Deciding where you work is a big deal and happily, amongst our community, it is just that — a decision. Yet it’s one we still take lightly. A workplace has traditionally been seen as a necessary foundation for business, making everything that involves the space itself a bit of a chore. And admittedly, if you take ‘the workplace’ to be no more than bricks and mortar, office management is deadly dull. The innovator, however, makes a strong case for considering workplace design a strategy for success.
It’s surprising that there hasn’t been a steeper adoption of this philosophy, given how long its value has been evident in business. Frank Lloyd Wright was building on inspiration from human interaction with space in his office designs in the early 1900s. Startups have been flooding to the Valley to harness its hive power since the dot-com boom.
In the case of shopfronts, the strategy of workplace design has never not been a consideration. A shop owner wouldn’t dream of signing a lease on a property without doing their due diligence on the neighbours and their new hood. Then, once they’re in, they’ll continue to toil over window designs and layouts daily to lure in their perfect customer. The space is the core of their brand.
So a workplace can springboard companies to the stars, or throw them into oblivion. In other words, where you choose to build your business will make or break you.
But no pressure.
With fewer obstacles, startups are at a significant advantage over more well-established companies when deciding where to work. Except, of course, when it comes to the money. Aspire though they may, a ten-person IoT team is never going to be able to build their own office with all the benefits of working at Facebook HQ. At least not without selling up.
Even so, once word got out about all the perks the big players are showering their employees with, it became almost obligatory for new startups to turn to bragging about what they’d have on-site in an attempt to draw talent away from the Facebooks and Googles of the world. Since then we’ve heard stories of company restaurants, gadget stores, walls of sweets, play rooms, gyms, in-house saunas, ping pong tables, plants, meditation zones, booze on tap, rooftops, slides, climbing walls, office pets, and almost anything else you could imagine being legally built into a workspace.
The workplace is such an important factor in hiring and inspiring teams that we should no longer be considering these things mere perks at all. Companies that see the workplace for what it has the potential to be — part of their business strategy — invest in purposeful design that inspires creativity, nurtures productivity, and helps to attract and retain the best talent.
In this way, successful founders surround themselves with similarly ambitious people, creating an environment where success breeds success. Recruitment is just one way to achieve that though, which is lucky, because no well-connected startup could afford the burn rate attached to putting every talented individual they meet on their payroll. Building a support network sustainably means spending time in the places where these clever people just happen to congregate; putting your team in the middle of a thriving ecosystem of startups, talent, advisers, investors and early adopters.
We tap into Google’s workplace experience, on a startup budget. All the advantages of being part of a talented community, with none of the strings, and everything you need to grow.
And so the workplace is changing the way businesses succeed. Whether it’s the neighbours, the address, or the breakout zones and fancy chairs, workplace strategy is an opportunity to build culture internally and establish a reputation based on those brand values. People want to be proud of where they work, and feel empowered every time they walk through the doors. Naturally that’s a far more interesting proposition to us than simply selling you a desk.