For organisations that dream of emulating Silicon Valley’s success stories, growth is the main goal. However, many senior managers underestimate the importance of bringing an organisation’s strategy into the physical realm of the workplace.
Theoretically, it is well known that an organisation’s people – both its employees and clients – technology and operations are key drivers of business growth. It’s less clear how to align these core pillars to achieve significant commercial success. The workplace is the perfect intersection point. If designed effectively, it can draw in top talent, increase productivity, nurture innovation and communicate the intangible aspects of a company to potential clients and investors.
The workplace as a magnet for sought-after talent
According to a series of surveys conducted by consultancy firm Maddock Douglas, 80% of executives know the success of their company relies on their ability to introduce new products and services. Yet, it is an organisation’s people that generate new ideas, test new products and innovate concepts. So, attracting the right type of talent – people who align with the business’ core principles, purpose and mission – is essential for businesses to perform at an optimum level. The UK’s leading office design company, Oktra, conducted a workplace report in partnership with YouGov. They surveyed over 2,000 British employees and found that 79% would be more inclined to want a position at a company with a well-designed workplace. One of Oktra’s Creative Directors, Sean Espinasse, explains the importance of fostering the employee experience when designing hypergrowth sportswear company, Gymshark’s new HQ: “our challenge was to create a space that matched them, not only as individuals but as a brand. It needed to match their future aspirations too, and a large part of this involved creating a space that signalled to future employees ‘we have space for you – we’re serious now,’ and it worked.” When Gymshark moved into their new headquarters there were 150 employees, eighteen months later there are over 350. Create the right space and you’ll attract the right talent.
User-experience and the power of place
While leading brands understand that being customer-focused provides a competitive advantage, many scale-ups actively disregard the power of place. The workplace is a tool that can, in a split-second, demonstrate an organisation’s ethos, vision and culture – both subtly and effectively. Nic Pryke, also a Creative Director at Oktra, explains that “if you walk into a space and you see people being creative, it’s much more powerful than a sales person telling you their company is creative.” The right workplace experience is key for any business looking to scale their operations by attracting clients and investors. In Oktra’s workplace report, 85% of respondents agreed that visitors and clients typically judge a business based on its workplace. Considering it takes one-tenth of a second to form an opinion of a person based on their appearance, the same can be said for a client or investor visiting a workplace. Does your workplace align with the identity you want to emulate?
The workplace as a physical manifestation of your brand
Developing a strong brand identity is extremely important for sustained business growth. As Pryke explains:
“For a while now, Oktra have been thinking about the workplace in terms of behaviour, rather than in terms of carpet, desks and furniture. But it can be difficult to explain the effects workplace design has on behaviour, especially if clients are considering moving from a traditional work environment to a more agile one. They need to see how it works and understand how it feels emotionally, so it’s much easier to show them – to physically walk them around the space so they can see and understand for themselves.”
Oktra’s Strategic Director, Ben Lonsdale, elaborates by saying, “in any business, whether the organisation creates a product or delivers a service, the workplace should help visitors understand the value of the brand. That’s what it’s all about – making it real. So, the moment someone walks into your workplace, it has to leave a memorable and lasting impression.”
Workplace and technology: gather data, make informed decisions, innovate – repeat.
Innovation supports growth. In fact, the definition of innovation centres around finding new ways to grow – developing new processes, creating new experiences and designing new models. Today, data, machine learning and AI provide businesses with a host of information that help them form smart and actionable insights. Collecting data on space use is critical when optimising your workspace for efficiency. Data collection in the workplace can spark debate, but monitoring space use is one type of data collection that doesn’t compromise privacy. Sensors that pick-up motion, temperature and light levels can be installed throughout your workplace, collecting live feedback on the way your space is used and revealing which spaces could be made more effective.
As Lonsdale explains, “the way organisations work will continue to change. Investing in tech means you have a better understanding, in real-time, of how the space works. These feedback loops create opportunities for continuous improvement – ensuring the space can evolve with the organisation.”
Agility and resilience – surviving uncertainty
In today’s public health and economic climate, organisations of all sizes are experiencing unprecedented challenges. Fast-growing organisations are likely to see their people, processes and market share change in the blink of an eye. The extent to which this will impact businesses is unknown and companies will need to encourage a culture of resilience and agility. In the last economic downturn, McKinsey & Company followed the paths of over 1,000 organisations.[i] They found that 10% of the companies faired significantly better than the others; dubbing these companies “resilients”. According to McKinsey & Co, their success could be attributed to agility. Agility enabled the resilients to contract and expand their operations in line with the changing economic market – saving valuable resources during the downturn and expanding rapidly at the first sign of economic recovery. Unfortunately, no precedent has been set for the current crisis. It is likely this pandemic will result in a recession and if we are to take anything from the past, it should be that organisations who embed agility and resilience into their culture will faire significantly better than others. Businesses will need to be fluid in order to adapt and, ultimately, recover.
Want to find out how your workplace can drive future growth? To speak with a workplace expert, visit oktra.co.uk