Abstract

The global business world has shed a bright light on cultural differences and generated extensive examination of values and behaviors around the world. Yet despite obvious differences in the design and utilization of office environments, little attention has been given to the implications of culture on space design. Multinational companies, unaware of the cultural ramifications of culture-specific design, often transplant workplace layouts from their home locations to other countries around the world, with little thought to local culture, climate and employees’ needs and expectations. The results can be workplaces that are unappealing, dysfunctional and stressful. What are the key trends in workplace behaviors and design in different countries and cultures, and can companies leverage this knowledge to design effective work environments? How can workplaces be glocal: reflecting the best of both the global organization and local culture? Can space help reconcile cultural differences? To address these issues, the Office Code project investigated the factors that influence the design of workplaces in different countries and cultures. An international team of business leaders, work process experts, and researchers in eleven countries in Asia, Europe, and North America worked to understand typical workspaces and work cultures in those countries, and the implications of culture for workspace design. The goal of the study was not simply to establish an understanding of cultural similarities and differences, but to provide actionable principles that help create culturally appropriate workplaces. This paper describes how we translated cultural insights about work behaviors, values and use of space into workplace design principles. The resulting framework provides the basis for understanding and creating culturally attuned work environments in a global business world.

Keywords

workplace, culture, values, innovation

COinS
 
Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

Culture, Workplace and Design: The office code unveiled

The global business world has shed a bright light on cultural differences and generated extensive examination of values and behaviors around the world. Yet despite obvious differences in the design and utilization of office environments, little attention has been given to the implications of culture on space design. Multinational companies, unaware of the cultural ramifications of culture-specific design, often transplant workplace layouts from their home locations to other countries around the world, with little thought to local culture, climate and employees’ needs and expectations. The results can be workplaces that are unappealing, dysfunctional and stressful. What are the key trends in workplace behaviors and design in different countries and cultures, and can companies leverage this knowledge to design effective work environments? How can workplaces be glocal: reflecting the best of both the global organization and local culture? Can space help reconcile cultural differences? To address these issues, the Office Code project investigated the factors that influence the design of workplaces in different countries and cultures. An international team of business leaders, work process experts, and researchers in eleven countries in Asia, Europe, and North America worked to understand typical workspaces and work cultures in those countries, and the implications of culture for workspace design. The goal of the study was not simply to establish an understanding of cultural similarities and differences, but to provide actionable principles that help create culturally appropriate workplaces. This paper describes how we translated cultural insights about work behaviors, values and use of space into workplace design principles. The resulting framework provides the basis for understanding and creating culturally attuned work environments in a global business world.

 

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