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Workplace Design and Strategy
February 28th, 2017

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Office branding strengthens your company's relationship with employees, communicates your values, inspires trust, and helps drive success. As an example, when you think of McDonald's, what's the first thing that comes to mind? 

Maybe you picture the golden arches or think of Ronald McDonald. Maybe you remember your first happy meal or suddenly have a strong urge to eat some fries.

Do you know what separates great brands from the average ones? It’s not just the imagery shown on commercials, billboards, and social media ads. It's what happens under the surface.

It is the employees and company values — and how they embody those values. Great workplace branding bolsters your ability to support the company mission in a way that resonates with your employees. 

Why is workplace branding so important?

Building a brand with a true competitive edge can be difficult. Workplace branding, however, helps redefine what that edge means. 

From a business perspective, your employees play a huge role in your success. The reality is that your brand can provide employees with a sense of pride and belonging. Workplace branding helps accomplish that and more.

A good office design helps support and create company culture. When employees believe in your values, commit to your mission, and are loyal to your brand, success will naturally follow. 

Design is all around

Many elements of design play a big role in their experience at work — things such as aesthetics, atmosphere, comfort, flexibility, personalization, and emotional response. 

People are becoming more aware of design in their everyday life. It's all around: in things they see, products they use, and everywhere they go — including the workplace.  

As awareness increases among those who spend time in your office — from your employees and clients, to your investors — it is increasingly important for you to implement strategic office design.

Office branding and workplace design go hand-in-hand

In our Workplace Branding & Design webinar, design veteran Timaree Later discusses how office design plays a role in workplace branding — and vice versa. As she states, it's about leaders "really owning the culture first and foremost and showing their company and their people how to live that brand and culture, which really creates a sense of buy-in."

Thinking of it more broadly, it's the integration of your brand, culture, vision, mission, and the design process. You should incorporate and emphasize workplace branding in your office design. Here are the three key reasons:

  1. To reinforce company culture and brand
    Your brand isn’t just your logo or website. It’s the attitude and personality of your company. It represents what your company stands for and how you want to be presented. Your office environment should be an extension of your brand through event and product promotion, company goals, and tools you already use — like digital conference room displays. Daily reinforcement makes a big impact on anyone who spends time there — including them as part of your brand and culture.
  2. To boost employee productivity and morale
    People want to be comfortable while they work. When they come into work, they want to feel like they're surrounded by family and friends. That helps make work feel more comfortable, especially since they spend most of their waking hours there. According to a recent report, 71% of employees feel more comfortable working from home compared to in an office. And there are many studies linking office design, comfort, and productivity. 
    When you walk around Chicago, everywhere you look you'll see someone in red and blue Cubs gear. Fans don hats, jerseys, and practically any item with their team logo because it makes them feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves. Team identification fosters a sense of belonging, which in turn benefits an individual's well-being, social interaction, and self-esteem.
    The same needs to happen with your workplace branding. The design and tools you use should create a sense of community and make your employees feel comfortable, which then makes them work harder.
  3. To help recruit and retain great employees
    For the workplace, R&R isn't rest and relaxation; it's recruit and retain. Workplace branding isn’t just about pleasing current employees. You have to look good to outsiders, too. Anyone who steps into your office should have a sense of what the brand values are.
    Ideally the company culture will attract the people who connect to it. So it's helpful to create good buzz, word of mouth, and also give people a branded visual experience inside your office. Then, people who are in the office can get a sense of place. Plus, it can help avoid any disconnect or disappointment with your brand. 

When we talk about connecting your brand with the workplace, it's about backing your values up with the decisions you make, actions you take, and things you provide. Employees will naturally connect and engage with your company when you project and reaffirm those values. And if that's well executed in your office design, it puts your brand in a stronger position.

How to Brand Your Workplace

Too often, companies think painting walls company colors and slapping a few graphics on windows of your company logo is all it takes. But that’s not effective branding. It’s just decorating.

There's a difference between amenities, culture, and activated spaces. 

 

 

 

Later in the webinar, there's an important point about amenities, culture, and activated spaces. It's not simply a question of what perks to provide for a stronger company culture, because as Timaree mentions, "offering those amenities does not build a culture."

At the end of the day, employees need to feel connected to something, which relies largely on emotional experiences.  People engage when the environment creates a positive experience — and to things that make us feel happy, intelligent, effective, useful, or connected. 

As Brian Brindisi, senior associate and design director at Gensler, said in an interview with Metropolis, “A good brand does more than establish a visual language; it creates an immersive experience for every person who enters their workplace. ... Today, everyone wants to work in spaces that closely mirror a particular lifestyle and makes them feel engaged, valued and connected to a company.”

If you don't understand how how to improve workplace experience, you need to start thinking in terms of connection. Improve the workplace with your employees in mind — and do it in a way that reinforces company values. Most importantly, connect those values with every aspect of your business.

Here’s how you can do all that.

  1. Create custom images to promote upcoming events and product releases.
    Holiday party happening next month? Your latest gadget being released in a couple weeks? Whatever it is, broadcast it with appealing images scattered throughout the office. These images remind employees to attend the event and get them excited to be a part of such a fun, hardworking culture. It also shows potential employees your company culture is one they want to be involved with, whether that’s having fun through quarterly LAN parties or giving back through charity events, and seeing how amazing your products are. It can also be a way to express gratitude to everyone involved with getting a product released. You can do all these things with Teem’s Broadcast feature, which lets administrators set and display customized messages to communicate with the entire office.
  2. Highlight employees and teams.
    If you want satisfied and engaged employees, recognize them. A 2015 study found that 70% who had received a form of recognition were happy with their jobs, and another found that publicly highlighting an employee increased all employees’ sense that their employer cared about them. Invest in employee recognition software to keep on top of recognizing and rewarding employees. Hold celebrations, however big or small you want, to highlight individuals and teams who have gained a new client, hit a goal, etc. You can also have fun highlighting employees with custom image themes, or set employee of the month pictures as the background on your conference room displays.
  3. Reiterate company goals.
    How you communicate your brand reflects your company’s culture and values. This is especially evident in your office design. There's another thing to add: Company goals. Company goals create unity and internal motivation. As part of your visual workplace branding, remind employees of your goals and tell clients and investors what they can expect from you. Visualization leads to achieving goals. So put these goals on screens in office common rooms or on your walls using temporary graphics. Whatever you do, make them easy to visualize.

Employees expect to have all the tools and resources they need to do their job and do it well. A branded workplace is one of those tools. Incorporating workplace branding into your office is more than just trendy decor or quirky amenities. Remember to make your workplace a reflection of your brand, products, and the office space itself. When you take that approach, you'll be creating a space that informs guests, inspires employees, and aligns with your culture.

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