Career Advice

How to Scope Out an Office That Fits Your Values

Partners meeting in busy trendy office with business people

Compartmentalizing is so 2000. A slight blurring of the lines between work and home is actually the norm now, and office designs need to reflect that. Working in an office that reflects your own values is not only a possibility today, but it’s also an element you should seek out on the job hunt.

Etsy wanted the design of its new offices, for example, to reflect its customers’ and employees’ attention to economic, social and environmental concerns. The beautiful new space, furnished with pieces made by Etsy sellers and local artists, meets sustainability standards and encourages creative collaboration. People who share those values would not only find a comfortable home in such a space, but would also instinctively embrace these values in their interactions with customers.

When job hunting, consider these aspects to find an office space that reflects your values. Browse photos inside of your ideal companies on Glassdoor. Employer profiles feature snapshots and videos that can help you make the best decision for your next big job.

1. Location, location, location

Companies that take your needs into account know location is key. Our offices are five blocks from the beach in a neighborhood rich with great food, happy hours and a bustling social scene. This fun atmosphere gets our team stoked not only about working at Hawke, but also about working together.

When they’ve been slamming their heads against the wall for hours on end, our teammates can say, “F*ck it. Let’s go for sushi and a beer.” They can cut out for a bit, fuel up and then come back to make up the few hours they spent at the bar, making it easy to be social and get real with each other.

In this virtuous cycle, your co-worker becomes a human, not just the guy who pulls Google Analytics data.

2. A space to call your own

Offices that feel like busy coffee shops get old fast. Open, 100 percent flexible workspaces are all the rage, but believe me — working in your own space is so much better. You want a desk, at least, where you can set a picture, stash a few snacks and have a sense of ownership.

Studies show that workers in open spaces tend to be more distracted, less collaborative and even less friendly. Bottom line: Your own space is better for you and for the company.

3. Expressive aesthetics

Are the walls, tables and common spaces fun? Do you have cool art or pictures of the team — something to instill pride when they look around?

Your new company’s office should feel like a cool hotel or a buddy’s bitchin’ penthouse, not a cubicle farm. Signs of individuality mean you’ll likely be able to express your personality at work, too.

While some employers might worry that such an environment would be distracting, research shows that people who can add personal touches to the office actually work 15 percent faster and experience fewer health issues than those in minimalist spaces.

4. Proximity to leadership

Leadership shouldn’t be cut off from the team. In our office, each team’s director sits with his or her squad, making open communication, problem-solving and course corrections easier and less stressful.

It’s a two-way street — if I’m sitting within speaking distance of my direct reports, they’re always ready to help me prepare for a meeting or write an email, and vice versa.

What’s more, a study found that 10 percent of performance is driven by that of a worker’s office neighbors. If you see team leads or managers and employees working in one space together, rest assured that your productivity and growth won’t be hindered by miscommunication or slacking co-workers.

5. The most essential essentials

Ping-Pong tables and amazing cafeterias are nice, but the truth is you’ll spend most of your day at your desk, not playing video games and snacking.

Some people assume the best younger employees will demand “fun” workspaces. In reality, fun and creativity are more important to professionals of yesteryear.

If the workplace is too much fun, you’ll never want to leave — and that’s no accident. Such a space might be designed to encourage people to put in long hours and late nights. (If you see bunk beds, run.)

At our company, we try to kick people out after a certain point every night to ensure they maintain a balanced personal work-life integration. We want to keep them happy and productive, after all, and working them 24/7 won’t do the trick.

In the end, how a company designs its office space reflects its values and shows how closely they mirror your own. Finding one whose values match yours — and that attends to the needs of its employees — will go a long way toward ensuring that you’re happy not only when you go home at night, but also while you give it your all — all day long.


Tony Delmercado is the COO at Hawke Media, a passionately curious entrepreneur, and an all-around solid dude. He enjoys building businesses, playing golf, improving his Krav Maga and jiujitsu game, writing, studying business tax loopholes, and eating Mexican food. He spends his weekends at the T&A Bungalow in Chesterfield Square hanging with his wife, Anthea; his son, Onyx; and his dog, Naz.

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