Creators – just like athletes – need an environment that motivates, inspires and empowers them to perform at their best. A workplace that is built upon the company’s culture and enables creativity to thrive.
At adidas we’ve been developing our work environment for over 70 years – moving from a family business to a local enterprise and growing into a multinational company with over 57,000 people. This journey taught us what does and doesn’t work for our creators.
Now it’s time to share our performance blueprint with you to help make your workplace better, more fun and inspiring. It teaches you how to be a creator of change in your own work and gives you a fresh perspective on what you need to perform at your best.
The importance of culture
Culture is the DNA of any company. It’s what gives a company its personality. It defines who you are and what you value. Culture is the unwritten, unspoken social norms and rules; as well as the behaviors and mindsets that you accept, reject, incentivize or celebrate.
In times where it’s easy to copy your business products and strategy, your workplace culture will be the differentiator for success. How your people behave and their dedication to perform directly influences your business performance.
The power of purpose
While viewpoints, skills, and experiences are unique to each employee, what unites people is a shared purpose and a workplace which brings that to life.
When John F. Kennedy asked a janitor who worked at NASA what his job was, he replied: “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” It’s not about what you do, it’s why you do it.
Your ‘why’ provides your team with vision and gives everyone a chance to create real impact. It’s what gets them to work every day. It’s what they stand for. It is different for everyone. For us at adidas, it’s our understanding that through sport, we have the power to change lives.
Where culture meets the workplace
The workplace for an employee is what the arena is to an athlete. It creates the perfect conditions for them to perform at their best.
If companies are to attract and develop top performers, they need to give their employees the kind of environment that will help to amplify their talents. This investment is entirely scalable, whether you’re a start-up of ten people or a multi-national corporation with tens of thousands.
Now it’s time to look into our performance blueprint to upgrade your culture and environment with the right workplace tools, strategies, and habits.
For a workplace to enable people to deliver to the max, it has to adapt to a changing world. Here are three areas you should pay close attention to when adapting your workplace to support and emphasize your culture.
A workplace extends far beyond simply providing a physical space, it’s everything you fill it with. When you bring different people from diverse backgrounds together, you gather richer perspectives.
Mobility allows employees to modify their environment according to their needs, supported by the seamless transition between both physical and digital workplaces. It’s an enabler for work-life integration helping employees to make a life, not only a living.
The future workplace is shaped by the people who use it and their experiences will continuously influence the crafting of more creative spaces. Employee experience is the measurement of a workplace in the same way customer experience is for business performance.
One size fits no one
Everyone works differently and therefore a variety of different environments are required to allow you to perform at your best.
What activates your own creative genius might be a quiet space, a lively coffee shop or simply sitting outside in nature; however, what works for you might not work for others. It’s all about providing choice.
The value of listening
Understand the environments that help your employees perform at their best.
Jens May, VP Global Workplaces at adidas explains “our global workplace concept – MyArena – actually started with our employees telling us what they were missing. At work, they were vocal about what they needed to unlock their performance, to work better together, to become more creative, to foster collaboration.”
Employee experience shapes the future workplace. Your workplace needs to continuously evolve, it will never be finished.
Workplace trends to consider:
- Human-centric design values people’s feelings, passion, and purpose over forced efficiency
- Workplaces turn into experience centers, blending home and workspaces, in which people can feel comfortable
- Open-source working and co-creation encourages collaboration between external and internal talent to cultivate more creative ideas
- Horizontal structures where departments cross over help teams to learn and strengthen from each other’s experience
At adidas, our culture is rooted in sport and it empowers creativity, collaboration, and confidence. Here’s how we built this into our workplace and how you can, too.
What unites your workforce is what drives your workplace. Seeing our core belief ‘through sport, we have the power to change lives’ lived in our workplace is essential. It’s who we are and it’s what we do.
Sport and our company’s rich heritage is reflected across all adidas’ campuses: Our HQ continues to be based on the edge of the small town of Herzogenaurach in Germany. It was here where Adi Dassler created his first pair of shoes to enable athletes to perform at their best.
It’s not only the products, it’s the athlete’s lifestyle and mindset that informs our daily work. We offer an ever-evolving range of company sports and nutrition programs, with easy access to everything from football, basketball and tennis to climbing, skating and yoga. There’s even a running track through the grounds beneath ‘Arena’, the latest building to be added to the campus.
