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Breaking down physical divides can help create workspaces that motivate employees

In order for a product or service to get a kickstart, there needs to be a supportive audience behind it. Similarly so, in order to achieve a workplace’s “why,” employers must know what drives their workers in order to gain their support.

So how does a workplace design their infrastructure to motivate their community? Some may say that the aesthetics of an office could help, but it goes far deeper than that. True motivation is accomplished by work culture— do employers feel they can trust their higher-ups? Is communication easily accessible? These factors can create a real shift in workplace dynamic.

Traditional offices have a standard layout. CEOs and other high ranking officers in the top floor, middle range managers get corner offices, and the rest are grouped together in a pool of desks.

This layout, according to Steelcase’s SVP Guillaume Alvarez, is an immediate warning flag. It gives the implication that higher-ups are harder to access, which can create strained communication, resulting in poor well-being among employees.

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Breaking down physical divides is the first step in encouraging communication and trust. That means no separate floors or other inaccessible offices. For example, Steelcase’s CEO has an office in between their building’s main entrance and the cafe. Since employees shuffle through this area every day, they get a chance to chat with the CEO and build a personal, trusting relationship.

Overall, the right workplaces are developed through more than displayed awards and furniture placement; they keep employers engaged, inspired, and in the loop of the company’s status, no matter their ranking.

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