Distributed teams are increasingly becoming a challenge within the modern workplace. Digital advancements means global reach is becoming wider and easier.
When we couple this with the war on talent and the changing nature of work, it means that businesses are having to accommodate and adapt to a more widely dispersed workforce.
So how can you adapt to a global workforce with an office that doesn’t house all of your employees? Here are a few ways we worked with Reward Gateway in their new office design (the headquarters, which will eventually be mirrored in the other six offices in five countries) to tackle some common challenges:
Recruiting and retaining talent
In the current climate, businesses are following talent. With technological advancements, employers are no longer constricted to employing locally to an office. This in turn has meant that the talent pool available to them has increased. With a more diverse workforce spread across multiple locations, how can businesses leverage this and get the best from their people, whilst also keeping them motivated and happy at work?
Creating a company culture
Sharing the same values can work as a tool to bring people together and enhance a company culture. Reward Gateway have eight unique values, which their people both believe and adhere to, in turn creating a united foundation across their dispersed teams. One of their values is to “Think Global,” whereby their people need to work together across departmental, geographical and cultural boundaries. Building and sharing a unique brand identity means individuals will be united to achieve a common goal. It’s all well and good sharing the same values, but it’s how these are communicated verbally and non-verbally which is the key to user adoption.
When designing Reward Gateway’s London office, we needed to consider how the physical environment can support their identity, values and core messaging. Staff engagement, employee retention, and open and honest communications are of vital importance to Reward Gateway. These core values have been mirrored in the design of their brand new London workspace, with their mission to “let's make the world a happier place to work” prominently displayed on their office walls. Furthermore, their corporate branding colour palette, furniture selections and the multifunctional workplace design have been streamlined across each of their workplaces. This ensures that the user, whether in London, Boston, Birmingham, or any other location, will have the same experience within each workplace.
Supporting culture through workplace design
The way a workplace is designed plays a vital role in supporting the people who work within it. Although there may be small design differences between offices, which help support varying climates and cultures, for example, installing a mud room in Reward Gateway’s Boston office to support their cold and harsh winters, the way in which each individual building is designed will fundamentally follow a similar scheme.
Each of Reward Gateway’s global offices Push the Boundaries (another of their values) of focus, collaboration, contemplation and performance. Creating a variety of working platforms and multi-use spaces, such as collaboration areas, breakout zones and quiet rooms, has supported their mobile workforce and promotes a sense of organisational energy. This new way of working not only supports internal communication but also enables people travelling between offices to quickly set up and work in whichever workplace they find themselves at, in turn, enhancing productivity. When people are not in the same physical location, digital connectivity is essential in ensuring communication and productivity remains as high when working virtually.
Technology enabling global teams
Technology is the biggest enabler in any workplace. The advancement of digital communications has helped support and develop how the modern workplace is used. With a shift towards a workplace being used as a variety of zones, which are utilised for different tasks, technology plays a critical role in ensuring specific areas are fit for purpose.
To bring Reward Gateway’s global network together, we had to understand their way of working and how technology could support their business from the project outset. State-of-the-art technology has been used throughout each of their locations. Specifically in their London office, a fully equipped TV and photography studio has been installed, and meeting rooms have been enhanced with the latest cable and controller-free video conferencing technology. This has helped London-based employees to more easily collaborate with the 330 global workforce.
With the number of globally dispersed teams continually increasing, businesses will need to learn to work in a more flexible and agile way. This will not only help support productivity and enhance communication, but will also retain the talented people businesses have working for them.
Further digital advancements will be fundamental in making this happen, and with the development of location aware systems and business-specific social networking systems on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how innovation will inform the future global workplace.
Andrea Williams Wedberg is the Creative Director for Area Sq. Area Sq are experts in office design, refurbishment & workplace fit-out services.
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