Half the time it’s management, not the design that makes the workplace stink

There is a general consensus around the workplace cognoscenti that design can and does impact upon the productivity and effectiveness of people in the workplace. That’s reflected in research, data and anecdotal exchanges, online and at events. What’s not often done is in linking this data to HR results, from employee surveys. While driven by professionally conscientious HR teams, their goal is shaped by the ever present desire to improve performance and hence save cash and enhance margins.  In other words it’s a management initiative. But half the time it’s management who are the problem.

Either they act like a damp proof membrane blocking good ideas going up and down or they are just plain ignorant.

Here’s an example. At a ‘team meeting’ where an HR leader did an informative but abridged session on behaviours’, personality types and team composition, the director of said team ended up by verbally attacking one colleague and sledging another. She had either totally ignored the piece on behaviour and personality or chose flagrantly to display her ‘red’ ‘lets do it’ ‘big bull’ leadership style – at whatever cost  – to a captive audience of nine junior staff and me, the tame consultant.

The team was not impressed. I wasn’t surprised. Disappointed but not surprised.

So, it leaves a dilemma. You can improve the design of the space. You can choose better biscuits, select free Lavazza coffee, distribute iPhones and iPads and encourage nomadic working. If your boss is a tosser and the IT is shite, the workplace still stinks.


andrew-brownAndrew Brown is a writer and consultant with communications consultancy Frank and Brown. He previously led the in-house team at Alfred McAlpine and is a former editor of FMX magazine.