There is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ office space. Each organisation is unique, and it benefits the business and employees when culture and organisational DNA are imbedded into design. Setting is sometimes considered unimportant – as long as you have the materials you need to get your work done, it doesn’t matter where you do it, right? Well, as it turns out, office interiors influence more than just aesthetics.
LinkedIn’s new Sydney office space provides an example of a company that sees office design as a factor in employee productivity and engagement levels. The social media site first entered the Australian digital space in 2009 with an office the size of an average boardroom. Now, more than 200 employees work across three offices, the largest of which is in Sydney.
Such rapid growth meant that the company was given an opportunity to assess its work environment and build from scratch. Cliff Rosenberg, managing director of Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia, says that when it came time to move, the company wanted to make sure every employee – senior level to entry level – had the opportunity to voice their desires and needs of the new space.
Health and wellness were concerns for employees in the Sydney office, and as a result all desks are standing desks. Collaboration was another concern, so designers created an open floor plan with spaces throughout the office where groups can easily have impromptu meetings or planned conferences.
The company continues to conduct global surveys twice a year of all employees to measure whether these initiatives actually affect employee values and engagement. Although the Sydney office space is still too new to make any inferences, previous office redesigns have yielded insights into what employees have come to expect form their workspace. Now, more than ever, workers are looking for ‘vibe’ – that unique element of office design that plays a role in not only attracting new talent, but also retaining existing talent.
LinkedIn takes its organisational culture and values seriously, and its core tenants are reflected in how the space is designed, particularly around growth and a sense of community. As an international company, LinkedIn tries to take the best elements from each office space and incorporate them into design plans for future spaces to create unity and consistency.
Local flavour is still important, though: all boardrooms in the Sydney office are named after local phrases or places; printers are named after dangerous Aussie animals as a warning to approach with caution; and Australian-themed murals decorate the walls in communal spaces.
Since the redesign, Rosenberg says this office is now a place where workers find it hard to leave at the end of the day. Ultimately, any office space has to work for those who work there, and LinkedIn’s continued efforts to translate office design into employee engagement goes a long way towards building a positive work environment. When a workspace is able to reconcile company values with employee needs, it creates an organisational culture that’s immediately recognisable.
A presentation on ‘How to design an office that builds organisational capital’ was hosted at this year’s AHRI National Convention.