Form vs. Function: Does Your Work Environment Reflect Your Brand?

Marketing managers are by no stretch of the imagination interior decorators, but it bears mention that first impressions count with your customers and prospective customers. Do your decorating scheme and floor plan reflect your brand? How can you reinforce your brand through the choices you make? From the executive offices to conference rooms to your personal space, design matters and is a reflection of your company.

Central to this theory is the realization that our environment has a direct result on our productivity level – and we think it’s safe to say that every company, no matter the size, wants to be perceived as being on top of their game, right? Hence, the proliferation of the open office floor plan, popularized by companies like Google, including the introduction of such innovations as privacy pods and multipurpose, sustainable modules.

In his just-released book, Willpower Doesn’t Work; author Benjamin Hardy takes this concept to the next level:  he maintains that the only way to stop just surviving and truly thrive in today’s business climate and the world at large is to create and control your environment.

The Myth of the Eight-Hour Day.

The traditional nine-to-five workday is passé; it worked when physical labor was central to earning a paycheck, but in our current knowledge-based economy it is outmoded. Many employers have responded in kind by instituting a shorter work week and allowing staffers to work remotely from their homes. 

Hardy, a Ph.D. candidate in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, speaks directly to our industry, saying that the best creative work requires “a blend of intensely tight focus for one to four hours, followed by a relaxed mind wandering in a different environment from where you were doing intensely focused work.”

The bottom line? Rotate your environments. He cites a study in which only 16 percent of respondents reported getting creative insight while at work; ideas flourished when the individual was at home, in traffic, or during downtime. “The most creative ideas aren’t going to come while sitting in front of your monitor,” says Scott Birnbaum, former president of Samsung Semiconductor.

Never Work in the Same Place Two Days in a Row.

Doing the same thing hour after hour in the same environment dulls the brain.  Hardy maintains that when you notice yourself starting to zone out, it’s time to move – often the very act of walking into a different space can encourage a plethora of ideas to spring forth. Whether you move to a conference room, change your chair, or go completely off-site, rotating the scenery will get your neurons firing more efficiently. 

Also, providing yourself with frequent mental breaks between intense work sessions — not spent surfing the Net or on your phone – will give you more energy and creative insights.

If You Don’t Shape Your Environment, It Will Shape You.

A person’s environment shapes every aspect of their lives, Hardy says, from their income to their value system to their diet to their recreation choices. “Your potential is shaped by what surrounds you,” he claims. So while the air hockey table in the corner or the new cappuccino station in the center of your office space may be cool, ultimately, it’s up to the individual to take the initiative on maximizing the power of an environment.

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