This article distills key insights from Season 1, Episode 7 of True Understanding, a podcast that explores the strategies shaping workplaces of tomorrow.
In this episode of the True Understanding podcast, Rebecca Corliss and Omar Ramirez talk to Eric Kerr, a workplace strategy leader at DoorDash, about how space design and rituals can be used to preserve culture at work.
The Role of Space Design in Shaping Culture
Kerr's journey into workplace strategy started when he worked in operations at BlackRock, but found he was more interested in the strategic side of things. He later worked at WeWork, where he helped clients design and build their office spaces, and realized the power of space design in shaping culture.
"I think space is a really powerful tool for driving culture," Kerr said. "It can be a way to reinforce your values, to create a sense of community, and to make people feel like they're part of something bigger than themselves."
Creating Spaces for Hyper-Mobile Workforces
The workforce is becoming increasingly mobile, with employees working from home, traveling, and visiting different offices. This presents a challenge for businesses that need to create spaces that are both comfortable and productive for all types of workers that supports them wherever they may find themselves working.
Kerr suggests focusing on flexibility, which means having a variety of workspaces to choose from, such as private offices, open areas, and collaboration spaces. It also means providing employees with the tools and technology they need to work from anywhere. Being able to bring the needed tools into any space, and setting that space up with intentionality, is key.
Another important factor is creating a sense of community. This can be done by providing opportunities for employees to connect with each other, such as through social events, team-building activities, and shared spaces. By making these spaces comfortable, he has found that the environment encourages better work to surface.
Preserving Culture in a Remote Work Environment
Eric acknowledges that it can be difficult to build and maintain culture when people are working from home, but it's not impossible. He suggests the following strategies:
Regularly scheduled check-ins: Whether it's a daily standup meeting or a weekly team huddle, it's important to have regular opportunities for people to connect and collaborate.
Celebrate successes: No matter how small, it's important to take the time to celebrate successes. This helps to build morale and create a sense of shared accomplishment.
Create opportunities for learning and development: Investing in employee development is a great way to show that you value your team and that you're committed to their growth.
Encourage social interaction: Encourage employees to connect with each other outside of work. This could be anything from setting up a Slack channel for water cooler talk to organizing virtual happy hours.
In addition, Kerr advises leaders to be intentional about culture, communicate frequently, be flexible, and celebrate wins.
Creating a Positive and Productive Work Culture in the Hybrid Office
As more companies return to the office, many are facing the challenge of creating a positive and productive work culture in the hybrid office. Kerr suggests being explicit about expectations, providing employees with the right tools, and creating opportunities for connection and collaboration.
Overall, DoorDash's approach to preserving culture through space design and rituals serves as a great example for other companies looking to create a positive and productive work environment.
Here are some insights from Kerr that organizations can start employing now.
Focus on flexibility: Provide a variety of workspaces for employees to choose from, such as private offices, open areas, and collaboration spaces, and provide them with the tools and technology they need to work from anywhere.
Create a sense of community: Encourage opportunities for employees to connect with each other, such as through social events, team-building activities, and shared spaces.
Be intentional about culture: Leaders should be intentional about culture, communicate frequently, be flexible, and celebrate wins.
Provide comfortable workspaces: Use natural light and comfortable furnishings to create a relaxing environment.
Be explicit about expectations: Clearly communicate expectations for employees in the hybrid office and provide them with the right tools to meet those expectations.
By implementing these strategies, organizations can create a positive and productive work environment and preserve company culture, even in a remote or hybrid work environment.
Listen to the full episode and other True Understanding episodes here: