Sunday, May 27, 2012

Where should we put the desks?

If people consider the topic of culture’s influence business they often focus on the challenges of negotiations and contracts.  They don’t often discuss how culture can shape the layout of an office. 

Steelcase (  the global office design and furniture manufacturer is working to change that.  They conduced a three year study of the relationship between national culture and office space.  The results are presented in a book titled OFFICE CODE – Building connections between cultures and workplace design.  (

This book looked at six European countries – the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Future books will focus on Asia and North America.  It takes what Steelcase’s WorkSpace Futures know about office design and combines it with the cultural framework developed by Dutch social scientist Geert Hofstede. 

The results are presented in text, graphs and drawings that illustrate the lives of people in these countries. They explain the culture and lifestyle in each place.  Read It’s fascinating and easy to understand. 

Discover that countries like France with strong hierarchical orientation are likely to have more private offices than one that is more consultative such as the UK.  Note that for people in all six countries spending time at the end of the day with their families is important and that commuting to work is challenging everywhere.

OFFICE CODE helps us look at our workplace in another way and may add another dimension to office design around the world.

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