Is your workspace working?

Is your workspace working?

When is the last time you have given serious thought to your current workspace and whether or not it…well … works? While colour preferences and plants may not make it to the top of the ‘To-Do’ list on a busy week (or even a slow one), a well thought through workspace that is consistent with your organization’s culture could be more important than you realize.

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Zoe North of New York-based OfficeSpace Software explains that “a poorly designed office can lead to decreased morale, productivity and a negative office environment, while a good layout can lead to better internal communications and greater employee satisfaction.” Another factor not mentioned is employee retention: I know people who have left organizations simply because they couldn’t stand another day staring at the grey cubicle walls. Thus, there is a real cost to business.

There is also tremendous opportunity for organizations that take the time to invest in modern office design that aligns with company values and mission. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) article Workspaces That Move People highlights emerging evidence that office design impacts organizational performance. Office design can increase opportunities for chance encounters and interactions between knowledge workers, which in turn can improve performance.

So, what are some recommendations for organizational leaders that stem from this research in the HBR article?

• Recognize office space not just as an amortized asset but as a strategic tool for growth;
• Design offices that reflect how 21st century digital work is actually done; and
• Blend physical office spaces into the surrounding urban environment.

While you may not have the budget that a company like Microsoft is throwing at the redesign of its headquarters in Redmond, Washington, small changes can make a difference too. Here at OTUS Group, we recently revamped our head office in Ottawa, ON to better reflect our organizational culture. One of the ways we did this was by making sure our namesake owl (scientific name: OTUS), a universal symbol of vision, wisdom, and insight, features more prominently to inspire our team!


While there is no one-sized-fits-all approach to improved workspace design, ask yourself: 1) is our workspace aligned with our organizational values?; and 2) if not, what can we do to close the gap?

Jeffrey Phillips
Jeffrey Phillips joined OTUS Group in August 2017 as an advisor focused on business development activities in both Ottawa, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia. Jeff is an independent consultant with over seven years’ experience in the public and private sectors advising clients on complex policy issues related to international trade and risk management.

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