How Does Office Design Affect Your Company Culture

The way an office looks is of the utmost importance to its current and prospective employees and visitors. They will view the office as a reflection of the company’s values and work environment. Employees spend 40 hours a week in the office and will want a healthy and comfortable work environment. Research shows that employees that are happy with their company culture are 12% more productive than those who aren’t.

Workers will be dissatisfied if your company’s culture doesn’t match how it presents itself. Most employees consider company values when deciding on a job and want to see those values in action, like when a company that supports collaboration includes an open floor plan for the office.

What Is Company Culture?

Company culture is how your company is defined and seen by its employees. It consists of your company’s values, practices, goals and attitudes, and it shapes employee behaviors. When your company’s culture aligns with its workers’ values, the workers will be more motivated and produce higher quality work. If a company’s culture doesn’t reflect its values, employees are more likely to leave or produce low-quality work.

Several factors influence company culture, including:

  • Core values: Employees need to see your company’s core values reflected in their work and the office, or they will assume the values are for show and feel professionally unfulfilled.
  • Perks and benefits: The perks and benefits offered to employees must reflect your company’s ideals. If your company supports wellness, you need to offer a perk or benefit related to that.
  • Employees: It’s crucial to hire employees that share the essential elements of your company’s culture, but still bring unique talents and traits to the mix. 
  • Promotes curiosity, health, teamwork and respect: The culture will be strong if your company promotes these aspects.
  • Worker interactions: The way workers interact with each other determines if they think your company places value on autonomy or teamwork.
  • Design: Office design affects company culture through aesthetic elements that can foster things like collaboration or focused work. If your company knows what culture it wishes to promote, it is easier to design a workplace to reflect those principles.
How the Workplace Affects Behavior

The goal of any company is to foster a positive, productive and safe work environment for its employees. Design affects company culture, so it plays a vital part in determining workplace behavior. If an office is more open, it will promote a collaborative work environment, and its employees will adjust their behavior to match the work environment.

Each work culture reflects different values. The values of creative, competitive, control and collaborative work environments are:

  1. Creative or adhocracy: Creative work environments are adaptive and innovative. They value creativity, risk-taking and individuality that contribute to market growth and company success. The design needs to be hybrid and flexible, including areas for work, reflection and relaxation. Creative offices are open, and so are individual workspaces, so workers feel encouraged to share ideas without the formality of command.
  2. Competitive or market: A competitive culture values getting results, reaching targets and meeting quotas. It has a chain of command, and there are degrees of separation among employees and executives. The office has individual and group spaces that encourage formal and informal work environments.
  3. Control or hierarchy: A control culture is a traditional work environment that prioritizes direction. It values stability and features a set chain of command and multiple degrees of separation between employees and executives. Employees follow standardized procedures for maximum consistency and quality. The office space is fixed and formal. Everyone has an individual workstation, and there are high levels of enclosure.
  4. Collaborative or clan: Collaborative cultures prioritize communication. Barriers between workers and executives don’t exist, and mentorships are encouraged. The office area must be open and prioritize group space over personal space. This demonstrates flexibility and emphasizes teamwork. Collaborative offices work to de-emphasize hierarchy.
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How Design Affects Culture

An important factor in company culture is design. The right design aligns your company’s values with the look and feel of the office space to promote the culture you want. The different design elements for company culture include:


Social workspaces promote teamwork and socialization. They usually feature lounges where employees of any rank can go to complete their work. Due to the relaxed environment, employees are more likely to get to know others from various departments, share ideas and work together.

Furniture that promotes a social work environment includes:

  • Sectional: Employees can gather around a small table while sitting on a sectional. Sectionals are comfortable and encourage socialization because of the proximity of the workers. They maximize space with their L-shaped design.
  • Armchairs: Decorating a lounge area with armchairs creates a relaxed atmosphere that encourages socialization. The armchairs can be as close or as far apart as needed and can have small tables in front or to the side of them.

A flexible work environment caters to the needs of different people and promotes choice to help them accomplish their goals. A relaxed work environment combats boredom and apathy, which creates a positive atmosphere that leads to better engagement and productivity.

Flexible work environments include furniture such as:

  • Height adjustable workspaces: Height adjustable workspaces offer employees the choice to work while standing or sitting and adjust the desk to fit their needs for increased comfort and improved circulation. Browse WB Wood’s selection of workspaces, including height adjustable ones.
  • Seating: By offering various options for seating, employees can choose to leave their workstations in favor of more comfortable and relaxing ones, such as an armchair with a table.
Structural Aspects

The structural aspects of a company determine how its employees communicate. A company that wished to promote communication would give managers and employees the same furniture and tools. If the company expects to adhere to structure, it might prefer cubicles for the employees and offices for the higher-ups.

Office design factors that influence communication in the workplace include:

  • Dividers
  • Cubicles
  • Amount of enclosed spaces
  • The ratio of individual to group work areas
Colors and Branding

Using brand colors and logos in office design reinforces company culture by leaving an impression on employees and visitors. Colors have psychological effects on mood and can influence employees:

  • Red: Red is an eye-catching color. It is associated with strength, courage, warmth and energy.
  • Yellow: Yellow is associated with playfulness and happiness.
  • Green: Green is calming and promotes harmony and equilibrium.
  • Blue: Blue encourages intellectualism, logic and reason. It is a soothing, calm color.

