This past week I had the wonderful opportunity of working with PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors). They support their customers (members) who run dive centers and resorts around the world. I presented a customer service speech at their headquarters in Southern California. As I toured their offices I noticed several things. Their walls were painted blue, like the ocean. There were dozens and dozens of large pictures of their members SCUBA diving. They have a pool for their employees to learn and practice diving, or to just relax in during lunch or after work. A nice locker room allows their employees to work out and ride bikes during lunch, so they can shower and return to work clean and refreshed. Surprisingly, this is exactly what I expected to see when I visited their building.
Peter McMillan and Chuck Pass own Pedro’s Planet, an office supply company that specializes in environmentally conscious office products. They are big into recycling for their customers. Even their office furniture reflects their culture. The desks are made out of recycled materials. Wouldn’t expect anything less from a company whose favorite holiday is Earth Day, the annual celebration that reminds us to be “green.”
Zappos.com‘s offices are more traditional in that the employees work in cubicles. However, their culture is felt throughout the building. Maybe it is because their CEO and the rest of the executive team sit in cubicles, right in the middle of everyone else. Doesn’t that set the tone!
The common thread through these examples is that the environment the employees work in matches the culture. Just observing the way the employees interact gives you a sense of the culture. The physical environment accentuates the culture.
I walk into my lawyer’s office. The first thing I notice are conference rooms with big wood tables. Everyone is dressed in conservative business suits and dresses. It’s expected.
I visited an ad agency that specializes in social media. It was like walking onto a set of Star Wars. Somehow the feeling of creativity was felt. Maybe it was the lighting. Or, maybe it was the colors of the carpet and the walls. The bottom line is it worked and it felt right.
You don’t need a pool or a locker room to accentuate your culture. You can put up some art work – or take some down. You can paint some walls – or maybe knock out a wall. The physical layout and design of workspace may not make your culture, but it does make a statement. Take advantage of the opportunity to make that statement, for both your employees and your customers.