Moving Offices; how to Move the Culture, too

The inspiration for this post comes from a chat I recently had with Rod, the director of our Digital Innovation Group. While I have been tasked with helping to make sure our move to our new offices is seamless and fun, that the offices are clean and welcoming, and that everyone knows where they sit, Rod was looking at things from a different angle.

How can we move the culture of the office?

I wasn’t sure how to answer Rod’s question immediately, but as we talked further, it became clear that, yes, our current offices and the way we used them wasn’t the most supportive for the people who came there everyday. It’s not about respecting the office for the office’s sake, it was about respecting the office for the TEAM’s sake.

So, what’s our plan? We gathered as the “new space team” and started talking about the initial topics. Given a new office space, what would someone expect or need upon arrival?¬† It was a great discussion including everything from knowing where they were to sit, to where the bathrooms are, to finding office supplies, connecting to printers and locating first aid kits and emergency exits. Catering breakfast, providing candy at their desks, and perhaps some balloons would make the move more festive, too.

Then I had Rod bring up the topic of company culture. We had the perfect setting. We were in one of our conference rooms whose whiteboards were covered with old meeting sketches; so caked on and dried up there was little hope of getting the boards really clean again. Notes from various team meetings overlapped others; ghosts of notes from meetings past were everywhere. So, when Rod brought up the idea that we can move and reestablish  our culture, and someone asked what he meant, we simply had to point to the walls around us.

Again, it’s not about the fact we have a shiny new office that we need to cherish, but we need to make that office work for the team. Reestablishing basics like cleaning off a whiteboard after every meeting means that the room is ready for the next group to come in and be effective. The team could bank on being able to gather and brainstorm and have the appropriate tools to do so – including a clean whiteboard.

So, here’s to a new office, new furniture, a fresh coat of paint AND a spiffed up way of working together.

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