Personalising your co-working space and reflecting brand values: how to do it well



The way in which we work is changing. The rapid progression of technology has enabled remote and flexible working, and the rise of the gig-economy has meant that the traditional working hours of 9-5 are no longer necessarily seen as a typical working day. With these changes in working culture, the environment in which we work is changing too, and modern offices are personalising more than ever to reflect the culture of their incumbents.

The importance of personalisation in the modern workplace

Having carried out some research into this topic, we found that 39% of business owners felt that style and design was the most important factor for them when they were deciding on their own office space. Additionally, 82% agreed that a creative work environment is crucial to a successful business. Clearly, the office is no longer just a space occupied by businesses to put a roof over the head of their employees during working hours, but they have evolved into areas full of personality that reflect individual brand cultures.

In many ways, co-working has been a key driver in the evolution and rise of modern working. Co-working brands such as WeWork have made the office a place that can be ‘cool’ with areas where workers are happy to hang-out in their spare time, echoing the ethos of the company. Indeed, for many potential employees the state of the working environment can be a ‘make-or-break’ factor when they are deciding where they want to work.

WeWork in Paddington

Which Brands are doing this well?

Among the many articles about office spaces out there, Work Design Magazine published some great examples of office spaces that really reflect a certain brand or company culture. Here are two examples from the article that are often taken as a reference point for office design, even a couple of years further down the line:

Vice Toronto's HQ

A great example of a space which reflects its brand’s vibe really nicely is VICE’s Toronto office. VICE has always been a little different for a media organisation, and they emphasize that in this HQ. In a departure from the start-up feel that many HQs are adopting, the office instead channels an eclectic and irreverent feel that echoes the brand and breaks tradition. Many pieces of furniture in the space are custom-made, and executives are seated at the same long tables as their staff, removing that sense of hierarchy. The best piece of personalisation may well be that the spaces and lighting are primed to provide film ready shots for any shooting that needs to be done in the space spontaneously.

Lego Denmark

Lego are another brand who have done an amazing job in creatively transforming their space to reflect who they are. You need only to walk in to realise that you are in Lego’s world. Staying true to their ethos of inspiring and developing the leaders of tomorrow, Lego built their HQ in Denmark embracing their imaginative nature. A sense of play is encouraged with open areas and sofas that encourage group work, while an indoor garden and mini golf course on the roof are designed to inspire imagination and creativity. Meanwhile, themes like real moveable and configurable workstations stay true to the products they are so well known for.

How can occupiers and providers work together to personalise their spaces?

Of course, for providers and occupiers of co-working spaces, personalising the workspaces could be more difficult. VICE and LEGO owned the spaces themselves, so were free to do what they wanted with it. However, in a co-working world a balance needs to be struck between catering for a wide variety of businesses, while simultaneously creating a distinctive space for your brand. Nevertheless, there are plenty of ways this can be done in a simple, yet effective way.

First of all, use art! Look at the way LEGO’s office was transformed by colour. It does not take much effort, but a splash of colour on the floor, or images on the walls can add so much personality to the workspace. Occupiers can really drive home their brand’s ethos with some well-placed and well-chosen artwork. To keep things fresh, there are companies that offer "art subscriptions" for offices to rotate their art every 3,4, or 6 month – an example:

Another way to reflect the vision of the business without wholesale changes is through furniture. Note VICE’s wonderful custom-made furniture, and the effect that has on the whole dimension of the space. Many spaces will have the standard homogeneous items dotted throughout the office, with the eye purely on functionality. However, the other eye should be looking at ways the furniture should help their brand stand out – whether this be walking desks for brands that encourage activity, or plenty of plants for environmentally friendly businesses. Whatever your niche, look at how your ‘functional’ equipment can double up as a brand-builder.

Finally, some providers are beginning to look at unique scents for their own spaces. This is a fantastic creative way to build a strong association with a brand beyond the traditional channels. While  plastering logos all over walls may be effective, the businesses occupying the space may never feel that the office is truly theirs. By associating serviced offices brands with a scent instead, this could add a personal dimension that helps workers feel more at home. It is yet to be seen however, the effect a scent will have on those workers with acute senses of smell….


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