Why your office fit-out is all about culture

There are lots of reasons to nurture the right culture, which has been shown to correlate with an additional 21% profit.* At a strategic level, any copy of HBR or McKinsey Quarterly will agree “culture eats business strategy for breakfast.”

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Aside from the profit potential, at a personal level, well, who likes working in a toxic culture? If you’ve worked in a great culture, you’ll never want to work anywhere else.

What many cultural change initiatives miss is that the components that make up a culture are ‘anchored’ to the physical environment in powerful ways. People’s habits, routines, and emotions are all associated with spaces - a routine coffee here with colleagues, a feeling that ‘we’re not really welcome over that corner’, or the mysterious power of a door, a wall, or an elevator to separate people from ever interacting at all.

Are space and culture a strange combination?

Space and culture might sound like an odd combination. Space - that is, workspace - is concrete and tangible: tables, chairs, walls, kitchens and corridors, all touchable, definable, and of course designable.

In fact, culture can also be broken down into simple elements, and can also be designed.

Space and culture are so closely interconnected that any change in space is intrinsically a change in culture.

A Change in Space is a Change in Culture

In the context of an office move, new fit-out, or space renovation, there is a valuable chance to reset these associations, and alter the parts of the built environment that were exerting negative influences.

Ideally, a re-alignment can occur together, between the physical space, technology, and the expectations that people bring to the space.

On the matter of expectations, a change to space holds a precious opportunity, because nothing makes people pay attention more than a move! In the midst of an office move, business leaders have a rare opportunity where everyone is paying attention, everyone is listening, and no one is checking their phone.

An office change can be associated with a narrative of change, or even of transformation. Like moving house, the new environment represents a new era, and a perfect chance to embrace new patterns of thought, emotion and behaviour.

Introducing ‘Touchline’

Amicus is a ‘Design and Construction’ firm that started addressing the connections between space and culture five years ago. We built a consulting tool called ‘Touchline’ that helps identify a desired culture and the changes to the environment to achieve that culture.

When we applied our tool to ourselves, we started winning awards for cultural success.

As we’ve applied the tool for our clients in the context of a move to a new environment, we’ve seen an average 24% enhancement on cultural engagement scores, across categories as diverse as collaboration, innovation, and productivity.

Think Global, Act Local

Touchline is a tool not just for each unique new fit out but can be a method used to address the challenges faced by global organisations in driving a consistent workplace culture across borders and language.

The strategy and principles can be applied across multiple sites to catalyze those activities and experiences necessary for success in a global economy. They become a non-verbal language that unites people regardless of location.

Amicus works with our clients to define, design and deliver with inspirational spaces that invigorate and energise people and entire organisations.

To learn more, contact www.amicusgroup.co.nz or Alex Mercer

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