Do Great Offices Make a Difference?

The short answer is yes.

As business leaders we know that alongside strategy, sales, and people, culture is key to a successful company. I often get asked what are some of the immediate, practical steps that can be taken to have an instant impact on culture.

I truly believe transforming your workspace is one if the quickest and easiest wins with instant rewards.

Here’s how we changed the Tekron office, and the 10 immediate outcomes we have seen:

TRANSFORMING THE TEKRON OFFICE CHANGED OUR CULTURE

Walking into Tekron in 2016, a NZ technology company specialising in precision-based timing solutions around the world, it was really clear things would need to change if we were to achieve the high-growth vision we had planned. I knew we had to work creatively to attract the right people and where they felt inspired to come to work each day.

The first thing we did was change the physical environment. We moved the team into new premises opposite the Petone foreshore, fitted out the office to reflect the hi-tech company we are, and the outcomes were outstanding.

 This is what you see when you walk in - a great place to work and also relax or eat

This is what you see when you walk in - a great place to work and also relax or eat

FEATURES INCLUDED:

● A bright office space with a stunning sea views,

● An interior design reflective of our company and values,

● Locally sourced wing-back armchairs to invite our staff to feel comfortable working away from their desks,

● A green room with grass,

● Working and resting spaces for employees,

● Casual and formal meeting rooms,

● Breakout spaces for people to work in comfort rather than at a desk,

● Imagery on the walls to provide motivation and different emotions to get them to think differently,

● Exterior and interior space complete with individual lockers and storage for bikes (and showers),

● Desk space dedicated to innovation with whiteboards and boards to show off projects.

 The Lounge - the most popular meeting room

The Lounge - the most popular meeting room

THE 10 OUTCOMES WE EXPERIENCED

1) Cultural change – we see more teamwork as there are more spaces to work collaboratively. Casual clothing and branded t-shirts also rolled out at the same time which made us feel less stuffy and formal.

2) More innovative thinking - that was outside our core competencies.

3) Kick-started change - in better systems – and staff feel that they have more of a “voice” and are now not afraid to have a say.

4) More personable and fun - Morning teas used to be sitting at a table and playing cards. Now we have a large TV and big kitchen space where we invite outside speakers, to come in and inspire the team.  We have instigated a member from our team to present (weekly) things about themselves and this has been a huge win for us and as such the whole team knows more about each other and are also better trained on the industries we are in.

5) More discussions - Most desks are stand up and so this provides for more discussion – it seems that when people are standing they talk to each other more. We have more laptops than ever and so the workforce move about more and work in different locations in the office during the day

6) We get feedback regularly - on how friendly the team is to visitors and how welcoming this space is. This is possibly because the kitchen is what you walk into, a space that is light and open.

7) Less sickness - is the biggest winner from a financial perspective. Newer air conditioning systems and LED lights have made a real difference.

8) More flexibility - we’ve found that people are happy to stay later in the new office whether to work or just socialise. We also have very flexible hours and most people take advantage of this. I think we win as they do more hours. Some start very early and others start late and we do not mind. We also have a lot more part-time staff and the culture and offices have supported this change too. (We had only one meeting room at the old offices so catching up was hard) now we have plenty of places to sit and talk. As such people can come and go more freely as they have more freedom to work together.

9) Recruitment became a whole lot easier - The difference to recruitment can’t be underestimated, we now attract a more diverse workforce (more women) than ever before (we went from just two to seven), and we are getting a reputation for having a cool space as we all tell our story out there. I believe this will be the biggest contributor – we will continue to attract better staff.

10) More active - Bike stands and showers mean that staff are able to be more active, which of course contributes to better health and happiness overall!

11) Pride in our place – I know I said there were 10, but here’s a bonus one. Our marketing executive Rob Smith says “We now have an office that people love to show off to their friends and family, and we didn’t have to put in a spiral slide to do it. The extra boost in staff morale of working somewhere we’re proud to be a part of is huge.”

 Innovation is encouraged and risk taking is needed to get those ideas off the ground

Innovation is encouraged and risk taking is needed to get those ideas off the ground

SO, SHOULD YOU DO IT?

Yes! Creating an appropriate work space changes the culture and makes a difference and it doesn't need to be an expensive fit-out either - we used residential grade and second hand office furniture which has been cost effective.

 

MY ADVICE:

● Create nooks and meeting rooms with comfort and business mixed up.

● Large murals make a huge difference – we used photos, but you can get local artists to create as well.

● Mix standing and sitting.

● Bike storage and lockers are a must too!

 

Do you have a great office? I’d love to see it!

 Our view from the Kitchen area over the Wellington Harbour

Our view from the Kitchen area over the Wellington Harbour