Moving day was finally here. The staff of Number TEN Architectural Group, a Winnipeg-based architectural firm [1] was ready to walk into their new office space and begin the arduous process of settling in. True, the move was only temporary, a relocation made necessary by renovations occurring to their existing 14,000 square foot office space, but it still had the potential to be stressful. After all, moving of any form is ranked as one of life’s most anxiety-inducing stressors.

So, imagine their employees’ surprise when they walked into their new temporary work-home and discovered the unexpected: a sign welcoming them to “Camp 10” along with gifts like camp mugs, toques, and camp snacks.

All sections of their temporary office were named in the spirit of the theme — boardrooms became “Airstream” and “Houseboat”, the reception area was dubbed “Registration,” and the waiting area was decked out with camp chairs, a fake fire pit and hanging beach balls!

The staff members were thrilled, and the transition to their new offices went well.

Setting up Camp 10.

But this smooth move was no happy accident—it was the result of a well-thought-out plan, designed specifically to reduce staff stress and maintain the relaxed and creative office culture that has helped Number TEN thrive for 65 years.

When it became clear that the renovation and a temporary relocation was in the cards, Number TEN got to work immediately.

Under the guidance of their leadership and with the assistance of the social and wellness committees, the Number TEN team was fully involved in the process of defining how the newly renovated space should look, feel and function.

Kelly Goodwin, one of our Certified Workplace Wellness Ambassadors, who leads TENstrong, their organization’s Wellness Program, has also completed the Fitwel® Ambassador Certification (a globally recognized program that promotes the optimization of buildings to support health and wellness among building users. Fitwel strategies include increasing access to natural daylight, incorporating direct and indirect LED lighting, upgrading mechanical systems, and providing a variety of workstyle options including multi-height tables and sit-stand workstations.)

Number TEN’s new office space will also create a more universally accessible workplace for staff and visitors alike.

But management didn’t stop there!

Knowing that their newly designed location would serve to foster the enhanced creativity and comfort for which their firm is known, they made it a priority to ensure their inclusive work culture thrived throughout their renovations.

So, leadership, along with the project team, scheduled a visioning session for staff to participate in (see below) which revealed their employees most relaxed when outdoors, in nature.

Ultimately, that is how the idea for Camp 10 was born.

Camp 10 bulletin board.

Engaging Employee Input for Inclusive Work Cultures

Clearly, it would not be appropriate for every company to transform its headquarters into indoor campgrounds — each organization is different and therefore requires a different culture. Still, there is an important lesson in this case study for any team of executives, Human Resources, or Corporate Wellness leaders.

An organization’s culture is defined as… “The everyday reality of organizational life. It is not the mission statement, your balance sheets or even the employee handbook alone. The culture is what we do, what we say, the way we behave, the way we treat each other, our products, customers, communities and ourselves.” [2]

A clear vision for your organization’s culture can help employees transition through stressful changes and moments of adversity.

A clear vision serves as a North Star for them — a constant in their work lives — and constants create comfort and a greater ability to adapt to change. More importantly, when employees are empowered to help shape their work culture (as was the case with Number TEN), the buy-in will be greater and the benefits exponential.

But for less creatively driven organizations, how might leadership inspire and cultivate a strong (and appropriate) work culture?

The process is quite simple, according to Jeffrey Hayzlett, who established a six-step road map in his contribution to the multi-authored book, “Entrepreneur Voices on Company Culture.” [2]

The first step for Hayzlett? You must begin with a purpose.

Ideally, an organization’s purpose should be established early in its inception and prior to the company start-up. To identify your company’s purpose, you have to know who or what your organization serves, and why. This answer should be authentic and unique to your organization.

Once your organization’s “purpose” is established, you need to co-create values and standards that will define your entire organization and do so via employee input throughout all levels of the organization. Your core values should be written and defined with clear language that will be used and understood by all.

Have CEOs Lead by Example

It’s great to write down your vision for the organization’s culture, but if top management doesn’t embrace that purpose and vision, no one else will either. That’s why Hayzlett’s third step to building a strong, vibrant work culture is having the CEO lead by example.

Executives who are authenicate, passionate and transparent about the mission of their organization are far more likely to inspire employee buy-in and engagement.

And, once employees are on-board with company culture, CEOs should seek out Cultural Ambassadors throughout all levels of the organization— employees who totally get the corporate culture and are dedicated to fostering it among their co-workers.

“Every company has them: employees who live, eat and breathe your culture and help everyone else understand who you are as a company and what you stand for. These employees are your biggest advocates because they love the company almost as much as you do — they are your cheerleaders.” [2]

When you find these cheerleaders, talk to them: find out from their perspective, why they love the company, and the factors contributing to or detracting from their work experience. Over time, these on-the-ground Ambassadors will be incredibly valuable, helping your organization stay true to its cultural vision even as your team grows or refocuses and projects shift.

Talking and listening to these Ambassadors feeds directly into the next of Hayzlett’s steps: clear, truthful communications.

Employees who are not initially consulted or apprised of organizational changes will quickly opt-out of creating a great company culture. By maintaining open communication, and sticking to core language and values, organizations can preserve a culture of positivity, even through tough changes, corporate transitions, and office moves, as in the case of Number TEN.

Which brings us to Hayzlett’s final building block for a strong work culture: treating people well.

It starts by communicating truthfully with employees (i.e. trust and credibility must be earned).

But it really goes beyond that!

Treating employees well is about recognizing achievements, fostering a respectful work culture, and most importantly, viewing them as people and valuable contributors to the organization’s success.

And, this most important factor should begin right at the point of hiring by looking beyond a candidate’s work experience to ensure that they are honest, thoughtful individuals who will work well with existing staff AND be a good fit for the established culture.

Embracing the above tenets, executives will be off to a great start in building an authentic, thriving work culture that fosters productivity, growth, and the success envisioned for their organizations.

Sources

[1] Number TEN. New Winnipeg Office Renovation Aims To Boost Design Culture.

[2] Hayzlett, Jeffrey. 6 Steps to Building a Strong Company Culture.

About the Author:

Lisa Kelly, President, Workplace Wellness Centre of Excellence (a division of KWC Inc.), has been cultivating healthy changes within workplaces and with personal clients for over 20 years. Through her Workplace Wellness Leadership Certification Series and Executive Wellness Leadership Programs, Lisa’s mission is to create an innovative and collaborative landscape for global workplace wellness that fosters employee-driven, results-oriented wellness solutions to benefit employers, employees, and communities at large.

About Number TEN:

Number TEN Architectural Group is an award-winning integrated practice of architecture, interior design, strategic advisory services, and planning with offices in Winnipeg and Victoria. For 65 years, Number TEN has been demonstrating leadership in design innovation and implementation, excelling in commercial, residential, institutional, hospitality, entertainment, education, and recreation design.

Winnipeg Office: 310-115 Bannatyne Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3B 0R3, Phone (204)942-0981

Kelly Goodwin, CWWA, Office Manager

Greg Hasiuk, BES, M. Arch., MRAIC, MAA, SAA, OAA, AAA, LEED®AP, Practice Leader/Partner

shares