The right technology must be available in individual workstations for workers to effectively perform their jobs. Additional technology in the workplace can contribute to collaboration and a cohesive work environment, such as:

  • TV screens: TV screens in social and collaborative spaces can be programmed to broadcast key data, metrics or information. This relays the same information to all employees quicker than a meeting would.
  • Radio: A workplace radio can help employees relax and listen to music while they work. Music makes the day seem to go by faster and can put workers in a happy, productive mood.
Transparency and Control

Transparent cultures reflect transparency with more open spaces and reduced barriers. Control workspaces focus on privacy by having individual workstations with dividers, furniture and sound-absorbing panels.

Transparent cultures may have informal meeting spaces and project rooms, while control workspaces would have conference rooms and formal project rooms.

Different Designs for Different Cultures

When designing an office, you need to consider company culture. Visitors base their first impressions of an office on how they feel about its design. Based on the design, they will decide what the company’s most important values are, so the design needs to reflect those values. Here are some ideas when designing an office based on company culture:

1. Creative or Adhocrocy Culture Design

The goal of a creative culture is creativity and innovation, so it needs to feel fun and inspiring. Fun office décor and accessories give the impression of a relaxing work environment. Creative cultures value flexibility, so different types of workstations are a necessity. Individual workstations mixed with comfortable, collaborative spaces increase workplace flexibility.

2. Collaborative or Clan Culture Design

A collaborative culture has either an open or hybrid floor plan. You don’t use dividers with the open floor plan, and all cubicles are visible. In the hybrid floor plan, dividers allow individual work in specific areas while sectioning off open spaces and lounges that encourage collaboration.

3. Control or Hierarchy Culture Design

A control culture design must be structured and employees need individual workstations. The atmosphere doesn’t need to be comfortable, so the breakroom should be the only place to include lounge furniture that would encourage relaxation. In this design, the conference room is the only designated place for collaboration, and it features a conference table with comfortable conference chairs for meetings.

4. Competitive or Market Culture Design

Competitive cultures focus on individual results, so they must encourage privacy and independent work. The use of interiors and dividers can section off different areas of the office, allowing individual workstations to be separate from more comfortable and relaxing areas. Accessories and colors promote the company’s brand and make the office more welcoming. 

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How to Utilize Design to Improve Company Culture

Company culture is linked to design, so utilizing design improves company culture. These five aspects of design contribute to company culture improvements:


The layout of an office is a major aspect of design and one of the first considerations. In a control culture, there might be cubicles on the main floor and offices in the back to separate the employees from the higher-ups. Even if you and your employees are used to the office layout, it doesn’t mean it works as well as it could.

If you are interested in changing your layout, employees can provide ideas and suggestions to improve the layout so it better represents your company’s values and increases work efficiency and comfort.

Office Furniture

No one is a fan of outdated, worn or uncomfortable office furniture. New office furniture can revitalize your office making it appear fresh, sleek and professional. Workers will be more excited and willing to come to work if they are comfortable. Modern office furniture comes in many shapes and designs. You can make your office unique and enjoyable by purchasing furniture that is different from the traditional desks and chairs.


If there is an opportunity to add your branding to the office design, do it. Incorporating your brand will bring out the pride in your workers and reinforce your company’s goals and mission. You can decorate the office in company colors or add a mural that tells your company’s history.


Art benefits the workplace and its workers. It reduces stress, enhances brain function, stimulates productivity, develops creative thinking and reflects your company image. Additionally, having art in the workplace helps:

  • Reduce stress: Images that invite feelings of calm and relaxation, like nature or landscape pieces, will reduce stress.
  • Enhance brain function: When people analyze art, they stimulate unconscious and conscious brain function. You can make it fun by printing out a daily art piece for your workers to interpret and discuss with coworkers. You can even offer prizes for the most unique or meaningful interpretation.
  • Stimulate productivity: The brain reacts positively to beautiful images, increasing happiness and stimulating productivity.
  • Develop creative thinking: When your workers analyze art pieces, then discuss their thoughts with others, it helps them develop creative thinking skills.
  • Reflect your company image: A well-placed quote or art piece can reflect your company’s mission statement and values. After all, art tells a story.

If you want your company culture to focus on the health of your employees, you can promote wellness in your office design. This will increase worker satisfaction because 87% of workers want healthier work environments. You can encourage a healthy work environment by improving air quality, lighting, fitness, comfort and mind.

  • Air quality: Optimizing your office’s indoor air quality is vital to the health of your employees. You can achieve this by decorating your office with indoor plants or using an air purifier.
  • Lighting: When you design your office, ensure you let in natural light. Balancing natural and artificial light will help light the office well and prevent headaches and eye strain. Natural light also has a positive effect on moods.
  • Fitness: You can promote the wellness of your workers by encouraging them to walk around the office, use sit-or-stand desks or include a gym.
  • Comfort: Your employees will feel comfortable at the office if the design matches your company’s culture and the furniture is comfortable.
  • Mind: Art pieces will help stimulate your workers’ minds and promote tranquility and meditation.
Contact WB Wood for Your Design Needs

WB Wood is a prominent furniture dealership and management company in the United States. It has been in business since 1905 and is a best-in-class dealer of Haworth, an innovator in design, ergonomics and environmental commitment. WB Wood can assist with your design and architectural needs if required. Contact Us online or call 212-647-6200 for custom office furniture solutions or browse our wide selection of office furniture online.