Five years ago, Main Street Hub fit into a 1,000-square-foot office in downtown San Francisco. Since then, the company has added more than 300 people to the team, moved its headquarters to Austin, and opened three new offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. Companies that grow successfully put culture at the fore, and even something as seemingly ordinary as an office layout can significantly affect how the culture scales. Here are four ways to help you design a workspace that reinforces and strengthens your company culture.

1. Involve the team in every step of the process
When designing a new space, spend time with your architects in your existing office, so they can understand your culture and see how each team works. Invite comment from your colleagues on the look and feel of the options the architects present. Finally, ask leaders throughout the organization to weigh in as you finalize the layout. By the end of what should be an iterative design process, you will have collected the explicit and, in the form of observed behavior, implicit feedback from the team. Through considering those multiple viewpoints, you will be able to create a space that is responsive to how you work.

2. Focus on your values
You want your workspace to amplify the culture and values of your company. At Main Street Hub, this means a focus on transparency, speaking up, and feedback. As a result, everyone in the company sits in an open floor plan, and no employee has a private office. Fewer walls in the office lead to fewer walls in communication between colleagues.

3. Invest in your customers, not extravagance
Build your office with one purpose: to better serve your customers. Will an office design enable each team to work swiftly, effectively, and collaboratively? Great. Will it help you to attract and retain outstanding individuals who will go on to make big contributions for your customers? Excellent. But an expensive building, or a marquee address, does not in itself do anything for your customers. Look for every opportunity to be frugal. Every extra dollar you pay for extravagances is a dollar that you won't be investing in your customers.

4. Encourage feedback
In addition to growing your workspace in size along with your company, make sure that it remains flexible to the cultural and operational needs of your team. Existing needs will change, and new ones will arise. Spaces that you designed with one purpose in mind might need to adapt to serve a different purpose. Through observation, feedback, and constant communication with your team, you can ensure that your workspace continues to be an asset to the culture and the mission of the company.

Published on: Nov 4, 2014
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