Does the space you work in inspire you?

Today’s article is so relevant to all of us at Fusion Consulting, as after 4 great years, we have outgrown our office space and have moved into new offices. We love the fact that we can now “breathe” in a space designed to meet our team’s requirements - a work space with good flow, a chill area to relax, have a meal and catch up, and comfortable and spacious meeting rooms.   

We are sure you will agree how important our workspace is as it is almost our ‘second home’ in terms of the time we spend there during the day! When choosing office space remember that even though you may think of yourself as an ‘organism’, your companies, no matter how big or small is made up of many individuals, with different personalities.  For example, there are:

-    the techies – who are comfortable with IT blurb and software jargon and are happiest when sitting behind a computer

-    the bean counters – so comfortable with numbers, happily punching away on their calculators and working on excel spreadsheets, who thrive on balancing their figures

-    the legal eagles – who dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s and conscientiously wade through mountains of contracts and legal jargon that go way over many of our heads

-    the ‘nuts and bolts’ types – the administrative people that are the glue of the organisation, holding it all together by implementing all the necessary processes,  and             then there are

-    the creative types – who either come up with ideas or translate the visions of the strategists of the company into an idea/design that can be implemented.  

All of the above types respond to different forms of motivation to ‘push their buttons’, to enable them to enjoy their work environment and to perform their jobs well, but it is the creative types that definitely find it harder to perform to the best of their ability when in a stiff and formal corporate environment with grey walls and partitions!

A recent article by Gwen Moran illustrates a few interesting cases of companies who have gone out of their way to ensure that their creative employees and others really enjoy ‘going to work’ and are inspired every day!

Indigo Wild in Kansas City was created by Emily Voth in 1996, after leaving her job as a communications manager in a stiff corporate culture.  Apart from designing the company building with sustainable materials and ensuring that the ‘chi’ could flow, she went even further by having beautiful aromas in the building to match the all-natural soaps and lotions they produce, beautiful décor in calming blues and greens, and bright colours in a communal dining space where everyone eats lunch together.  Allowing employees to bring their dog to work and flexible working hours are just some of the ‘out of the box’ measures she has taken to motivate her creative employees many of whom are artists and musicians.   

Another example is Dixon Schwabl Victor, NY owned by husband and wife Mike Schwabl and Lauren Dixon.  Being forced to relocate after snow conditions damaged their offices, gave them the perfect opportunity to ask employees for their new office wish list! The result a $2.5 million building which has windows which open to circulate fresh air, office temperature controls, cheerful colours, motivational and marketing messages on the Conference room walls (Think Out Loud and Create the Buzz) and trendy black and white bathrooms.

Plus weekly ice cream deliveries (the most popular perk amongst employees) and a Dixon Schwabl slide, which starts on the second floor and ends in the main lobby of this advertising and PR agency, complete the employees wonderful world of work.

Cie Games Long Beach, California founder Dennis Suggs says  “If you shut people up or if you put them in cubes and tell them to be quiet, you have a dead workspace." He says “I wanted people motivated and expected to get up and talk about their ideas."

And this is apparent in the offices he has in a bank building which he has transformed into anything but a “dead” workspace.  The offices have decorative glass walls for staff communication through colour and which can also be used to watch movies, an open floor plan, bright colours throughout, desks in clusters not cubicles and the conference room doors are actually sections of old airplanes….. all to motivate his creative employees and attract new hires who want to work in such a ‘cool’ space!

Some of the above may seem a bit extreme for South African offices, but it does show that if employers can push the boundaries when creating new office spaces they will get optimum performance out of their happy and motivated employees!