As a global brand, it’s key that your workplace design is consistent and somewhat similar, regardless of where in the world your offices are. However, it’s also important that each individual space is influenced by its location. It can create a local sense of culture and identity which means that while part of a global brand, the space itself can have a special, one-of-a-kind feeling, giving people a sense of place. So, how can you localise each of your offices?
“In a large, international company, it’s important to foster a sense of belonging, so infusing local elements based on the surrounding area, culture and traditions is a great way of doing this,” says Emma Luyt, Joint CEO, JLL Sub-Saharan Africa and Managing Director, Tétris South Africa. “You should embrace where you are and the country you’re in with your office design.”
Irrespective of where you are, adding local touches can give people a sense of belonging and safety. “All of your offices should look similar, but there should be a local thread weaved into each individual design.”
Simply put, design should work for the people who work in the office, reflecting their working culture and practices. Design can also lead the culture. If your office is designed in a more informal way, then you’ll create a more relaxed working culture.
“For example, in the Spanish office, we named the rooms after different tapas that the country is known for, such as ‘tortilla’ and ‘Jamón ibérico’. Us Spaniards are very proud of our gastronomy, so having a culinary client was great as we knew we could play on this tradition!” says Julio Oloriz, Head of Design at Tétris Spain.
“The Italian office is in Milan, so we took inspiration from the way the streets and plazas are designed.” This includes corridors designed to look like Milanese streets, green patios, and a reception that could be mistaken for an urban plaza. As with the Spanish office, we made sure we had striking visuals of Italian dishes and chefs to reiterate Italy’s rich food and drink heritage.
Keep it local and upcycle
Another benefit of taking inspiration from the local area is that you can source whatever you need from local suppliers and the community. “Not only does this add an authentic feel, but it does a world of good for people who live just a stone’s throw away and it reduces your carbon footprint,” Luyt says.
In addition, you could also reuse or upcycle existing furniture and pieces to increase sustainability and reduce waste. This was the case when we designed and fitted out Mindspace’s office in Warsaw, where we refreshed previously used furniture. But our upcycling project didn’t stop there – we also created lamps out of recycled parts of washing machines, tables made from wood that was set to be scrapped, shelves made of used tyres, and even seats made from pallets.
Supporting the local community and artists
Supporting local artists means being able to tap into talent that often goes unnoticed and elevate it to another platform. When we designed PepsiCo’s office in Johannesburg, South Africa, a large part of our focus was on recycling and getting local artists on board. The office is now full of locally sourced and produced art. There’s even an installation which is made from litter and other materials and now takes pride of place in the office, showing how creative local talent can be while ensuring a reduction in the amount of waste that goes to landfill.
Sourcing locally also helps keep local industries and traditions alive. In some countries, there are certain crafts that are only made by a select few people who sometimes struggle as automation takes over. “While we’re a global company, we have local experts in every country we operate in, so they know where to go to get authentic, handmade items,” Luyt continues. “By buying locally, we’re bringing local craftsmanship into offices and helping people get in touch with the essence of their location.”
When it comes to finding inspiration for your design and build projects, it’s everywhere. Inspiration can be found on your doorstep! By adding local elements to your office, you can create a familiar environment where people feel welcome and be productive.