#1 Posted: 8 Jun 2012 09:11
How would you picture the ideal work space for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI)? I recently had the opportunity to work with this organization that supports its members (customers) who run dive centers and resorts around the world, and its offices were perfectly suited for its function in addition to the well-being of its employees. As I toured the offices in Southern California after presenting a customer service speech, I noted that the walls were painted blue, like the ocean, and decorated with large pictures of its members SCUBA diving. There is a pool where employees can practice diving — or just relax — as well as exercise bikes and a nice locker room so the employees can shower and change if they work out or use the pool during lunch time.
Pedro's Planet is an office supply company that specializes in environmentally conscious office products. Its owners, Peter McMillan and Chuck Pass, are sincerely dedicated to recycling and it shows in their company culture, even in their office furniture — the desks are made from recycled materials. The company's favorite holiday? Earth Day, of course, the annual celebration that reminds us to be "green."
Instead of "reinventing the wheel" in terms of office design, Zappos.com makes use of traditional cubicles for its employees. However, the tone of the company is apparent given that the CEO and other executives are not separated, tucked away in private offices. They work in cubicles as well, right in the center of the building.
What do these companies have in common? The environment in which the employees work in is tune with the culture of the business. The physical setting enhances the culture and positively impacts the interaction of the employees.
Consider how the work environment sets the tone for various kinds of businesses. My lawyer's office houses conference rooms with large wood tables. Everyone working there wears conservative business attire. It's expected.
An ad agency that specializes in social media presents a different environment. The focus on creativity is apparent. As I entered the office, the combination of the lighting, the colors of the carpet and walls, the overall feeling was like walking onto a Star Wars set. It felt right and it worked.
Consider ways to accentuate the culture of your company. It may not require a pool or a locker room — the change can be large or small, as long as it makes the right statement. It might mean knocking down a wall, or painting it, or just hanging a picture on it. The important thing is making the right statement for your company, your employees and your customers.