Bringing different businesses together under one roof is not without its challenges – not least when it comes to creating one unified team with a shared sense of purpose following a merger or acquisition.
Change of this ilk is complex; it requires people to understand what’s expected of them in the new world order. More often, employees will focus on what this means to when, where and how they’ll work. Without a commitment to change management and the provision of clarity, employees can feel displaced, unvalued, demotivated and unhappy – particularly if they’re suddenly working with new colleagues in ill-equipped, cramped or inappropriate spaces. Avoiding this is a business imperative.
As a nationwide office interior design and fit-out business, we’re often called in to help companies unlock the true value of their workplaces and make them support business excellence following a period of organisational change. This process, just as for any new interior design or refurbishment project, starts with the same few steps; understanding the very sense of how work is done and what employees want and need from a space. For businesses going through mergers or acquisitions (M&A) this is particularly important and can pave the wave for aligning culture and creating a cohesive, resilient and focused workforce.
Here are five important ways to create unity through space:
- Enable activity based working – Reduce the reliance on fixed desk working in favour of providing variety and encouraging movement around the office. Introducing activity-based working will help employees to get to know each other, as well as give them all important empowerment and choice over how they work. Dedicated spaces for lone working, quiet reflection, team working and creativity amongst other things, as well as the mobile technologies to make this possible, will make your team better equipped and more able to integrate.
- Create social hubs and experiences – Employees with friends at work are typically more loyal, productive and hard-working. By including dedicated social spaces into the workplace with soft seating, zones for wellbeing, gaming-pods and onsite cafés, and making a special effort to host social events and gatherings, it is possible to nurture a new, combined workplace culture that is built on social connection.
- Bring brand goals and objectives to life – Lack of trust is one of the most common employee gripes following a merger or acquisition. As such creating a shared sense of purpose and showing an organisation to be honest, communicative and transparent is very important, as soon as possible. Use the workplace design and layout to live and breathe your brand and its goals. Reflect them in artwork, colours, how departments are co-located and how facilities are named. Make your company intentions clear with flexible spaces suited to regular staff updates and gatherings.
- Put the focus on wellbeing – Show that employees matter and that you’re an organisation concerned about their welfare by actively building wellbeing into your workplace design. This can be achieved with ample access to natural light, fresh air and planting, a plethora of choice-led workspaces and facilities, quiet and mobile free areas, easy access to counselling, healthcare and other welfare support services and the use of ergonomic furniture.
- Onboard employees – Make sure that all employees know what’s expected of them and how to derive full value from the new work environment by providing a helpful guide and induction. This will ensure a mutually respectful environment, an empowered workforce and a shared sense of belonging. This is particularly important if one business is moving into the environment of another.
Mergers and acquisitions can help organisations to become more efficient, profitable and powerful – but not if the human component of change is not given the appropriate focus, care or investment. The workplace plays a vital role in supporting organisational change such as this and it should not be underestimated. For firms considering a merger or acquisition, this is particularly sage advice.
All workplaces should support how work is done and facilitate a positive, inspiring and productive culture. If they’re not, they could be undermining your efforts.