Human-to-Human (H2H) marketing is quickly transforming the economy, pushing companies to heighten their customer awareness, boost creativity and seek out collaborations, within both the office and the wider industry.
Office spaces should reflect and nurture the values and visions of your company. The rising popularity of the H2H business mindset may spark new trends in corporate interior design.
Research carried out by Haworth looked into the relationship between workspaces and office culture, suggesting that culture is heavily dependent on successful spacial design. They also found that it is the most important element of any company – more so than even the product or service they market.
In order to instill a H2H mentality, there are several fundamental values which should be physically introduced into your office setup.
Social Areas Promote Human Interaction
It would be hypocritical at best to encourage your employees to adhere to the people-centric values of H2H without first encouraging them to engage with each other on this level. Conversing and sharing experiences with each other is hugely beneficial to creating trust and empathy – both qualities you want consumers to see reflected in your company image.
Prompting these office interactions to happen randomly and in a relaxed atmosphere, not just through scheduled meetings, provides scope for meaningful, personal conversation. These moments enable us to better understand and create high quality human relationships.
With positive interactions at the heart of your office culture, consciously or subconsciously, this will quickly impact how your business tailors its image and service to match the needs of the customer.
Perhaps the most famous champions of this social work model are Google. The search engine is more concerned about human or ‘user’ experience than anything else and this is reflected in their office design. To get their staff networking and talking to each other, the company has added features to their offices with the intention of causing ‘casual collisions’.
Their moral boosting techniques vary from the innovative, such as queuing for slides instead of taking the lift, to a more traditional favorite food.
No part of Google’s New York campus is more than 150 meters away from a cafe, kitchen or snack bar, so their employees are more likely to cross paths on their way to collect coffee or a bite to eat.
Many employers are now aware of the value of having staff kitchens, fruit bowls and coffee stations in accessible locations. More needs to be done to discourage workers from eating lunch at their desks and use communal dining areas.
Even when your employees work together outside of the office for a prolonged period of time, during conferences and training days, the environment of the venue should match your values. Conference venues which place emphasis on quality food and an attractive social environment are an opportunity to reinforce H2H values.
Create and Reflect Joy
The idea that a happy worker is a productive worker is well established, but sadly under practiced. For a lot of companies, bringing in extra office features to boost moral is seen as an additional cost, rather than an investment in the productivity and success of their workers.
Serviced office providers Dephna recognize that it’s ‘important to strike a balance between your budget and the business image you want to project’ when considering what facilities your office needs. But in order to find success in the H2H economy, office happiness and mental well being is worth the initial cost.
Workers who feel provided for by their employer are going to take on board that this is a key part of their company’s identity. This will then be reflected in the way their customer awareness and interaction.
Solutions don’t have to be expensive. Simply assigning a space for staff to go and relax away from their desks can go a long way towards restoring moral and productivity. Easy Offices rent office space across the UK and they stress the importance of “break out areas” for creating positive work environments. These are features of many of their offices, particularly in regions with a high concentration of creative industries, such as Shoreditch and parts of Bristol.
‘Break out’ or relaxed zones contribute towards the aforementioned casual collisions and increased social activity. For businesses with larger budgets, game rooms encourage prolonged periods of interaction, offering opportunities for ideas to be bounced around while bonds between employees are established and strengthened.
As companies realize the benefits of creating a friendly, entertaining office environment, more innovative ideas are being implemented. Some popular examples which have raised the bar in terms of creativity include building swing seats and even bowling alleys.
Collaboration Over Competition
Rather than competing to single-handedly provide customers with the best experience, H2H embraces the idea that collaboration yields better results.
This mentality is encouraged in all workers, emphasizing team cohesion over individual achievement. If different sectors of the company work in close proximity to each other, then they might glean a better understanding of the company as a whole. They are then able to make contributions outside their usual fields and work effectively together towards their end goal – in this case the human experience and impression of your brand.
Steve Jobs realized how effective design could be in encouraging collaboration. Pixar's office was set up in a huge open space to enable different teams to get involved with work in other areas, providing fresh ideas and inspiration.
This has inspired a new setup which takes workers away from using individual desks and instead sees everyone working in office ‘neighborhoods’. Each neighborhood is an area of the office with a small team working together on a given assignment. The arrangement is designed to encourage more spontaneous brainstorming sessions and improves communication within that neighborhood team.
In this way, employees are encouraged never to think alone. Working in full view of the rest of the office invites contributions from colleagues you may not usually collaborate with. Fitting offices with white boards and paper charts to work on will extend this invitation across more people and for a longer window of time.