How Does Office Space Play a Role in Organizational Culture?
Is focusing on organizational culture important? Indeed it is and this is how office space plays an important role.
Want to know what role your office space plays when it comes to your organizational culture? You have landed in the right space.
First, let’s discuss what organizational culture actually is.
What is Organizational Culture?
Culture is essentially defined as a set of shared behaviors, beliefs, and values. It can be expressed via cultural artifacts such as a language, pieces of art, and objects of everyday life. Organizational culture represents a set of attitudes, values, and behaviors of a particular organization.
Types of Organizational Culture
Let’s discuss the four key types of organizational culture:
This essentially represents an organization that is categorized by internal focus and flexibility. The culture focuses on doing things together. Essentially, the organization focuses on human relations, collaboration, and working towards shared goals. More often than usual, such organizations are some kind of family-owned business and the idol generally takes on the role of a mentor.
This represents flexibility and external focus. The company explores a culture that is aimed at doing new things, is focused on developing newer ideas, is appreciative of experimentation, and is risk-taking. Essentially, the idol of exploring culture is a visionary.
Organize Culture is characterized by stability and internal focus. The culture is focused on doing things right and shows a huge preference for well-defined processes, clear task distribution, and organization. Such organizations strive for quality, and excellence and have extreme respect for hierarchies. They see a problem solver as their idol.
This category of an organization is represented by stability and external focus. The culture is aimed at doing things fast, scaling ideas, and bringing ideas to the market. They see a salesperson or a maker as their ideal.
Types of Organizational Culture and Their Relation to the Workspace
It is important to note how an organization’s culture reflects on the design of the workspace. Let’s dive deeper:
As the collaborative culture sets a high value on the relationship between the coworkers, it is important to have a workspace that is in alignment with that vision. An open-plan office structure that comes with a lot of meeting opportunities, lounge areas, meeting spots, shared desks, and coffee nooks would greatly favor such organizations.
With all the benefits, it is important to note that every individual needs some alone time for contemplation and focused thinking. Too many open spaces will definitely result in raised noise levels and increased distraction.
We know that a very important part of exploring culture is experimentation and playfulness. Individuals working in explore culture are always on the lookout for new ideas. This calls for a workspace with a lot of inspirational material, tools, and insights, that are visible. Think spaces with whiteboards, standing tables, games, tinker areas, and toys! Generally, such office spaces are quite colorful, modern, and fancy furniture.
While all of these elements inspire creativity, the slightly chaotic atmosphere can lead to mess and noise generation which can lead to distraction and a lack in quality/depth of developed solutions.
Such organizations are more traditional and hierarchical that the others. They highly value excellence and quality. These attributes are often reflected in the workspace as well. Workspaces are generally well-maintained. There is always a facilitator who ensures everything is in order, coffee is filled, plants are watered, and everything is at the right place when you need it. The furniture in such spaces is typical of very high quality.
Essentially, the overall environment is very functional. You will see signs and labels that indicate which tasks to perform and when. Think of a space that has names, designations, and creative mission statements. The downside is that such organizations don’t leave room for individual experimentation which is sometimes needed for growth.
Achieve culture is market-oriented. The focus is on bringing existing data to the market, scaling it for success instead of developing new ideas. The workspace doesn’t essentially support collaboration. As a result of that, you will find small, individual offices and cubicles, and spaces for professional workshops that are far away from other offices to eliminate distraction.
The downside is that such spaces lack individual creative flavor and can lead to a lack of creative collaboration. Similarly, experimentation isn’t welcomed which can be problematic for any organization in the long run.
The Bottom Line
More often than not, a company cannot be categorized to strictly follow one of the four cultures. It is often a combination of many different types. While one type is definitely more dominant than the other, other types do blend into the mix of organization.
Moreover, the culture and workspace are similar to the chicken and egg problem. Which one came first and what influences the other? Here is what we think:
Culture is Often Reflected in the Workspace
The workspace is essentially an expression of the culture of your organization. It will not only reflect work modes but will also impact people’s behaviors. If the company’s culture is exploratory, the surrounded spaced will be shaped by people who like to work in an experimental manner.
On the other hand, if the culture is organized, the space will be shaped by careful behavior and facilitation. Similarly, creative people will create a creative environment. Whatever the culture is, it will be reflected in your workspace.
Workspace Shapes The Culture of Organization
Similar to the previous discussion, the design of the workspace can and will influence the behaviors, working styles, and attitudes of people. If your workspace comes with a sofa, coffee station, and lounge, people are more bound to socialize. If there are plenty of whiteboards, and team furniture, there is room for collaboration and sharing of ideas.
Similarly, a rough and cheap interior will provoke experimentation and quick prototyping. If the office space comes with separate offices and cubicles, there is not much room left for collaboration.
The workspace can be a great support if it is alignment with the culture of your organization. That is why it is important to select a space that matches your goals. What is your insight about this topic? What has your experience been like in working with organizations with different cultures and office spaces? We would love to know your thoughts.