Opinion

7 ways that reimagining your workplace experience will transform your business

As work-life balance becomes a priority for many employees, expectations of the workplace have risen. Design Director Richard Bennett explores how brands can use their workspace to boost their brand experience.

RB
By Richard Bennett
Posted 03. 04. 2020
ACE Dalziel Pow Virgin Media CDD9739 HR

In the current situation, an unprecedented amount of people are working from home, with offices across the world temporarily closing their doors. But when we start getting back to normality and people return to their desks, it will be more vital than ever to provide a stimulating environment that galvanises teams, as well as offers the necessary support. Big city offices may be a thing of the past - Barclays has recently announced plans to rethink their location strategy - but reimagined workspaces tailored to staff needs offer huge potential.

The generic office has had its day. These uninspiring spaces that were once the norm are giving way to a new wave of beautifully designed, incredibly thought-through workplaces. It coincides with changing attitudes towards work, the rise of freelance culture and the introduction of wellness to the mainstream. As work-life balance becomes a priority for many employees, expectations of the workplace have also risen, presenting an opportunity for brands to build on their brand experience by ensuring they have a workplace fit for the modern age and employee. With the widespread adoption of flexible and remote working options, it’s even more important for brands to offer an agile workplace solution that supports this, particularly when remotivating staff after long home-working stints.

How can a reimagined workspace help build your brand experience?

1. A shared purpose

In the experience era, purpose is everything. Your customers want to know who you are and what you stand for - and so do your employees. With over half of global millennials admitting company values matter more to them than a higher paycheck, it’s the perfect time for your workplace to express your ethos and form a campus for your community.

Virgin Media’s new headquarters were designed around a concept of Social Media - championing the brand’s core value of building connections that really matter. We introduced immersive portals to link employees with one another throughout the building, and each floor has its own communal kitchen for staff to socialise and connect. By allowing employees to share in these core values, Virgin Media is strengthening the impact of their brand experience from the top down.

ACE Dalziel Pow Virgin Media DSC1753 crop
virgin media's 'social media' concept brings people together

2. Attraction and retention

A study has found that 71% of the UK employed workforce would consider starting their own business or becoming a freelancer - a worrying stat for companies who understand the value of their people in enhancing their total brand experience. An engaged, motivated workforce is key to hold onto - it’s vital to consider your employee experience and the effect this can have on talent retention.

A great workspace can make all the difference. Nationwide knew that they needed to attract top digital talent to their new innovation centre in Swindon, so we designed an industrial-feel, contemporary space in order to appeal to their target audience. As the fight for the best talent ramps up, the workplace is set to become an ever-more important battleground and a key location to create the total brand experience.

3. Creativity and innovation

Investing in your workspace can help foster a culture of creativity and push new innovations - key for any brand wanting to remain relevant and successful in a world where the best idea wins.

Apple’s immaculate product design capabilities are undisputed - and with an inspirational workplace in the form of One Infinite Loop, it’s no surprise why the tech brand’s pioneering designs always come out on top. In today’s landscape where audiences are constantly seeking out the new, brands need to embrace creativity as a business tool in order to deliver the most engaging experience for the customer or target audience.

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the communal bump space at nationwide's swindon workplace

4. Encouraging collaboration

The design of your workspace can influence collaborative ways of working and bring people together who wouldn’t usually meet, encouraging creativity and helping to build relationships across the organisation.

The Bump Space, a flexible, reimagined restaurant at Nationwide’s Swindon workspace, was designed to enable people to quite literally bump into each other serendipitously. The open-plan area transforms from a cafe into a communal gathering space to be used for informal meetings, town halls and yoga classes as well as all-day dining, allowing employees to work and socialise the way they want. The impact of a strong community on your brand experience is huge - encouraging collaboration between employees is key in achieving this.

5. Creating an inclusive culture

A beautiful looking space is a good start. But creating a great culture at your workplace is the glue that holds your organisation together and allows employees to feel proud to be a part of the experience.

Co-working brand Second Home has re-written the workplace rulebook, bringing the employee to the forefront and taking wellness, cultural enrichment, fulfilment, the optimised-self and personal development all into account. Their regular yoga and meditation sessions, along with open discussions on a range of topics from finance through to philosophy and sociology, help to create an open environment where employees feel supported. Your work culture is what sets you apart and allows employees to fully embody your brand experience - if you get it right, you’ll reap the rewards.

Virgin Media
virgin media employees can enjoy yoga sessions during breaks

6. Inviting the client in

Your workspace isn’t just for your employees. Along with a heightened interest in brand purpose, clients are also valuing transparency when it comes to brand behaviour and experience. Instead of being seen as ‘back-of-house’, the workplace is now being reimagined as a ‘brand home’ - a pure representation of the brand that draws audiences in to learn more.

One of Google’s Parisian offices serves this purpose of a brand home and is open to select clients, allowing them to interact further with the brand. The space is divided into two areas - The Workshop for relaxation, and L’Atelier for conferences, private events and training. The warm, residential-esque office feels more like a private space where expression, creativity and innovation can flourish. By blurring the lines between front-of-house and behind-the-scenes, brands are allowing their clients to connect with them on a whole new level and elevate their experience.

7. Revenue growth and operational efficiency

A UK survey found that 20% of office workers feel their workspace actually hinders them doing their job. It’s a worrying stat - but a well-designed work environment can boost employee productivity and efficiency.

Unilever has long embraced flexible working and designed its offices to cater to various types of working. Employees have a choice of spaces – open or enclosed, formal or informal etc – that allow for focussed independent work or relaxed collaborative work. The company attributes this strategy to increased employee productivity - which ultimately leads to higher efficiency and revenue growth. And what brand can’t benefit from that?

Unilever HQ 12
agile working at unilever hq. photo credit: Perkins & will

Experience Design is now firmly on the agenda in the workplace. The result is a boom in beautiful and considered workspaces that in turn create a motivated and engaged workforce that are excited to go to work and proud to share their working lives. Your employees can be your best asset or your biggest issue - by investing in your employee experience and ensuring your people are advocates of your brand, you can only benefit as a result.

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