Steelcase Says Office Design Should Reflect the Work Culture


With the holidays coming up, it’s always interesting to see how many different celebrations are recognized at this time of year. In November, there’s Dia de los Muertos (the Latin American Day of the Dead), All Saints Day, Al Hijra (the Muslim new year), and Diwali (the Festival of Lights). Then, December holds Bodhi day (celebrating the enlightenment of the Buddha), Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas, and Boxing Day. If you work in a large, diverse office, you might know different coworkers who celebrate all of these great traditions and more.

But diversity is something that can be recognized and supported all year long – especially if you are part of an international corporation. It’s all about understanding expectations for workplace behavior, consumer needs, and work styles in different cultures. Steelcase recently put together a “Culture@Work” article on one aspect of this expansive topic. It’s a fascinating look at how our thoughts regarding appropriate, productive office design need to shift when operating on a global scale. This approach requires looking at what employers value and what employees desire in a workspace.

A Few Examples

Germany is all about maximizing worker speed and efficiency. Acoustic comfort is given top priority and achievement or status is recognized with the provisioning of spacious private offices. In India, technology is king. Companies in this culture are interested in investing in the infrastructure that will support rapid growth in their burgeoning economy.

In the UK, office space around city centers is at a premium. Few new office structures can be built and expansion is limited by strict building codes. So, making the most of available square footage is essential. However, office overcrowding can lead to high turnover as employees seek better working conditions.

Are you opening up an office in a new country? What steps are you taking to ensure the space matches the local workplace culture? Let us know in the comments.


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