We're all influenced by our surroundings and environment, so it's fair to surmise that the state of your working environment is going to affect the work which takes place. A tidy desk might promote a tidy mind or, equally, an untidy shop floor in the foundry might lead to sloppy workmanship or (even worse) unsafe working. Visual cues in the workplace impact company culture in various ways and from safety messages to uniforms, here's 6 to think about.
What Are Visual Cues In The Workplace?
When we talk about visual cues in the workplace, we are referring to nonverbal decorational items, purposely designed layouts and any other visual aspect of the working environment which has been purposely chosen to transmit a message.
This could be in terms of branding being used to transmit an outward representation of what type of place the business is - for example, think of how an EasyCoffee coffee shop (quick, cheap, time saving on the way to work) is fitted out compared to somewhere like Starbucks (luxury, slower paced, a place to relax).
But it could also be visual cues aimed to foster a particular working attitude amongst the workforce themselves - for example, a creative industry start-up's office (with bean bags, table football and even a beer fridge) will be massively different when compared to a respected firm of solicitors' office (with certificates and case law folders adorning the walls), but both producing an equally productive and successful working environment.
And then there are other kinds of visual clues you can use to impact company culture.
Examples Of Visual Cues And Their Impact On Company Culture
If you work in an industry such as construction or manufacturing, then safety is going to be of main concern. There has been great work over the past couple of decades to improve the safety record of construction, manufacturing and other similar industries.
One of the biggest visual cues to impact the health and safety culture of your business is to showcase, loud and clear, the number of safe hours that have been worked since your last incident. This becomes something to be proud of for all staff who see it. But, more importantly, it works to tacitly remind them of the time an incident happened and that, next time, if they don't continue to be careful, it could be they who are involved in an incident.
There's also the option of placing reminders and signage around the workplace which transmit the important message of working safely. These act as a reminder to all who see them and the best kind of signs provoke thought and consideration. The more striking and powerful the signs are, the more effective they will be.
For example, the road safety campaign signs you may have seen on motorway maintenance sites (pictured below) are infinitely more effective than a simple "Slow Down - Work In Progress" sign. This is designed to influence external users (drivers) but the same technique can be applied effectively within your own workplace.
"Our Dad works here" campaign on the M60.
Ethos And Attitude Builders Or Reminders
The campaign pictured above works by reminding drivers that the people they see working on the roadside have lives and families. Although they disappear from the rear view mirror in a matter of seconds, it's about changing the attitude of drivers to respect the road workers as people with their own lives and interests. Promoting an improved attitude.
This can be done internally at your own workplace and impact company culture positively.
Talking about what "we" do, how "we treat our customers" and providing visually stimulating messages can drip-feed positive attitudes into your colleagues and employees. Placing messages and expectations in key areas of the workplace can help build a more positive culture in the company.
Digital message screens at WeWork office entrance. Image credit.
Working Layouts - Open Plan And Isolated Working
Whilst adding additional posters or digital signage to the workplace will help, it might be worth thinking about the design and layout of your workspace as a whole. This could underpin all other visual cues you try to put in place to shape the culture of the company.
Think long and hard about the way different teams and levels of seniority have their workspace set out. Open plan work spaces are great for communication and openness, but does it transmit the message that staff cannot be trusted to work in private? Sometimes, private working space is a necessity, but if this luxury is only offered to senior staff members, what message does this transmit to the rest of the workforce?
Storytelling To Build A Brand
On a different train of thought, you can use visual cues to tell the story of your brand and business. Showcasing pictures, logos and facts about the company since its formation are a great way of building the history of the company and offering something tangible for staff and visitors to be a part of. It suggests something bigger than the here and now, and builds a heritage.
If the company doesn't have a long and impressive history, yet, then you can always incorporate visual representations of where the business is now and where it is heading: the story of your first client and first piece of work - juxtaposed with what plans are for the next five years. This suggests growth is imminent and will encourage people to be a part of it.
Showcase Success To Build Pride
And your staff will be the ones helping to drive that growth and progress. So show off their success. It's no wonder that businesses the world over showcase an Employee Of The Month award. But you don't have to stop there.
As well as highlighting individual performances, you can promote how well the entire workforce is performing together and what roles specific teams and departments have played in growing the company recently.
This can take the form of handing out awards, putting up photographs of the award ceremony, producing videos for the website and sharing them to all employees via email and can even be as simple as putting up a Wall Of Success in reception or at the entrance where key statistics and developments can be showcased for all to see.
This builds a culture of being proud of your achievements and inspire productive competitiveness between colleagues to keep driving the company forward as a team.
A Uniform Look Shows A United Workforce
And another way of building team spirit is to provide company clothing. From branded PPE to compulsory uniforms, and everything in-between for those based in head office; there are a whole host of benefits to providing staff with company branded clothing.
It shows clear intent that the business believes in its staff and their future, so it is prepared to invest. It presents a united front, whilst also reminding everybody that they are working towards the same goal. It can resolve any hierarchy issues and encourage everybody to realise that they all have a part to play in the company's success.