- The relationship between office design and company culture is well documented, but how will it fare in a post-COVID world?
- Lasse Karvinen of furniture company Framery, believes that we will have to rethink space in order to make an employee’s commute to the office worth it.
- After all, “if your office doesn’t support teamwork, cooperation and different work modes, why should you travel there if you can work from home?”
Remote working is here to stay. But does that mean the relationship between office design and company culture will just… cease to exist?
This was the burning question on our minds when we approached Framery, a workspace furniture company, for their insight on the subject.
According to Head of Products Lasse Karvinen, the answer is no – but companies will have to rethink the way they utilise space in order to make an employee’s commute to the office worth it.
After all, “if your office doesn’t support teamwork, cooperation and different work modes, why should you travel there if you can work from home?”
Allwork.Space: First off, what does “company culture” mean to your organisation?
Lasse Karvinen: Company culture means everything to our organization. In any business, the success of the company boils down to the happiness of its clients and customers––and a happy client base isn’t possible without a healthy working environment and well supported employees. It’s their happiness and productivity that results in the overall success of the organization. With all of that said, company culture is what drives our business.
We work hard and learn quickly, but we have to make sure we slow down sometimes to reflect on our company culture and ensure we are holding it to its highest standard. Recognizing the importance of a strong company culture is an essential step to taking care of it. Growing fast can entail a lot of exciting challenges, problems and even failure––so it is important to remember to still have fun every day, and communicate that to employees.
“People will have higher expectations of what the office can provide them both in a community aspect, as well as in a productivity aspect.”Lasse Karvinen
We have a Culture Handbook that clarifies what we value, what we expect from each other, and demonstrates how we achieve exceptional results. Although our culture is unique and strong, it is also constantly evolving and actively being developed. One component of our company culture is that we encourage each and every employee to be themselves in the workplace!
Allwork.Space: What impact do you think COVID-19 will have/is having on business’ ability to create and maintain a unique company culture?
I believe that COVID-19 has had a relatively large impact on company cultures, especially with new employees who are joining the team during this time. When face-to-face interaction is missing, it is more challenging to “transfer” the culture virtually. We are also very used to working in teams and find ourselves really missing each other.
We find ourselves seeking human interaction and community that we typically find physically in the office. A short pause won`t be a problem but if the situation continues, it might be challenging to maintain the unique company culture. We will have to find new ways to bring our people together and give the same sense of community that we feel when we’re in the office.
Allwork.Space: The world is currently taking part in the biggest remote working experiment. Do you think physical workspaces will lose relevance after this?
Physical workspaces will lose some relevance after COVID-19 because during this time most office workers have had to work remotely, even those who have been reluctant to do it. Since individuals are getting used to working remotely, it will become easier and more convenient for employees to do that rather than come into an office.
“Most people are missing their ergonomic workstations, privacy, and especially interaction with others.”
On the other hand, some people will look forward to a break from their current circumstances. When the whole family is working and studying remotely, our homes often look more like a circus rather than a safe haven. The individuals who are struggling with the adjustment will be more likely to want to go back to working in the office when the opportunity arises again.
In any case, most people are missing their ergonomic workstations, privacy, and especially interaction with others. I believe that in the future, the office is more likely to be a meeting point for everyone to come together and less like a big hall of workstations stacked next to each other. There are many offices already structured and set up like this, and thus they will keep their relevance in the future. In the end, I would say that the physical workplace will keep its relevance by 80-90% after COVID-19.
Allwork.Space: How do you think office space design will change in light of COVID-19?
In the short term, we are likely to see an increase in social distancing efforts by removing closely packed workstations from offices and having less chairs in meeting rooms. In the long term, methods to prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria will become more common and expected. This might look like a change in the materials used and set up of office furniture.
“If your office doesn’t support teamwork, cooperation and different work modes, why should you travel there if you can work from home?”
As mentioned earlier, I believe that the future office will be more like a meeting point for employees to come together when they want to be in the office and less like a big hall of workstations where they are encouraged to stay and work. More people will become interested in the option of working from home, and only come into the office on an “as needed” basis.
If your office doesn`t support teamwork, cooperation and different work modes, why should you travel there if you can work from home? Employers will have to make sure there is an appeal to come into the office by adding agile and accommodating solutions into the office.
Allwork.Space: What role will office design play in building company culture following the pandemic?
The way an office is designed can really impact and support building a company’s culture. Having a space that allows employees to be productive and inspired as well as one that brings people together and enables high performance, will influence the culture at the company.
Therefore, office design will have an even more significant role in the future when we all are allowed to go back to the office and bring people together, because people will have higher expectations of what the office can provide them both in a community aspect, as well as in a productivity aspect.
“Specially designed meeting rooms will create a better video conferencing experience, which will improve the remote work experience and help making teams feel connected.”
Allwork.Space: How can office design help facilitate remote work and how can it be used to make remote workers feel like part of a team?
An individual’s remote work setup is most important, but having the right solutions and office design can also facilitate and support in connecting workers together as a team.
Specially designed meeting rooms will create a better video conferencing experience, which will improve the remote work experience and help make teams feel connected.
“We have encouraged our employees to take their task chairs, displays, and even their height-adjustable desks, home with them, if possible.”
It is also important to have the right kind products and solutions to assist with video conferencing to ensure that workers feel connected and supported. Many individuals will begin opting for virtual conference meetings even after the pandemic is over, so ensuring that employees are personally equipped with the right solutions, as well as the office space, will ensure that connectivity will still be present no matter where the employees are working from.
Allwork.Space: You provide soundproof acoustic pods to schools as well as workspaces. How are educational institutions experimenting with design to prepare upcoming generations for the modern workplace––particularly in relation to workplace “culture”?
Educational institutions are very similar to workplaces. There are places on campus where students go to collaborate and work together in teams, similar to a conference room in an office. They also utilize different spaces like the library to get focused work done, similar to pods and other breakout spaces in the workplace.
Educational spaces offer different environments to meet student needs, which is the same as the office, therefore creating an academic space where students can build community through working together, while also having an area to retreat to to get focused work done.
Allwork.Space: Do you think companies should be required to provide their remote workers with ergonomic office furniture to ensure safety and comfort?
I’d agree that it is incredibly helpful when companies can provide employees with the support they need in their new home offices. That is only, of course, if these resources are available to them!
There is a critical role that hygiene plays in an ergonomic workstation––at Framery, we have encouraged our employees to take their task chairs, displays, and even their height-adjustable desks, home with them, if possible. This ensures that they are comfortable and productive at home.
Since these items were already being used by team members in the office, they can feel comfortable and safe using the furniture, because they are familiar with it and are able to control how they utilize it.