As an entrepreneur, early in my career, I never understood why anyone would spend money on the location or aesthetics of their office. Call me naive but I felt every dollar we had should go into growing the business by investing into marketing, sales, and product development. Anything else was merely a luxury or a waste as far as I was concerned.
Roll forward a few years (and a few grey hairs later) and I am of a much different mindset all together. Office spaces matter for your company and don't let anyone else tell you otherwise. Space can drive and change your culture for both the better or worse. Here are three reasons why you should always think twice about your space.
1. Space matters to your team and can instill a sense of pride. You don't have to be overtly fancy or "gold plated" but you need to make sure it fits within your brand and culture. In fact, space can be a way to drive and re-enforce your culture. The more you give your employees reasons to love your space, the more they will take care of both it and the company. If you give them an ugly, dark and worn down space, they will most likely operate in that vein. I have found that you need to show them you care about both them and their environment. In doing so they will reciprocate with work that reflects those attitudes, efforts and actions.
2. The layout and design of your space will drive how your teams interact and share. It's very important to provide opportunities for your various departments to get to know each other. Doing so will allow engineering to have friends and contacts in sales and vice versa across all teams. When we grew SurePayroll to over 100 employees, this became harder and harder. One way we bridged this gap was to have a central coffee station and eating area for the entire company versus a break room on each floor. This simple design element created a central meeting place for employees to gather, mingle, and generally have the chance to get to know each other. If we had gone the way our designers were pushing we would have had coffee stations spread throughout the entire office, in short we would have reinforced the wrong culture--one that kept everyone in separate silos and apart from each other. While our answer may not have been the most efficient for all teams, it was the best for the overall company and our subsequent culture.
3. Your space can be a great resource in the "The Quest for New Talent". Everyone knows we are in an ongoing "quest for new talent". Why not use your space to get an added edge with recruits? At The Tie Bar, we have a bright, open office that immediately conveys a sense of our brand and welcomes prospective employees into our environment. More often than not when they see our environment, they immediately want to become part of the team. We switch from having to sell them on joining us to deciding if they are the right fit. Our now award-winning space has been crucial in helping us to gain this hiring advantage.
Lastly you should always remember the old adage from Mom, "Treat others as you would want them to treat you". The same goes for the space you provide your employees. Give them an office space that you are proud of; that meets the needs of the business, and fits the culture of your company and you will be amazed at what they can deliver within it.