Stefan was quite amazed when he entered the office of the new partner company. The columns looked like bridge pillars, supporting a green ceiling that floated like a canopy of leaves over the room. Rays of sunlight shone through between the branches. The chairs and sofas in the foyer repeated the round, organic style, and a fountain burbled quietly to itself. And of course there were numerous real plants. "That’s what I call a surprising reception," thought Stefan – and in the same moment he suddenly recalled the unusual product solutions that were created here.
Spaces are definitely bundled energy; they affect our well being, motivation and performance. An inspiring work environment provides vitality and input for every kind of activity. Especially when it is not just unique, but also meaningful, or in other words: a cult office. A cult office. Whenever someone excitedly shows his friends photos of his workplace as if it were a newly decorated apartment or a holiday hotel, that's a clear indication of the workplace's cult quality. The office has become a site of identification. There’s potential here!
And this is also good, for both individuals and the company. Motivated employees are the best employees. They not only create a good atmosphere – they also produce excellent work. And remain – with some reservations – "loyal". And this is also important for an office, because in the globalised world there are manifold options for structuring life and work, and creatives are mobile.
Design is no longer a matter of secondary concern; it now stands in the foreground of almost every aspect of everyday life. Whether a telephone, chair, mountain bike or packaging – aesthetic criteria play an important role in every product. We could definitely call it the aestheticisation of the everyday.
Sometimes design is brought in a striking way to the fore, and often it "merely" works in imperceptible ways. And this also holds true for the design of spaces; impressions from the environment trigger emotions and thoughts that affect us. "Emotional design" is the technical term for this.
"Nothing is in the mind which was not previously in the senses", writes Hans Rudolf Jost in his book, "Unternehmenskultur" ("Corporate Culture"). This applies equally to corporate values. Corporate values seem less tangible when they are only read than when they become visible in the office’s architecture, interior design and furnishing. For example, if quality, innovation and fun are among a company's values, then these must be reflected in the spaces as well: high-quality furnishings, new, unusual and humorous design. If the office isn't like this, then someone may doubt the credibility of the company's values and the company itself. Because people like to connect to the culture of the entire company from the moment they enter the space.
This also has a very positive side: offices are optimally suited to make values and corporate culture immediate and tangible. This makes them an essential component of corporate identity. Cult offices therefore play an extremely memorable role.
The fact that collaboration and networking are becoming increasingly important in today’s knowledge economy stems not only from personal experience, but also from studies such as those by the American consultants Catlette and Hadden, or Rolf Berth from Germany. They found that companies that implement networking and collaborative work models are significantly more successful. Whoever insists on egoistic competition as a method of elevating performance will definitely be left empty-handed in the future. Because one thing has become clear: team performance beats individual performance.
It has been demonstrated that most ideas come from company employees themselves – according to a study at IBM, the number is 41 percent. Only 17 percent of ideas come from research and development departments, and 12 percent come from academic institutions. The creative potential of our own workers is enormous, and it calls out for communication and exchange. Spaces of encounter promote these interactions: freely accessible furniture of all kinds, desks, furniture to lean on, or even an installed swimming pool! Baskets of fruit or a well-placed kitchen also do this.
The office of the future is therefore a space of encounter, a space of interaction. Despite or because of an increasingly virtual and mobile work environment, such physical spaces are a necessity. They are the interfaces of knowledge and talent. They provide purchase, show values, facilitate encounters and personal meetings as well as identification with the company. The design of the office thereby becomes a key instrument for managing the future. Ideally designed work environments that provide space for presentation and information technology, allow spontaneity and individuality as team strengths, and promote well-being and productivity. The office of the future is multifaceted, an attractive space for encounter and collaboration.
That’s what Stefan thinks as he constantly recalls the images from his partner company's office. To work in that kind of environment... now that would be something special.