments might be called eclectic or unique, because they embrace different tastes.
  2. Open Spaces. We did some work for a graphics design firm several years ago. Throughout the open spaces of the office were white boards. Employees could use them for new ideas they wanted to write on the spur of the moment, questions they wanted people to consider, quotes, or just about anything they wanted to write for creative consideration.
  3. New Ideas. Think of how ideas in your company float to the top. How does management tap into creative thinking on a consistent basis? The old idea box has been replaced with town-hall type meetings, informal chat sessions, and provisions on line for employees to provide input. Open spaces also facilitate idea sharing and spontaneous brainstorming.
  4. Work Space. Desk choices now include options for standing while working. Some research now suggests the brain actually functions better in an upright position and there are added overall health advantages (see May 26, 2015, Daily Health News).
  5. Stress-free space. Some offices have added rooms not just for lunch breaks but for taking a creative break. Think of a spot where you can go and relieve stress or even take a nap! The idea is to break up the routine for sitting at the same spot at a desk all day.
  6. Out of office retreats. Innovation doesn’t just happen at the office. Sometimes the best ideas happen when you are away (free) from the office. Consider taking your team to a park in the afternoon for a meeting or any place that is out of the norm and would be interesting, fun, and get the creative juices flowing.

These are only a few ideas for redesigning company culture and work space. If you would like more information about developing innovation and creativity in the workplace for your employees please contact Chris Hanson or Roger Lubeck through this website or from http://www.cbaltd.biz

The articles in this blog are co-written by Chris Hanson and Roger Lubeck at Corporate Behavior Analysts, Ltd (CBA). CBA’s books on Management, Leadership and Sales, Finding the Right Path and Finding the Right Strategy can be ordered directly via this website or through Amazon.

To learn more about CBA’s consulting services, contact us directly or explore our website.