An office built by culture
The workplace is influenced by the culture of work. In both design and architecture, contemporary workplaces reflect the distinctive needs of those workers who inhabit them. Diverse corporate cultures can be seen in the vast office landscapes that define our cities. Grand buildings topped with futurist flare, vibrant lobbies lined with sophisticated décor, open-plan offices packed with new technologies – each speaks for the current state of the modern working world and its population of modern workers.
The attitudes of a company are manifest in the décor and colours that that make up its space. Its ethos can be gleaned through the layout and practicality of its deskspace. Furthermore, exactly how their employees feel about work depends partly on the building they inhabit.
Business culture is always changing. So the buildings designed to harbour and cultivate these businesses are changing too. As our attitudes about ‘why we work’ and ‘how we work’ change, so too does our concept of ‘where we work’. In what follows, we’ll be looking at how company culture influences office design in 2018, starting with a defining aspect of modern working…
Corporate culture used to be a stuffy affair. One defined by formality, tradition, and rigidity. These old concepts are represented by the office cubicle: a confined space designed without communication or comfort in mind. They were initially designed with the intention of offering workers a private and functional space that they could call theirs. But on the contrary, many workers have come to see the cubicle as a sort of cage, restricting their individual freedom in the name of order and discipline.
Advancements in office culture since have given rise to more open and less restricted designs. Just look at the London-based offices of modern companies like Google, ASOS, and Airbnb. These office interiors break out of cubicle walls and even forego the restrictions of desk space, instead allowing employees to work however and wherever they like. Large communal kitchens, spacious desks, plenty of comfy seating, open space designed for meeting and socialising – each of these features accommodate the flexible demands made by today’s corporate culture.
Businesses are exploring reasonable alternatives to the institutionalist office cultures of old (cultures marked by suits and ties, 9-to-5 work days, and strict hierarchies). Consequently, designers must seek alternatives to the rigid and static workplaces that came with such cultures. Workplaces in tune with a 21st century work ethic. Designs that reflect the flexibility of workers. Interiors that don’t place any limitations on the ways people choose to work. Not just a trend, flexible working is now manifest in the way offices are built, designed, furnished, and used.
Climate change and global warming now form a large part of the public consciousness. As such, it’s more important than ever for companies to do their bit for the environment and promote greener lifestyles. This extends beyond their business practices and into their company culture. A more eco-friendly company often leads to a more eco-friendly office with ample green space, loads of potted plants, indoor gardens, natural light, and sustainable materials.
The benefit of such designs is not only on the earth. They also encourage greener practices, project a more conscious public image, and reduce the cost of overheads for a given company. And that’s not to mention the health benefits of plants and their positive effects on air quality. Workforces are seeking companies with strong morals, and companies of all sizes are starting to favour environmentalist practices. Next time you see an office with living walls and plant pots, think about these exciting changes in corporate culture.
An increasing amount of workers are now expecting their office lives to come with certain perks, and companies are therefore more inclined to mix work and play through their office designs. Generally speaking, the workplace has started to embrace the social aspect of working life. Moan if you wish, but table tennis tables, dart boards, communal areas, and coffee bars are mainstays of alternative office design. They reflect an influx of more ‘friendly’ companies who project a more approachable and sociable image – what better way to solidify this image than by having a bit of fun on your lunch break?
These design features may also result from a wider corporate culture that pays more attention to the wellbeing of workers. Most people know that an employee’s work life is not just about desks, phone calls, computers, and meetings. Employers are now accommodating the less ‘professional’ aspects of working by embracing offices that aren’t just designed to improve work, but also to improve wellbeing.
Here at Uncommon, we care about how you feel at work. Our coworking spaces are designed with your wellbeing in mind. Every single detail helps create an environment in which you can feel good about your work. Visit Uncommon in Fulham, Highbury & Islington, and Borough to experience our unique vision of working life.