The way we view offices has changed dramatically over the past few years. What were once functional places built solely for working in have increasingly become spaces geared towards providing a specific experience.
That’s as true in the UAE as it is in other leading markets around the globe. And as companies look to attract top talent in a competitive market, they’re going the extra mile to create the best office spaces possible.
One outfit helping them create those spaces is Office Inspirations. Founded a decade ago, the company has done work for organisations as diverse as Mastercard MEA, Dell EMC, and Pepsi.
We recently got the chance talk to Lucie Salou, marketing manager at the workspace solutions provider. She told us about Office Inspirations’ approach to creating workplaces, why your workspace should reflect your brand identity, and what the future of workplace design might look like.
Salou confirms that organisations in the UAE have dramatically changed their approach to workplace designs over the past decade or so.
These organisations, she told us, “are adding more spaces that feel like home, reflecting their culture – with the right balance between transparency and privacy – to retain and attract talent, increase employee performance and engagement.”
Interestingly, this isn’t just true of commercial organisations. Office Inspirations also works extensively in the education space where, Salou says, the aim is to “create high performance, active learning spaces that enhance student engagement and success”.
In both spaces, she says, Office Inspirations aims to take a holistic approach:
“We believe inspiring environments provide greater stimulation for the mind, leading to better ideas and higher aspirations.”
“Work has changed but most work environments haven’t,” she points out. “The workplace needs to provide an ecosystem of spaces that support the new ways people are working”.
“What was traditionally considered as the workplace is changing,” the Office Inspiration marketing manager adds. “We can no longer create the same spaces and expect different results. We need to redefine what the office means and change it”.
This changing approach to the workplace, Salou says, actually draws on something we’ve always known:
“Place shapes behaviour and behaviour over time is culture. Building the right culture has never been more important than it is now in this global, mobile 24/7 world”.
Forget the gimmicks
For Office Inspirations, Salou says, using space to create culture is very different to simply throwing in fun elements such as ball pits and slides.
“Each company has their own unique culture,” she told us. “You cannot simply copy and paste a “cool” office design to make it work. The workspace reflects your brand identity and it can be a critical lever in communicating an organisation’s brand to employees and visitors”.
When it comes to creating an environment that employees thrive in and feel inspired by, Salou says, “the workplace needs to thoughtfully consider and address the different aspects of employee well-being and happiness”.
“Think about the Maslow’s pyramid – in order to reach the top goals, it is essential to cover the basics and essential needs of a functional workspace before making it inspirational”.
Walking the walk
One way Office Inspirations demonstrates its ability in this regard is by using its own offices as a kind of living showroom.
“Rather than having a static showroom,” Salou said, “our space demonstrates a real working situation allowing clients to fully understand and see the systems and solutions in operation”.
“As our office space is always changing and evolving,” she pointed out, “our team can try different solutions, various products and experiment at their own pace the various ways of working”.
There are other advantages to this situation.
According to Salou, it “fosters a strong agile culture, resilient to change. Agile work helps our team to adapt quickly with rapid learning cycles improving the outcome and team spirit”.
Equally important is the fact that it gives the Office Inspirations team an opportunity a chance to trial any new products they might recommend to clients.
Finding the future
Looking forward, the Office Inspirations team believes that Steelcase’s Learning + Innovation Centre in Munich, Germany (nicknamed “LINC”) offers the most likely glimpse of the future of the office.
Given access to the centre because it’s an authorised Steelcase seller, Salou says the Office Inspirations team was taken with how LINC “was designed as an ecosystem of spaces, to intentionally encourage people to move throughout the space depending on the task at hand”.
Additionally, she pointed out, it allows “employees to better share insights, experiment around ideas and risk failure, as a path to learning with successful outcomes”.
Ultimately, it “serves as an organisational incubator where people can build stronger networks with each other and more effectively collaborate with counterparts around the world”.
If Office Inspirations can mirror that kind of environment in the workspaces it designs for its clients, then we may see more people than ever clamouring to work in the UAE.