Does Your Workspace Embrace the True Essence of Your Business?
I remember the pride I felt after redecorating my room at age 11. It was so ‘me’. My room became a sanctuary of everything I admired, believed in and aspired to. Even today, when I sometimes visit my old room, I have warm fuzzy feelings. I feel ‘at home’.
You may have had similar experiences yourself, or watched your children immersing themselves in creating their own quirky spaces. It is so rewarding to have a place to go to that feels true to who you are.
Nevertheless, when it comes to setting up our own work environments, we tend to forget that this place could mean something more to us than just a location for getting stuff done, or that it could become an expression of our personal and business brand.
You may wonder, ‘I only have a small office. Why should I worry about showing off my brand all over my workplace?’
This is a valid question. Many people see the brand as a carefully crafted image used in marketing to make a company’s products or services look desirable to the market. However, this old view of branding will not take you very far today, when your customers and team members want to build genuine relationships with your business, rather than just seeing a pretty facade.
Your brand is not just an identity that you show to the world. It is more about the personality of your business: who you truly are, what’s important to you, what you believe in, and how you make people feel. Try to think of it as the best version of yourself and your team – perhaps the part of you which is optimistic, confident, focused and in flow.
I’m sure you see why it’s a good idea to work in an environment every day that embodies the qualities you value, and constantly reminds you of who you strive to be. You don’t need to be Apple, Google, or a major bank to benefit from a branded workspace.
How much difference does your office look really make?
Your workspace has a voice, and it speaks to you and about you, whether you’re conscious of it or not.
I once surveyed the employees of a dynamic start-up about how they felt about their work environment. It was, I must say, a typical, very much unloved space with random pieces of boring furniture thrown together to accommodate the fast-growing team. There were no nice things in the office, as if the company could only afford the bare necessities.
Employees had interesting impressions. They felt the space suggested that the organisation lacked confidence and didn’t believe in its own success. And although employees loved the company, their working patterns were as ad hoc as the space itself, disorganised and inefficient.
I’m not saying that the perfect office space will magically transform your operation and culture, but it can help you and your team work with more focus and feel more in charge. You know how you hold yourself differently in a smart outfit, as opposed to wearing your pyjamas for a business call. Well, your office space has the same effect. It’s your third skin.
So what’s the recipe?
Let me make it clear first – expressing your brand through your office environment is not about painting your walls to your brand colours or writing your mission statement on the walls. These ‘solutions’ are harmless semantics at best.
An interesting method is to depict your business as a real life person – with its own personality traits, attitudes, hobbies, dress sense, and so on – and then design the space for that person. As far-fetched as it sounds, I’ve seen serious companies creating amazing workplaces with this single strategy.
If your business persona loves change, make your space easy to change around. If he or she loves simplicity, keep the space clean and simple. And if that person is really creative or has brilliant humour, get that across in your office space. The walls are a blank canvas.
Remember, your workspace doesn’t need to be expensive or sleek. It needs to feel authentic, and reflect who you are and want to be as a business.
Imagine going to a place every day that lifts you up. This will not only help you and your team members enjoy work more and love your business more. It will help you perform better both as individuals and as a team, and in turn, your business will love you back.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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