How technology is changing office culture

table and chairs birdseye

A friend once told me ‘pretty offices don't make money, stop spending money’.

Although his argument had solid grounds it is undeniable that the workplace is changing, and recent industry figures tell a of a new story unfolding, the way in which technology continues to evolve the way we use our offices.

To better understand how the office environment has changed over the past thirty years you need to take a look back and understand where we have come from, and where the road we are travelling leads too….

Since the 1980’s technology has played a key role in the cultural shift and how we use of our offices. In the early years of technology companies, uniformity was valued. Companies like IBM had an identical workstation for every worker. This was great from an facilities point of view, but it made employees feel ‘like a number’. Although in recent years the support for uniformity within the office has wavered, technology continues to lead the way we design and use our offices.

The rapid growth of technology has enabled freedom of the workforce. Gone are rows upon rows of uninspiring cubicles, and fluorescent lighting. The trend is now set on creating a higher valued workspace for employees to collaborate and share ideas. Instead work is carried out on mobile devices on the train or in a coffee shops. With 14% of the current working population work from home, instead the focus now shifts to ‘why do you want to get people into the office at all? One answer is using working culture to increase revenue.

Company culture is difficult to measure as it’s intangible. However, it’s easy to get a sense of if a workplace has it or not when you walk into an office. Studies have shown over an eleven year period that companies that actively developed their culture have increased their revenue stream by up to 516%.

Henry Stewart, client of Woodhouse and author of “The Happy Manifesto” writes that happy employees lead to “better customer satisfaction, lower staff turnover, fewer sick days and easier recruitment, which all lead to greater growth and profitability”. In short improving company culture lies with making employees happy.

Let Company Culture Design Your Office

A recent survey conducted by JLL, states that during a working day the average white collared employee spend most of their time on e-mails, phone calls and meetings. All of these tasks can be associated with the office of the past or without an office entirely. Employees are no longer tied to their desks, instead many are able to work from home, meaning less office space is allocated to desks or meeting rooms which in turn saves the company both space and money.

Whilst open planned offices encourage collaboration, they are known to create unwelcome distractions from overly-sociable employees, negatively impacting on others who need privacy or a quiet space to carry out their work. Employees are social characters who don’t do too well being stuck or isolated 24/7 in one place – hence the term ‘cabin fever’.

Employees crave social interaction, and there’s no better way to understand this than looking at how employees interact outside work. Look closer, and you will find a sub-culture where like-minded people gathering in similar environments; friend & family gatherings, restaurants, bars, festivals even supermarkets!

Today, we need workplaces that allow for a range of different activities, from one-man phone booths, perfect for confidential calls, through to larger rooms that accommodate for staff training or collaborative work. This not only creates an environment where people want to meet and collaborate well together, but one that is fit for purpose.

Change is happening in all sectors and there’s no one design answer which fits all. Remember changing the office environment and incorporating the latest technology is relatively easy, however it should always start with ‘How is this going to profit me?’


1. Kotter, J. P. (2008). Corporate culture and performance. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. 2.Stewart, H. (2013). The happy manifesto: Make your organization a great workplace. London; Philadelphia: Kogan Page.