In today’s workplace, it is evident that furniture plays a critical role for the employer, the employees and their customers. The furniture helps to solidify a company’s brand.
When a company has a brand that they want their staff to feel connected to and live each and every day, their brand has to extend beyond just customer-facing employees and run through all aspects of the company, including the furniture. To make the furniture space align with the brand, there needs to be a consideration of how employees work and make the space fit best for different work styles.
Arna Banack, a cultural anthropologist who works with Steelcase to measure and develop company culture says, “Changing the physical environment can affect many aspects of organizational culture. Space can have a direct impact on communication, collaboration, trust, how employees understand the company’s mission and strategy and how they represent the brand.”
A company’s brand can definitely be expressed through its furnishings. It is impossible to live your brand if you are not living in your brand. This no longer means cookie cutter spaces. More companies are starting to move away from cubicle farms and incorporating different styles of spaces based on their employee’s needs and habits. How the furniture is placed – open workspaces versus private offices and colors also play a big role. When the workspace supports the brand from the bottom up, it makes their employees feel connected and willing to live the company brand, which in turn makes employees more engaged and more productive.
For example, a startup company may have very casual, lounge-type furniture with a lot of open spaces for a relaxed, creative environment, whereas a bank wanting to portray trust and security may have a lot of wood and traditional furniture to create a different type of atmosphere for the customer.
Some cardinal rules for outfitting an office are:
- Determine the image or brand you want to portray to employees and customers. The design should be based on this to assure the space fits your vision.
- Use furniture and finishes that fit the space – if the office is a wide open space, make sure there is furniture that has some weight to it and also varying heights to draw the eyes upward so the space is not on “one level”.
- Make sure there are areas that fit the culture of how the employees work. If some employees need private spaces to do individual work and others need collaborative spaces for group work, make sure the space provides these outlets.
Mistakes to avoid:
- Ask for professional assistance when designing a space. Designers are the experts and can help bring your vision to life and may provide options never considered. They understand the need to portray an image to customer and employees alike and know the options available from the many office furnishing manufacturers.
- Do not be afraid to step out of the box. Again, you may not think you want something until it is seen in a design of the overall project. A pop of color or an interesting piece of furniture can make the difference.
- Sacrificing quality for budget can be a major mistake. Quality and comfortable furniture comes with a price tag, but over the long term is normally the lower cost to own.