At work, screens tend to dominate so much of our day that the office itself seems like little more than a backdrop. Too often, companies' physical spaces lag far behind the virtual visions they've created for both their staff and their customers.
Yet workspaces can be powerful, not just visually bringing a brand to life but extending its most important values toward anyone who walks through the door. Hotels, of course, live or die by this concept. At a premier brand like Four Seasons, for example, every property tends to reflect a painstaking attention to detail that the company compares to art. "Gardeners can be artists," says one promotional video for the brand. "Managers, maestros."
Retailers, too, know that their physical spaces must mirror the promise of any marketing. Any well-designed store carefully engineers what its visitors will see, how they will move through the space, and how they will interact with others.
If hospitality and retail can do this, why not any marketing team with an office?
An organization that is doing the important work of defining and honing its brand should include physical locations in the endeavor. For employees, making the workplace feel like a destination can pay off in productivity, collaboration and well-being. For customers and partners, the same space can go perhaps further than any website or brochure in articulating what's inspiring and true about the brand.
At Molly Duggan Associates, we help organizations create “cool offices” that double as expressions of a particular ethos. We use the principles of a brand journey in the office in the same way that we apply them to a digital experience. Along the way, we gather input from the in-house team to identify what they value most so we can give them a better "house."
A destination-style office is designed with the details in mind, from wall treatments to desks to lighting. It's designed to inspire connections and discovery. It makes room for the unconventional.
When we make the office a destination location, we also change the way we look at the design beyond the walls and desks, considering features that are more common in nimble, innovative startups. Maybe it's a hot-desk configuration where people rotate seating on a regular basis, creating collaboration and cross-pollination that otherwise wouldn't happen. It might involve completely reconsidering how to think about the basic concept of space.
Part of encouraging this kind of cross-pollination is also creating a layout that transforms an office into a communication tool, encouraging staff from various departments to “collide” in central locations other than meeting rooms—such as the coffee area, the break room or even a game room. The lobby also should not be overlooked as a place where knowledge work takes place.
For more inspiration, check out how Molly Duggan Associates helped Easterseals create a beautiful workspace that also creates a floor-to-ceiling immersion in the brand.