Why Workplace Culture Matters

Culture is as important as business strategy. It either strengthens or undermines your organization’s goals. Fostering a culture unique to your organization nurtures engagement and fuels innovation. And one of the most valuable tools to reinforce culture and drive business strategy is workplace design.

How do you create a work environment, an Organic Workspace, that serves as the physical expression of your company’s culture, brand, and business strategy—a place where employees work effectively, happily, and develop new ideas that grow revenue?

Start by understanding culture.

What is Culture?

Culture is the personality of an organization and includes three basic components:

  • Values—An organization’s mission and how it represents itself
  • Assumptions—The attitudes formed through company processes and actions that inform what employees think
  • Artifacts—What a company represents in the form of products, services, processes, publications, dress code, location, and their work environment

Discover Your Culture

To create a culture profile, it’s useful to lay the values, assumptions, and artifacts of a company into a framework that reveals its basic tenets. The Competing Values Framework™ provides this structure, and emerged from research demonstrating a link between culture type and organizational effectiveness. We’ve partnered with Innovatrium, a global leader in innovation, to leverage this framework as a key element in creating high-performing work environments. The Competing Values Framework creates a foundation for purposeful workplace design, resulting in a mix of spaces that help your people do their best work.

Align Culture with Workplace Design

Organizations have a primary culture and—oftentimes—numerous subcultures. It’s important to recognize the predominant culture profile as well as the subcultures to provide workspaces that harness the ways in which teams work.

Let’s explore how each of the culture types is illustrated in workplace design:

Collaborate – do things that last

Teams that are committed to their community and work to nurture a group of empowered individuals. Collaborate groups are highly flexible and internally-focused. Their space provides a multitude of spaces that enable group work—for both scheduled and impromptu connections.

Create – do new things

People who pursue radical breaks from the past and breakthrough ideas. Create culture types are visionary teams who value experimentation and speculation. Taken to the extreme, Create workspaces can be chaotic. They’re highly flexible, adapting well for continuous learning and informal group work.

Control – do things right

Thriving on internal processes, seeking stability and mastery in their work. For Control culture types, workspaces provide a much higher-level of focus work and support the desire for planned collaboration.

Compete – do things now

Teams appreciate the intensity of competition and are motivated towards speedy, profitable outcomes. Compete teams embrace the discipline necessary to accelerate results. Their workspaces are action-oriented and afford occupants a combination of group work and individual work options.

"It is important to understand how an organization works, its culture and competencies, before you can effectively design a workspace where innovation happens."

Dr. Jeff DeGraff, PhD, Professor and Author

MEC - Mountain Equipment Co-op

MEC works to be the most viable, vibrant outdoor retail business in Canada. The people at MEC live life with a spirit of adventure, have a keen desire to learn, and crave a challenge. See how we joined forces with MEC and the entire project team to deliver a work environment that fosters MEC culture.


Explore the four guiding principles of innovation theory from the leading team at Innovatrium.


Learn from Jeff DeGraff, advisor to Fortune 500 companies, professor at the University of Michigan, and founder of Innovatrium in our Spark article: 3 Things Leaders Should Know About Culture.


Read more about how to use the Competing Values Framework to build a successful culture at your organization.

Contact us to explore how we can align your culture to your workspace.