Hearing someone say they work at Google seems to have the same effect on every listener regardless of their industry background…Wow!
It’s a true testament to the Google leaders that they have created a reputation of being such a desirable place to work, but lets face it, it’s not just because of the type of work carried out there. With unique, fun, quirky, often bizarre office interiors, which include slides, video games and ski-gondolas, Google lead the way in a trend to change the traditional view of what a corporate office should look and feel like. There is method to the supposed madness.
Google, Facebook, Airbnb and so many of the newer global companies, along with a few of the longer established, understand that the culture and physical experience of your company is a huge part of your company brand. They understand that it is the people and living experience internally behind the brands that help to dictate how the brand is perceived externally.
An office is far more than walls, desks and computers. It’s a recruitment tool, a second home and a place to inspire those who work within. If a leader’s job is to get the best from their employees then part of that responsibility is creating a space that motivates people to make the most of shaping and growing their brand.
If you care about company culture and authentic brand experience then the office space matters. It is an important part of how the employee views their work. But flashy spaces, open plan offices and bean bags are not for everyone. A place without quite spaces can be just as ineffective as grey cardboard cubicles. There are certain elements however that will provide triggers to employees and customers alike about the company culture that may need to be addressed.
• Collaborative Space
You don’t have to be a creative company to have a need for a collaborative space. If people arrive into the office, go to their desk and stay there until the end of the day then the company is not maximizing the benefits that come from employee interactions between the company thinkers and innovators. A dedicated collaborative space that can be used for informal interactions can make employees more comfortable to contribute, to share opinions and develop new ideas.
• Brand Ambassadors
Employees are your brand ambassadors. Creating an office space that reminds them each day of what they and the brand are trying to achieve can be a powerful motivator.
• Reflect Your Core Brand Values
If sustainability is an important ‘value’ underpinning your brand, then this should be communicated using internal triggers as well as external communication. Using and promoting recyclable materials within the office for example ensures that those working to build the brand understand that the company genuinely believes and lives by the values they promote. You are authentically living that brand value and reinforcing it everyday in what you do.
• Recruit The Best
Google and Facebook offices are designed not only to serve current employees, but to attract the best talent. They use their office space to communicate the type of culture they promote internally and to attract ‘like minded’ people who can fit within that culture and become part of the brand family. Both understand the needs of the people that work for them and have been hugely beneficial to the organisation, as employees reciprocate with high levels or productivity and efficiency.
• Create Customer Cues
PR and advertising can support a strategy that communicates a brand’s vision and values, but that can be destroyed at the workplace if the office space doesn’t align with the promise of your brand message. If your brand communicates a sense of community or creativity, but your offices are comprised of people working separately behind closed doors what kind of message does this send to your customers? Internal triggers and experiences can make a significant external impact. Even reception rooms and meeting room names can tell a story that reflects the brand. Think about your customer’s brand journey. How would your offices influence the customer’s perspective and experience of your brand?
Company culture is not something that can be created from blueprints. It is something that is shaped by the people working within. Leaders can influence it, they can coax and enable the desired type of brand culture but even the well intentioned leader can inadvertently establish dysfunctional workplaces by creating a workspace that is at odds with the brand values and messages the employees are working to shape.
Google may have developed a reputation of a fun, goofy place to work, but what it really signifies is a deep understanding by its leaders, that the environment can play a significant role in creating the balance needed to promote problem solving and creativity in an industry that demands both.
If you can’t glean clues about the brand or the people behind it from walking in the door of the office you could be in trouble. Get your office ‘on brand’, and it could play a valuable part in supporting your innovation, productivity levels, marketing mix and consequently profitability coupled with long term success.
• What do you think of some of the world’s ‘coolest’ offices?
• How does yours compare? Is it ‘on brand’ or congruent with what your brand stands for?
• Does your office space encourage collaboration, innovation and creativity?
• Does your office space reflect your brand culture?