New working environments (8) - room and strategy
In the eighth part of the series "New Working Environments", we deal with the question to what extent we can use our environment - i.e. space and surroundings - to make the best possible use of our corporate strategy and existing resources.
Many companies define themselves by their own purpose and want to fulfill the customer benefit in the best possible way. In a healthy organization, they achieve this through hybrid processes, among other things, which means that a combination of different approaches makes sense in order to enable value creation under changing conditions.
The strategy of a company is the totality of all activities of the organization to achieve the organization's purpose in a sustainable way and the goals derived from it. It is based on the mission statement in which the purpose of the organization and its values are described.
A market- and resource-oriented strategy ensures meaning and survival on the way to achieving the vision of the future, taking into account the organization's responsibility towards employees, customers, society and the environment.
So much for our view on strategy in general. The question is, to what extent can space actually support the strategy of an organization?
Not only since the "FridaysforFuture" demonstrations of the "Generation Greta" many companies have understood that the topic of sustainability will dominate the next decades.
They have therefore integrated sustainability as a central component of their strategic orientation. This includes ecological, economic and social aspects. In this note we present some set screws which, together with the right environment, can deepen these aspects by designing the space.
Ecological aspects can be omnipresent in the strategy. Sustainability can be reflected in the architecture of the building in various facets. On the one hand, the use of building materials is one factor. Renewable raw materials such as wood or clay can be used instead of conventional concrete. Roofs and facades can be greened and contribute to air improvement. In the interior design, ecological materials can also be taken into account. For example, by using certified, fast-growing woods such as bamboo etc.
The use of renewable energies such as solar for electricity and hot water production can improve a company's CO2 balance if, for example, the roof surfaces of a production plant are equipped with photovoltaics. Choosing a heating system with combined heat and power generation or your own biogas plant can also be a long-term investment in a better tomorrow. The use of LED light sources and the automatic switch-off of electrical appliances is already possible for small companies.
A sustainable strategy can, for example, be felt in the selection of meals for employees. The selection of regional and seasonal dishes in organic quality in the cafeteria, tap water to drink instead of beverage crates, reusable dishes, and paper from sustainable production are already standard in many organizations today.
Sustainability also has a positive effect on the economy. Especially in corona times, the possibility of the "home office" has emerged as an effective economic measure for both employees and companies. On the one hand, employees save on commuting, which has a positive effect in terms of fuel, CO2 emissions and time. On the other hand, companies can reduce office space, since concentrated work is also possible at home and virtual meetings can be organized using platforms such as "Microsoft Teams" or similar.
Virtual meetings instead of air travel protect the environment immensely and offer considerable cost savings. For example, a company can promote cycling among its employees by providing company bicycles and large bicycle storage areas including charging stations for e-bikes instead of maintaining a fleet of vehicles. This is not only good for the environment, but the employees also do something for their health. Car-sharing parking spaces on the company premises encourage carpooling instead of the sole use of one's own car.
Structured "waste management" with consistent waste separation can reduce disposal costs. Less waste and paperless processes also save resources. In the building, clear marking of waste containers and rooms can already lead to a significant improvement. Power saving mode, self-sufficient energy supply by solar, lean processes in general reduce energy and disposal costs and reduce environmental pollution.
Creation of "communities
Sustainably oriented companies increasingly include the neighborhood in their strategy. One example is company-owned daycare centers that can be visited by employees' children as well as by local residents. Sports centers or a cafeteria open to the public are another way of connecting with the community and creating a sense of community.
Cooperations with local organic farmers to grow their own vegetables on the company's premises are further examples of sustainability in the neighborhood. This not only creates the idea of a company site, but also the idea of a "campus" that is integrated into its surroundings. This merges fluently into the neighborhood, connects and proactively supports a lively exchange with the neighborhood. As a positive side effect, people have a connection to the company and employees to their surroundings.
The strategic orientation of a company can be massively supported by its environment. The coming generations in particular will attach much more importance to lived sustainability. In order to attract and retain employees, the "community" factor will become increasingly important. The examples mentioned above show just a few of the many ways in which buildings and space can make a visible contribution to a market-, resource-oriented and thus sustainable overall strategy.
That is why a rethink is called for. The authenticity of the company's long-term orientation is crucial for success. "Green Washing" inevitably leads sooner or later to damage to the company's image. Authenticity can always be achieved if the responsible decision-makers* are serious about it, even if short-term EBIT losses are to be feared. This creates a culture that supports the strategy significantly and does not corrupt it. This holistic approach is completed in space and architecture, see Fig. 2.
Figure 2: Interplay of strategy, structure and culture (REFLECT)
When all the gears mesh, an organization can become healthy and fit for the future. We would be pleased to support you in this valuable work and offer a 1.5-day workshop on the topic of "Developing a market and resource-oriented strategy". Or simply contact us if you are interested.