“We are out of space” I hear one say.
It’s Tuesday morning, five minutes to 10 o’clock as I enter the lobby and make my way to the elevator. I step inside and quickly ascend to level 6 to meet my 10 O’clock appointment. The client is a Melbourne based Business Services company with 35 staff and “significant growth plans”. I pull open the entry door and stop. Emblazoned on the wall in front of me are the company’s values. Among those which I committed to memory were to be found:
– We value our people – they are the centre of what we do
– We foster creativity and innovation
– We strive to be the best – providing leading edge solutions
With high hopes and low expectations, I make my way to the reception and am promptly inducted into the meeting room where I receive my introduction to the Company Directors.
With the usual pleasantries behind us the directors are keen to get down to business. “We are out of space” I hear one say. “We moved in five years ago, we had 20 staff, we’ve just grown so fast.”
“we’ve just kept adding workstations and its worked out well” another states.
The discussion continues around numbers, dates and commercial reasoning. We discuss growth plans and corporate direction. I don’t hear too much about the people I think to myself.
“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs
“Let’s have a walk through the workspace” I suggest. We head out through the workstation area. Before us is a row of offices built along the only source natural light. In front of the offices is 30 corner workstations with drab, grey high-sided workstation screens behind which the staff cower.
Some manage a wry grin at our passing. One particularly bold man meets us with “hello! What have we here?”.
“Oh just a Workspace Consultant helping us maximise our space” he is told.
I hear a collective inhalation of musty air from behind the workstations. The tension in the atmosphere rises to levels of tangibility.
“The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers.” – Richard Branson
Then open the flood gates.
“can you build a sound proof room to put Tony in? When he gets on the phone we might as well be at the V8 Super Cars”
“what about a spot for private performance reviews and recruitment interviews” the HR Manager asks.
“How hard would it be to put a skylight in here, or a green wall we had one of those at the last place I worked.”
I chuckle to myself and turn to the directors who continue to show me through the space.
We end up back in the meeting room. “Your staff have some great ideas” I say.
“Ha! Yes, they always make crazy suggestions like that. But we don’t have that sort of budget, besides we are about productivity, we set those workstations up so they would be productive, you know, so they don’t distract each other with idle chit-chat and the like”
“Oh” I say “I don’t know a great deal but I would suggest that the writing is on the wall….in more ways than one…”
Now, all names and happenings in my anecdote were entirely hypothetical but nevertheless based on fact…which begs the question:
How does the physical space affect employee performance?
Within this enigma lies the answer to greater profitability. Here are some thoughts:
Ready to create your own workplace transformation? Speak to our Workspace Team for an initial space consultation and see how we can improve productivity in your workplace.