Align Brand, Culture and Workspace for Effectiveness

When designing work spaces, it is important to understand there is a massive difference between being efficient and effective—especially in the context of today’s digital work culture.

Traditionally, the key metric companies use to measure space is cost-per-square-foot. This is all about efficiency. However social science now allows us to measure whether or not a space effectively helps or hinders performance. Unfortunately, what science knows and what companies actually do can be two completely different things.

Interaction is Efficient. Collaboration is Effective.

The trap of efficiency is the office becomes solely about interaction—interaction with co-workers, managers, customers and a daily portfolio of tasks. The issue is an office space solely designed for efficiency can be highly demotivating. Typically, this type of space requires the worker to adapt to the environment. In today’s highly competitive market, the result is a disengaged employee.

A collaborative office creates the conditions where employees are self-motivated to work the most effective manner that promotes autonomy. Autonomy is the personal sense that one can be the originator of one’s own action versus feeling controlled. This autonomy creates fulfillment which leads to increased engagement.

The Data of Collaborative Space Design

In 2011 Deskmag surveyed more than 1,500 coworkers in 52 countries to determine the impact of co-working spaces designed to promote collaboration. This was in contrast to the traditional office environment or working from home. The results speak for themselves:

  • 75% reported an increase in productivity since joining their space
  • 80% reported an increase in the size of their business network
  • 92% reported an increase in the size of their social circle
  • 86% reported a decrease in their sense of isolation
  • 83% reported that they trusted others in their co-working space

This research is now being used by companies today to design work spaces that enhance exploration, creativity and social connection.

How Companies Can Leverage Social Science

It is proven, using technology and business metrics, spaces can even be designed to produce specific performance outcomes. One space can be designed to promote face-to-face encounters—another for productivity or innovation. The social science of human motivation can be integrated proactively to engage workers and meet company goals.

This requires a company to understand the culture it is trying to achieve. For example, does your culture need to be focused on customer service at all times or innovating new products at all costs? Both represent a significant unique influence on space design.

The opportunity here is a company’s culture can become the nexus between employee engagement, space design and performance results. This is why we always advise, when beginning a space design initiative, to start with culture first.

Brand Profiles and Workspace Design

Using Envision's MDNA assessment, an organization can establish a strong direction on how to design a space that aligns to their brand and culture. The following is a cursory overview on the space possibilities for each Brand Profile.

Innovative Paradigms (UCD)

Spaces that express the unique ideology of the organization and help the employees do the same. This space type will vary widely based upon the ideology of the company.

Leadership Platforms (SSA)

Spaces that promote support for customers and/or training for employees.

Perfecting Precision (KWR)

Spaces that are conducive for knowledge work. This could include access to instruments, data organization, collaborative analysis and teaching.

Social Experience (EIA)

A strong orientation to open and even random collaboration is necessary. However, this must also be balanced with space where people can focus.

Valued Accessibility (CVS)

This space needs to be diverse and flexible depending upon the stage of the organization. Therefore customizability is helpful.

Scalable Systems (DLF)

Systems of productivity needs to be the main focus of this space. This type of organization will also want to express its pride in the brand.

Intimate Ecosystems (IAF)

This space needs to align to the heart of the brand vision and values and allow creative expression. Quality of design is extremely important.

An Individual's MDNA and Their Workspace

Here is a general overview of how an individual’s MDNA profile impacts space design. An individual’s MDNA can be determined with a simple assessment. You will see how an individual's MDNA has a strong correlation to the Brand Profile with the same. Please note that it is important to factor in an individual’s primary and secondary MDNA along with their perceptions of the industry in which they work.

UCD: Space design is not as important as the ideology in which the UCD works. UCDs do not need social interactions to be effective. Give UCDs opportunities to sneak away and work in isolation.

SSA: The SSA is engaged if they feel their space is conducive to supporting others—especially in the area of tangible needs. SSAs can work alone and with groups, or wherever they are needed most.

KWR: The KWR is most engaged and effective when there is access to information. This space should be designed for knowledge management and data validation.

EIA: The EIA requires maximum opportunity for social interaction—both random and with as many people as possible. EIAs thrive on social networks and feedback. (Don’t be surprised if they don’t sit at the same desk everyday if possible.)

CVS: The CVS being the most diverse and flexible of all MDNA gifts, approaches space the same way. CVS’ have no issue with a cubicle, office or even ripping a door off a frame and placing it on some milk crates. Just as long as he or she can see the value that is being produced for the effort.

DLF: For the DLF, think institutional and systems. In other words, the DLF requires a sense of institutional authority and ability to be productive in their space. This widely varies depending on the actual job position.

IAF: As high a priority as design is, a sense of personalized ecosystem is an even greater necessity. The IAF appreciates great design; however allowing this employee to creatively express in their space themselves will create maximum engagement.