I was struck by this article by Doug Conant and Stephen MR Covey that described a building surrounded by a fence and razor wire. This had a guard tower and weeds had overtaken the yard. And this was the corporate office of a major food brand devoted to creating “global wellness and nutrition”.
Wow, not what you would expect with nourishment in the mission. And yet, the environment we create is also communicating a message. One that in this case, would cause me to call into question global wellness and nutrition. What are you communicating with your environment?
I work with a lot of hospitals. These are places of healing. And while the lobby, the patient encounter space, and rooms are well kept, the staff environment often leaves something to be desired. I remember calling on the Business Office of a hospital in Southern California. Their office was right next to the morgue. How do you think workers felt coming to work each day? How do you think the patients felt having to go there to pay bills?
Now, that might be the message you want to communicate. One Call Center had stand up desks (all the rage today) and the work top was 24 by 32 inches with short “privacy” walls designed to allow the supervisors to observe activity. No personalization of this space was allowed. Purses and brief cases were kept in lockers and no this was not the CIA.
Contrast this to the work spaces at…Google, Mind Valley, or Zappos. And here’s the deal.. we don’t have to spend a lot of money on this or hire remarkable architects. We can use natural lights, we can provide private and open space, we can add color and places to connect and collaborate.
In today’s fast paced environment, where innovation and creativity are required, I would suggest that we pay attention to the message we are sending. Even the message our workspace is sending. Our customers and our co-workers are watching.
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