How the working environment impacts on business & culture - Preparing you for the future of work.

How the working environment impacts on business & culture

Much has been made of the rise of the mobile or ‘remote’ workforce, where employees are allowed to work from home or an environment of their choice on occasion.

Increasingly, the workplace is no longer the sole location for work, but a pivotal hub among numerous locations in which work occurs.

There are a number of reasons for this; personal (an employee who needs to manage periodic home or family situations); productivity (a staff member who has an important task to complete with a tight deadline and is seeking to minimize distraction); and even practical (avoiding traffic or a long commute by working from home or another location), among others.

Notwithstanding these special circumstances, there’s no denying that an on-site workforce remains the current norm and can play a key role in the success of a business. It is believed that employers could be deriving increased value from their employees – and vice versa – if more consideration was given to the working environment. 

Environment & employee engagement

Employee wellbeing is integral to performance, and a relatively minor shift in environment can have a major impact on an employee’s mindset. Employees who revel in their working environments will be more engaged, happy and ultimately productive.

There is significant data to support this. According to the Harvard Business Review, "Happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome: increasing sales by 37 percent, productivity by 31 percent and task accuracy by 19 percent, as well as a myriad of health and quality of life improvements."

Another workplace study by Gensler shows that "providing an optimal work environment is an opportunity to improve business performance, engage employees, and drive innovation and the productive spread of ideas." With changing work, life, and economic drivers to stay relevant and tailored

To effectively drive performance, an environment must advance with changing work, life and economic drivers to stay relevant and tailored to the needs of not only the business, but also the employee.

Marrying values with working environment

Our purpose is to Bringing Value to Life – not only to our customers, community and stakeholders – but also to our employees. We believe that workspace design not only reflects culture, it but also drives culture, and should therefore be aligned with company values.

Our space is also needed to reflect our personality, nurture a sense of ‘fun’, while still facilitating business efficacy.

The campus and offices were to demonstrate Ackermans’ positioning as a value retailer, but also to reflect their fashion-forward focus. To take it a step further, we even incorporated our product as part of the design process; giving different floors in our building relevant themes and naming our meeting rooms after fabrics.

Collaboration versus quiet 

Collaboration was a key consideration. We incorporated a number of spaces that would allow for pop-up meetings and effortless engagements.

We ultimately created a space that was light, airy and open to better facilitate teamwork, with the required privacy that enables necessary focus.

The Gensler study revealed that workplaces designed to enable collaboration without sacrificing employees’ ability to focus were more successful than those designed purely with collaboration in mind. The survey confirmed that ‘the proliferation of new social and mobile technologies has revolutionised how we create, share and communicate. Today’s world is connected like never before, but new connections mean new distractions and for many a compromised ability to focus.’

An environment conducive to team as well as individual work was "very important" to the retailer.

We sought to create a ‘balanced workspace’ that facilitated collaboration without sacrificing focus. This would allow employees to collaborate and share insights with their peers, but also ‘tune out’ when needs be.

Consider your environment

Company sustainability is not only about profit, but also footprint. Companies seeking genuine longevity need to consider their immediate environment and societal framework in which the business operates, taking these factors into consideration when envisioning their work space. ‘Is there opportunity to support local business? What are the immediate community’s most pressing needs or challenges? How can we empower and add value to our environment?’ are all questions companies should be asking.

As company culture differs from business to business, there is no one-size-fits-all office ideal. However, taking these factors into consideration will allow you to create a space that is a genuine reflection of your values, allowing the company’s purpose and culture to better permeate through the organisation.

Henke Naudé is the Properties Manager at leading value retailer Ackermans.

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