You’re a business owner. A CEO. A chief financial officer. Your plate is full, and you’ve got a lot on your mind, especially when it comes to company growth. You know your business – no matter how quickly it grows – must continue to fulfill its mission. To keep up, you and your colleagues have been talking about reinvesting in your space. Maybe your company is expanding, and you need a more creative configuration of space. Or maybe your office is outdated, and you need to increase efficiency and productivity. No matter the scenario, you want to ensure that a redesign has a return on investment. Here’s how to go about sharing the news and making the transition.
Remember the 1999 cult classic Office Space? In the film, two consultants are hired to interview employees at a software company. Because management was not fully open about the situation, employees made their own assumptions about streamlining and downsizing. Don’t put your employees in the same situation. Instead, be honest. “Talk about the importance of getting your staff behind the decision,” says interior designer Kathleen Lemaster. “Explain to everyone why you want to change. You need to be transparent, or else they won’t trust you.”
A redesign is a big change for everyone, so it’s important to stress that – while you’re giving up some things – the return will be great. It’s not about immediate returns; it’s about investing in your company long-term. About thinking through your real estate and how it can be used more efficiently. After all, reinventing how your office works is just as important as reducing costs. Just be sure to communicate with your staff. “Stay in tune with the energy of the office,” Kathleen says. “When you are transparent and truthful, you gain respect.”
Demonstrate that change must come from the top down.
When it comes to a redesign, leadership must talk about, support, advocate for it. This demonstrates to the staff that everyone is in it together. “When you move from a closed-off space with tall panels to one that is more open, your culture is going to change,” says Kathleen. “In order for the project to be successful, leadership has to believe in what they’re doing and why they are investing the money.”
Remember, neither the physical space nor the redesign process should be hierarchal. While a redesign should have a return on investment, it also should reflect what your business is all about. This Fortune article about Bay Area companies discusses the importance of culture, saying “the best workplaces consciously choose to build a strong and unique culture that helps outpace the competition and generate more revenues. Then, they reinvest the earnings in maintaining and growing their culture.”
Don’t overlook the details.
You’re investing in your culture. You’ve got the support of your employees. But what, truly, makes a new space successful? Details. What may seem “little” to you could be “big” to someone else. Like coats – do you put them on coat racks, and if so, where are the coat racks located? Does the break room or social hub area have bowls of fresh fruit available? And what about the newspaper – is it okay to flip through it while seated on one of the social hub couches?
As the leader of your company, it’s up to you to make your office a destination. Kathleen suggests incorporating a variety of spaces for people to work and socialize – from coffee bars to quiet workspaces to lounge areas. “Each distinct space supports the task at hand, whether it’s a phone call, team meeting, or focused work,” she says. By incorporating different spaces, employees are able to choose the one that feels “right.” This lends to a more relaxed feel. And when employees are comfortable in their environment, they can be more productive and inclined to stay with the company. So, go ahead. Invest in your space. If employees are energized and encouraged – and are treated as equals in the design process – your investment will be worth it.
Thinking about your space and how it might benefit from a redesign or reconfiguration? Contact Kathleen Lemaster at 317.264.8162 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.