by Phil Birss
3 min read
Branded workspaces that impress clients and retain staff
Author: Phil Birss
Posted in Marketing on 15th December 2017 9:00 am
A company’s brand is a set of ideas, logos and styles that appear in print and digital and that guide product design, but – for the most part – have a limited footprint in reality. That said, many companies work to impart their values on their staff and, what’s more, they can also imprint their brand identity on the physical space that they occupy.
Indeed, realising their principles in the real world can be highly conducive to sharing them, and to shaping the corporate culture. If the features of the space make this impossible, however, then it may indicate that these stated values are merely superficial.
In the context of the workspace, the business must cater to both clients and staff. From the perspective of customers, the space should speak to the general tone of the brand – an international bank may want to communicate its scale with a grand, sweeping lobby, for example, while a financial technology contender might prefer to welcome visitors with a compact and fashionably decked out atrium. At the same time, both companies are likely to prominently display their logos within the space and to consider how decorations and artwork fit into their design aesthetic and their brand colour palette. If the physical setting looks scruffy, meanwhile, then it could suggest a business in trouble.
However, there’s much more to a workspace than the superficial aspects put on display for guests. While vinyl graphics and the style of furniture will make a difference to the feel of a space, they don’t extend to the real functionality of the office. For example, should you opt for an open-plan floorspace? If so, are there sufficient spaces to work quietly in isolation? Is hot-desking appropriate or do staff require designated work stations? And what kind of meetings spaces are available – both for internal use and for presenting to clients?
These questions require the company to settle on a point somewhere between flexibility and openness, and rigidity and privacy – but such decisions make a huge difference to the working life of staff. Indeed, many workers actively hate open-plan designs due to the fact that they’re noisy and because they have no alternative facilities on offer – so making private calls or getting work done in peace is impossible. It’s all very well for the team to be ‘all in it together’, but not if that means that they can’t do their jobs.
Form and customer-centricity
In its early years, Amazon underlined its principle of customer-centricity by manufacturing desks out of recycled doors – the company would do anything to pass savings on to the customer. Moreover, many of Amazon’s advances came in the optimisation of its supply chain – creating so-called ‘fulfilment centres’ that would handle and direct inventory with supreme efficiency, so much so that other retailers would pass their own stock through them.
Apple is another business that has emphasised the connections between enhanced form and functionality – and this can be seen as much in their retail outlets as anywhere else. Stylishly designed and featuring sparsely-placed products, they have the vibe of belonging to a high-end retailer, but are packed with people, using the hardware for free internet services. After all, providing high-end electronics for the masses is perhaps Apple’s crowning achievement.
Cost vs benefit
In terms of business accounting, office space is relatively cheap compared to staff salaries. There’s little doubt, therefore, that it pays handsomely to invest in a work environment that makes staff comfortable and that helps them to get their work done. A full 91% of workers believe that their workspace has an impact on their productivity – while nearly 60% of UK staff feel their employers could make the office a healthier environment. Clearly there’s room for improvement for businesses that claim to champion the happiness of their staff.
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