Change Management Part I: Cultural Change
We hear it from our clients and experience it in our own office – workplaces are evolving, and it is happening quicker than you can snap your fingers. Younger generations, particularly Millennials and the newly deemed, Gen Z, want to work differently and have more flexibility than any generation before them. Just looking at the single fact that 51% of them prefer to talk to co-workers face to face, has major implications on how an office must be structured to attract their interest, let alone keep them long-term. Having four generations in the workplace means companies have to find a balance to keep everyone happy. As architects and interior designers, we are constantly researching how to tackle this dilemma because it not only affects our internal office culture, recruiting, and retention, but also our clients’ efforts in those arenas.
Creating an envious office environment is more important than ever, especially considering the increasingly transient nature of professionals in upcoming generations. However for many in the moment, there is nothing scarier than change. To combat this fear which manifests in the form of employee rumors and leadership anxiety, you need to change the mentality by focusing not only on the physical change, but addressing the cultural change as well.
In 2010, M+A designed and transitioned to a new location, going through a cultural change ourselves. Through this intimate experience we learned that, while the unknown can be hard to adjust to, it’s also full with rich rewards in the form of: brand integration, social connectivity, collaborative space office-wide, and a rejuvenated culture. As many of our clients continue to embark on this journey of change, we continue to learn the best practices to create forward thinking workplaces that, aside from being attractive to younger generations, are more efficient and functional. These practices include:
- Workflow improvements
- Integrated branding signage
- Collaborative workstations
- Technology integration
- Teaming zones
- Amenity integration
Changing locations or updating an office space is without a doubt a major project, but transitioning the cultural changes that happen simultaneously as a result, needs to be addressed with the same level of attention and care. Herman Miller reports that 70% of change initiatives end in failure and culture related changes can be the most challenging and unpredictable, possibly because the intricacies are often overlooked or overshadowed by construction or the other physical elements of the transition. Cultural change must be handled through an organized process, so that it can be more exciting than daunting. Then you’ll find that projects involving elements of change management are actually the most rewarding. They instill in your employees trust and confidence in your leadership and make them less fearful of future change.
Change management can mean a lot of things for a wide variety of scenarios, but it’s vital when moving to a new location, consolidating into one location, rearranging existing space, or updating an existing work environment. And remember, share your vision for the project. A vision and its intriguing potential is something for employees to get excited about. When communicated correctly, it can help bring new life to a workplace and reinforce the meaning of company brand to employees.
* Be on the lookout for Part II of this blog where we’ll dig a little deeper and share our process for helping clients manage their facility and cultural changes.
by Mark Bryan
Associate, Senior Interior Designer
Mark is an energetic, creative and dedicated environmental graphics and interior designer at M+A. His favorite sports team is his alma mater: Virginia Tech University.