From pool tables to plants, many companies believe beautiful and creative office surroundings can have a positive impact on productivity – but others say it’s all about the people. We ask two business leaders to debate if office environments really have an effect on company culture?
In smaller companies especially, we have to incentivise staff in other ways than simply with remuneration. Top candidates expect ever-more creative working environments, and something that may seem immediately superficial – the design of an office – can have a hugely positive effect on working culture.
The teams at Pi Labs in east London have comfortable, glowing, open spaces, miles away from the harsh strip-lit, cubicle offices most of us grew up working in. Great design creates a happier workforce and represents the values and brand of a company to staff and visitors.
Having spaces where staff can unwind or chat are important parts of the modern day workplace. At Pi Labs, there is a tech-free space with a small indoor hanging garden where meditation classes take place daily. Initiatives like this prevent workplace stress building up, and improve face-to-face communication, which is so vital in our email-dependent age.
About a decade ago, foosball tables and even office slides were all the rage in cool workplaces. These were fun and whacky, but perhaps self-indulgent and distracting in a work environment. Today we’re seeing a move to more beneficial fun incentives – like coding lessons and yoga sessions. These present an opportunity for people to let their hair down at work while learning new skills – ‘the new team building’ for today’s ambitious workers. @FaisalButt_
No, says Dale Lovell, content and publishing director at native advertising business Adyoulike
An office has very little effect on company culture. What is far more important is the people. I’ve spent the majority of my career working at start-ups; the offices have always been basic, often over-crowded affairs – and I’ve loved it. These start-ups have flourished into successful digital companies and have grown far beyond their humble beginnings: we always had big ambitions and we certainly were not restricted by the office environment in striving to achieve them.
The office environment comes to reflect the company culture – but it doesn’t decide it. For example, those aforementioned cramped conditions nurtured a camaraderie and can-do attitude that you just don’t get in bigger corporate offices. But it wasn’t the office environment that led to this – it was the people. Helping each other, striving to succeed.
In start-ups you have more freedom in your role, more direct interaction with the leaders of the business – often dynamic entrepreneurs that inspire you – as well as interaction between departments: when working well it’s like you’re all aboard a ship, heading in the same direction. And when you work with people like this, on projects like this, you tend to ignore the office environment itself: who has the bigger desk or that funky sofa in the breakout room. These are nice to have, but do not a company culture make. @Adyoulike
Do office surroundings affect company culture? Let us know your views