Open office spaces are pretty terrible.
At least according to a lot of research lately.
They’re loud, distracting and not private at all.
So why did they start in the first place? The most common reason was collaboration, innovation and speed of change.
But apparently the open office concept is not just magically making work environments all those things. Go figure.
I was listening to a keynote on Youtube recently given by Rich Sheridan, CEO of Menlo and author of the books Joy, Inc. and Chief Joy Officer.
In his talk, he addressed this issue.
You see, Menlo is highly regarded as an innovative, agile, successful software company. So much so it hosts several thousands of visitors from all different kinds of organizations ever year.
And one thing every visitor notice right away are the open work spaces.
Everyone then asks Rich how it can be so successful at Menlo but seemingly nowhere else?
Rich says in his talk the “we didn’t build an open and collaborative work space. We built an open and collaborative culture. Our work space is simply a reflection of our cultural values.”
Wow. That’s powerful.
So basically, what is happening is so many companies are simply going to open work spaces without any consideration for how that reflects their values and it’s not working.
Any company wanting to change some aspect of how it does business must take a more holistic view of their culture first and then look at things like work space, employee perks, rituals and habits of teams as supporting and reinforcing that culture.
I worked with one company that is a healthy fast casual food concept called Evergreens in Seattle. They’re on a mission to help Seattle be increasingly healthy by offering more healthy food options, especially while on the go, or lunch from work, etc.
And something great they’ve done is make their employee perks match this mission. As an example, they offer a free healthy shift meal for every employee working that day and they offer a $40 a month stipend to every employee to be applied towards whatever the employees wants and needs to specifically improve their health like a gym membership, yoga classes or trying to quit smoking.
See below to listen to a podcast with me and co-founder of Evergreens, Hunter Brooks, talk about company culture.
Otherwise, just by simply copying what some other company is doing verbatim will actually only make thigs worse. It will feel clunky and unauthentic and will actually work against making progress on your culture.
So, stay true to your organization’s mission, cause and purpose and core values and build the environment that supports those things and you will see increasing success.
Good luck to you on your workplace culture improvement journey.