In my HR career I’ve worked in many different types of business and experienced first-hand how good business cultures and environments affect workers.
Businesses are constantly evolving and most will have an office fit-out at some point. Getting it right though is no easy feat!
When I worked for a well known High Street retailer, I was tasked to help with the relocation of 350 staff to a new Head Office – quite a project! Thankfully my role was the easy bit – keeping employees updated through the different stages, and seeing their faces when they saw their stunning new ‘home’.
‘Home’ may be a strange word to use for a workplace but that’s where we often spend much of our time; most of us want to feel that we do a good job, and we’re more likely to perform well if we feel happy and comfortable. We work with people, and we should feel proud to invite friends, colleagues and clients to our workplace. That’s exactly what happened when we had our office fit-out.
Some people were worried about changes, and had lots of questions. Was it really necessary? How much would it cost? Was it right to spend money on it? Hadn’t we always managed up until now? The answer to the last question was: “yes” – we were just managing and muddling through.
We’d grown as a company and it didn’t take Einstein to see we were now too big for our space. Health and safety was also an issue because, as we got bigger, we created more waste and needed more storage for stock. I remember having to fight my way through clothes rails and boxes to get to my desk – not very safe at all!
Our ‘image’ was also looking tired and our message and culturehad become unclear. Things had to change, but with change comes fear of the unknown and, for some, staying with what they knew was preferable, so managing the move sensitively would be important if we were going to succeed.
From the outset, our facilities team worked closely with the office design and fit-out team at Paramount Interiors (what a surprise!). I remember their visits to our old building; getting to know us, asking questions, understanding our different jobs and how different teams related to each other – finding out what made us tick.
I never forget my first day on site to prepare for the induction of employees: already our workspace had changed from a cramped and dated office into a fresh, inspirational, professional and practical work environment that reflected our image. With our corporate mission statement and business values written on the walls this was undeniably us, and we were proud!
By the first induction day, people were getting excited. Their reactions were overwhelming and it was great watching everyone try out their new spacious desk and comfy multi-functional chair, and the storage with clever rolling rails to accommodate all the ranges of stock.
The meeting rooms had been designed with great facilities, including one for Quality Testing purposes with built in ‘testing’ tools. Best of all was the chic coffee shop for colleagues to take breaks or invite clients for a chat – and not just any coffee though, we even had Starbucks onsite!
The immediate impact was obvious – people loved it. However, longer term benefits emerged when we started getting feedback about how people felt appreciated and valued by the company. There was a definite sense of pride, and the new surroundings meant people felt better equipped to deliver their roles.
Communication improved, ideas were shared freely and people made better use of their time. It also raised the business profile and cemented our position as a leading high street fashion retailer to clients, suppliers and partners.
For me the most visible impact was how it raised the ‘culture’ of the business to a new level. People had always shown commitment to the business, but now they seemed re-inspired to give their best because they genuinely wanted to give something back for the investment the company had made in them.
I no longer work for that particular business, but I’m proud to say that I’m now part of the office design company that made our workplace fit-out such a success.
Written by Angie Scarrett, Marketing Manager at Paramount Interiors.