All this alongside the hundreds of fitness courses and external programs we have at our offices around the world.
It empowers a healthy and productive lifestyle. Rather than work-life balance, it enables work-life integration.
Creative spaces are unique to everyone. What matters most in idea creation is providing choice, through diverse and collaborative environments. So, how can you build a workplace to spark creative thinking?
Here are some things we’ve successfully applied at adidas:
- Choice is the biggest element of creativity. Flexible working hours, off-site working and activity-based working provides us with the freedom to work in a different space depending on our individual needs.
- MakerLabs allow us to interact with different materials, build things with our hands and develop prototypes.
- When we have ideas, we want to write them down. Create walls with writable surfaces or provide whiteboards for people to gather their thoughts on the spot.
- Creativity comes with motion. Spaces that are easily adjustable, with tools that can be modified to current demands (teamwork, brainstorm, prototyping, etc.) are essential.
- Interaction with others stimulates creativity. Spaces that bring people together naturally can be just as valuable as traditional meeting rooms.
Productive collaboration doesn’t come from closed meeting areas, but through visible open interaction. At adidas, we’ve adopted the mindset that playing together as a team will help us win.
If you want to empower collaboration in the workplace, check out these approaches that have worked for us:
- Build spaces where people can bump into each other. Visibility brings openness. It allows natural encounters and serendipitous meetups.
- Go for staircases over awkward elevator rides. You’re much more likely to see and talk to a colleague on the stairs.
- Build kitchen hubs into the centers of each floor. They help people who work in separate areas to meet up during the course of the day.
- Create transparency. Open offices which give access to colleagues from other departments and approachable leaders who encourage flat hierarchies boost ad hoc collaboration.
The only way to grow is to push boundaries. Having the confidence to drive change in the workplace is represented at adidas in three ways:
- Workplace Design
- Workplace Concept
- Workplace Leadership
The design of your workplace reflects your brand, what you stand for and what you are willing to invest into your workforce. Whether that is transparency, moonshots, elegance or practicality, it can all be reflected in your workplace. This is part of the reason why we are still in the town in which everything started 70 years ago. It reminds us where our core belief was born and gives us the freedom to create unique spaces that fit our business athletes.
MyArena was born just a few years ago, giving employees the opportunity to choose the working environment that suits them best.
It’s based upon an activity-based working model for all employees with a focus on sharing, trust and openness, mobility and flexibility and respect. It works through a mix of 12 separate modules. These include kitchen hubs that bring people together into one space for casual collaboration and spontaneous celebrations, chat booths for phone calls, lounge areas, desk spaces, focus boxes, outside areas and coffee shops, as well as more traditional meetings rooms.
It also brings entire teams into one space, thus breaking down hierarchical barriers, so management can be part of the conversation on the floor, rather than sitting in their ivory towers.
We want to facilitate unprepared meetups and quick chats and spaces where people can collaborate easily or close themselves off, depending on their needs.
Catering for a diverse workforce involves challenging fears, objections and prejudices. Each and every employee must be curious and open-minded enough to bring the concept to life.
Leadership determines whether your workplace design and structure will actually flourish. As our leadership is rooted in creativity, collaboration and confidence, our environments have to reflect those values.
You might embrace using kitchen areas for quick meetups or find your focus in a local coffee shop, but if your manager doesn’t support your approach, your new workplace concept is void.
Trust in your employees is vital, so they can openly choose which environments fits them best to work in. Whether that’s under a cherry tree, in a coffee shop or at the desk in front of you shouldn’t matter.
The times when organizations drove employee productivity through command and control are way over. Trust and empower your people, and you’ll see they’ll pay you back in spades.
Trust must be mutual. In the same way a company trusts its people to find the ideal environment to perform, the people must trust the company to take bold steps that push them out of their comfort zone into their growth zone. Be confident to try new things and don’t be afraid of failure.
Most importantly when adapting your workplace to your culture, listen to your workforce and stay true to your values. Nothing is stronger than a lived purpose which enables your people to perform at their very best.
We all experience our workplaces differently. Check out how we’re using our MyArena concept. It might inspire you if you’re thinking about a workplace blueprint that will work for you.