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How to create change one behavior at a time.

Mission Space: How to Create the Ideal Work Environment

At Marketing for Change, we know how important our work environment is to the creative, productive, fun and caring culture we want to nurture and grow. So last year, we decided to take the Fun, Easy, Popular methodology that we use with our clients and leverage it to explore how to make an ideal work environment for ourselves. Our Space Odyssey had begun.

Pinpointing what inspires positive behavior change is our agency’s thing. We believe in the power of behavioral determinants to influence what people do. One of those determinants is Environment. In an office environment, the space is almost like an additional coworker. The space around us can influence (positively or negatively) how colleagues interact with one another, and affect how we think and feel. Even a seemingly simple action, like placing a dirty dish in the sink, can offend and spark a passive-aggressive response: “Who was lazy enough to refuse to put their mug in the dishwasher?”

Last year, our agency decided to launch an internal Innovations Team just as one of our Florida-based teams was moving into a new office. Without a set blueprint, we harnessed the opportunity to explore how we think about our work environment, company-wide.

We documented a definition for our first undertaking – our “innovision” – and shared it with our colleagues, along with an anonymous workspace survey to generate priorities, challenges and potential solutions for a better work environment.  

What's our expression in space?Our findings reinforced much of what we already knew about why people love working at M4C (flexible work schedule, friendly office culture). But our survey also revealed a need to talk about some unwritten rules at play (is it ever OK to ignore your email?), and dig into where official policies were supported or undermined by office social norms (can you really work out at lunch?). We distilled our work environment values into four “space-a-pillars” that are tied to our broader company mission.

The four space-a-pillars

Using the pillars as a guide, we created definitions for our essential workspaces for every office based on the diverse and common needs of our projects and work styles.

Defining workspaces

We shared the space-a-pillars, essential workspaces and proposed activities to bring the values to life during an annual company-wide retreat, where our staff of 25 came together from across the country to … challenge one another at bubble ball.

M4C Team in bubble balls

Now that we’re back in our separate offices in Tallahassee and Orlando, Fla., Philadelphia, Pa., and Alexandria, Va., employees will have the chance to engage in new activities to optimize their workspaces to fit their own diverse needs — like consulting with an HR manager on their Nest and designating a quiet room for the Phone Booth .

Coming next: We pilot an interactive office audit — a Space Oddit(y) — and share our learnings. Stay tuned for part two of the Innovations Team blog series to find out how we turned sticky notes into the new “like” button for our office spaces.  

Maggie Lawrence is a digital strategist at Marketing for Change and is happy to run the dishwasher once in a while.

Check out our Recommendations for Workplace Innovations here.

Space-a-pillars resource

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