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Brief Published: 23 Jun 2016

Office Design for Happier, Healthier Workspaces

Hayworth's four office cultures: collaborate, create, control and compete

Architecture and design can support – or even change – company culture, according to new research from US office furniture giant Haworth. The report suggests physical workplaces that reflect and encourage specific organisational cultures can lead to better-motivated employees.

To maximise workspace utility, Haworth defines four types of office culture:

  • Collaborate: A ‘collaborate’ culture is best nurtured by a flexible environment with an organic layout, medium levels of enclosure, informal spaces and a low ratio of individual to group space.
  • Create: A ‘create’ culture is also aided by a highly flexible environment with an organic layout, informal group spaces and a low ratio of individual to group space, but responds best to low levels of enclosure. 
  • Control: A ‘control’ culture works best where there is a high ratio of individual to group space, more formal spaces with higher levels of enclosure, structured, symmetrical layouts and a less flexible environment. 
  • Compete: A ‘compete’ culture thrives with a medium ratio of individual to group spaces, a mixture of formal and informal spaces, low to medium levels of enclosure and more structured, symmetrical layouts.

Accurately identifying and representing the desired company culture is vital to smart design, explains Gabor Nagy, research programme manager at Haworth. For example, while whimsical Google-style workplace interiors are increasingly popular, playful office design may backfire if an organisation’s culture is more competitive than creative.

However, when design accurately facilitates, supports and reflects a company’s vision and values, it’s “a tangible opportunity to convert the office into a space that sets high performance standards", according to the report.

For a deeper dive into the brands reappraising today’s office space to foster greater productivity and prosperity, see The Living Workspace.