Workplace research is an area of my job that interests me greatly. Recently, I’ve become intrigued with the topic of how a company’s brand, culture, and workspace interact. I want answers to questions like: Is it necessary for a company’s culture to align with their brand?  If so, how does a company attract and retain employees who share their values and keep them engaged? How do furniture and space planning impact a company’s culture and brand? And how does all of this come together to help a client achieve their business goals?

I am certainly not the only one interested in this subject; our clients are increasingly asking us for answers to these very same questions. The more I read, the more I believe that for a company to achieve their long-term business goals, they must make sure their internal company culture is aligned with their external brand and that both are alive and well in their workspace. Here’s why:

Your company’s culture is visible even to those who don’t work for you. Today, thanks to the internet and social media, it is virtually impossible to hide information from the public. Job seekers now have access to the inside scoop about a company through resources like Glassdoor, a website consulted by almost half of all job seekers regarding company reviews. For consumers, there are virtually unlimited ways to tell the masses about an experience with a company, such as Google and Yelp reviews or posting on Facebook and Twitter.  That means every single person in your workforce must, as we say at encompas, “drink the Kool-Aid.” They must live and breathe your company values and culture. When they don’t, it shines through in their interactions with the public and negates your brand message. In today’s world, your company culture (what happens inside) now contributes to your brand (your outward message).

Zappos, the internet retail giant known for their creativity and incredible customer service, recognized this and created a four-week training program about their company culture, strategy, and processes, during which the new hires are presented “The Offer:” walk away from the job and get $2,000 cash-in-hand. Zappos’ culture is their brand. By weeding out people present simply to earn a paycheck, Zappos ensures they’re hiring employees committed to their values and culture who will remain engaged in the brand. Study after study tells us that employees who are engaged are happier and healthier, collaborate and innovate at a higher rate, and are more productive – all things that positively affect your bottom line.

One way to increase engagement is through your office space. Employee engagement happens in many ways, just one of which is using workplace design to promote and communicate culture, brand, and performance goals. For instance, one of Target’s core beliefs is that great design should be fun, energetic, surprising, and smart. To demonstrate this belief in their stores, Target carries products through strategic partnerships with makeup artists like Sonia Kashuk, fashion designers like Jason Wu, and interior decorators like Nate Berkus. In the same way, they demonstrate this in their corporate offices through beautifully designed and playful interiors which are unmistakably branded as Target.

Target Office, NYC | Source:  Office Snapshots

Target Office, NYC | Source: Office Snapshots

Yet another central belief present in Target’s culture is the celebration of friendly, fun collaboration. What does this look like to Target? If their headquarters is any indication, it looks awesome. Housed within its walls is Target Plaza Commons, a giant, informal, and flexible meeting space that is filled with comfy lounge chairs, a life-size chess board, an outdoor fire pit, and even a gaming and video area where team members can meet to bounce ideas off each other or blow off steam from a stressful day.

Target Plaza Commons, Minneapolis | Source:  ArchPaper

Target Plaza Commons, Minneapolis | Source: ArchPaper

Successful office spaces don’t happen by chance – you need a trusted partner who can combine workplace strategy, research, trends, and interiors knowledge by your side. That’s where we come in. When we are allowed to truly partner with you and your design firm from the beginning of the design process, we come to fully understand your brand, business goals, and desired culture. From that understanding, we create a tailored furniture solution which encourages behavior that promotes your values and supports the way you want work to happen at your company.  

When you have engaged employees doing the right job in the right space you start seeing results. The stars align. You have engaged employees who live and breathe your values, culture, and brand. They are doing a job they love for a company they love in a space that allows them to do their work efficiently, effectively, and in the style of the company culture.

Can you tell I nerd out on this research stuff?  If you want more information on this topic, or even to grab a coffee and talk nerdy with me, feel free to email me at at any time!