Customer service specialist, customer-centric thinking and customer experience journey mapping are terms tossed around our corporate office with great gravitas. And for good reason. The business world has finally discovered that the little end-user is the person paying the bills.

Well, it’s not exactly a revolutionary realisation. After all, “the client is always right” has been business mantra since long before “the client is always an asshole” was considered common knowledge. (Thanks, Kevin Smith). Neither of these two views are anywhere close to correct, and both disregard the one central understanding that drives true customer experience. Empathy.

To create an extraordinary experience for someone who is NOT you, it is necessary to interpret their perceptions with true empathy. Your customers are unique people with unique needs. When companies truly understand this concept, amazing things happen. Just look at Amazon. The benefits are immense.

But what if we applied that same customer experience journey to the employees in your business? Would it be possible to get the same benefits? And perhaps boost creativity and productivity? You bet!

The staff in any business are also the very first customers. But they are buying something far more important than a product. They are buying into the brand.

Here lies the foundation of culture at work. Your people need to believe in you and find their individual pride in the company they represent. Or, if we are getting philosophical about it: Employees can either get out of bed or regret out of bed, which is largely based on whether they want to go to work. No-one is rushing out of the house to excitedly dig into a pile of paperwork, but they sure make an effort if they love the people they work with.

Culture in the workplace is a far more intricate construct that grabbing a pint at the local after the boss shoves off. Writing for HR Tech Weekly, Andy Cabistan states that “purpose, ownership, community, effective communication, and good leadership” form the backbone of good organisational culture. In the modern workplace “companies need to offer individuals a sense of belonging and a mission to accomplish something remarkable.” A great company knows this, and designs their employee experience journey as carefully as that of their customers.

Supporting all these culture elements is the environment in which your employees find themselves every day. Their experience of the business they work for, and the journey they take with their company is impacted by the space they are in. Your office layout, the personal desk space of each employee, the ergonomic chairs they sit on, and the comfortable furniture in your collaborative lounges all play an essential role in crafting their mood.

As Zoe Humphries explains in OnOffice Magazine, “Understanding that space shapes behavior, fostering creativity starts with providing areas for people to come together in groups as well as spaces to move apart to work individually. The right range of spaces and technology can remove barriers, ensuring employees have the right space and right technology when they need it.”

If you give your people a conscientious work environment, they feel valued. They feel their needs are met by a positive and supportive physical space. I work in such a space and it make me proud.

Our open plan office desks are separated by low desk dividers to give a sense of privacy, while still allowing teams who sit together to discuss projects on the fly. The dividers double as magnetic white-boards which are great for to-do lists and to jot down project deadlines. Each workstation has a dual function mobile cushioned pedestal. When a colleague comes to my desk to discuss a project, I roll out the pedestal from under the desk to give them a convenient seat.

I like the open plan space, but there are two realities you have to face. It gets bloody noisy, and if someone is 50 meters away, they might as well be in a different city. To solve the first of these issues, our open plan spaces are skirted by private Haven Work Pod Solo units where any individual can plug in their laptop and get to work in silence. There are also multiple acoustically rated Lohko office phone booths, a comfortable, low-backed armchair, and Talon side table to hold your notepad and cuppa as you take calls.

To bring those far-flung colleagues together, the open plan sections each have small 8-seater boardrooms with multipurpose chairs decked in bright custom fabrics that matches the corporate colours. Each meeting room has a white table that I use as a whiteboard to put down ideas during creative sessions. The tables are embedded with sharing AV connections for the teams to share projector screen time and share ideas through their devices.

If booking a meeting room is overkill, there are collaborative spaces with comfortable home-style sofas, armchairs, low coffee tables, and glass whiteboards on the wall, where colleagues can meet for impromptu brainstorming sessions or to relax over lunch.

Along with a massive cafeteria that doubles as the corporate assembly space for town halls, there are smaller breakout areas all over the building where we can eat our meals together and catch-up. Of course, there are also big boardrooms of all shapes and sizes for interviews, departmental meetings and presentations.

It is a great space to work. And it helps that we are in an ecologically sustainable, green building with a solar farm on the roof and charging bays for electric vehicles in the basement. The toilets even flush with captured rainwater.

When your company invests in a space that supports your individual style of work, brings people together when you need it, and allows you to isolate yourself when you must focus, it is a marvelous experience.

Thanks to the caring corporate culture fostered by our expertly designed interior spaces and well-chosen furniture, the employees are not considered a workforce, but rather brand ambassadors. The business does not have to drill in the company line, because the corporate values are embedded in our workplace. We work in a futuristic organic machine where independent members take extreme ownership because they are proud. They go the extra mile, and they decide to build a career instead of jumping ship.

The business has interpreted our needs with empathy, and has created a complimentary space for a healthy company culture to thrive, where creativity can flourish.

19 Oct - By Hein de Vries