Workspace Design Show Amsterdam

Incorporating Cultural Sensitivity into Design Projects: A ServiceNow Approach

Lewis Barker, Director of Real Estate & Workplace Services EMEA

In today’s globalised world, cultural sensitivity is paramount, especially when designing workspaces for a diverse workforce. At ServiceNow, we believe that our offices should not just be places where work happens; they should be environments where our employees feel at home, comfortable, and connected to their local culture. This philosophy drives us to engage deeply with our employees to understand their unique cultural contexts and preferences, ensuring that each office reflects the local identity, whether it’s ServiceNow Israel, ServiceNow Munich, or any other location.

Understanding Local Cultures

The first step in incorporating cultural sensitivity into our design projects is understanding the cultural nuances of each location. This involves engaging with our employees through surveys, focus groups, and interviews to gather insights into their cultural practices, preferences, and needs. For instance, in Israel, we might find that communal dining areas are important due to the cultural emphasis on shared meals. In contrast, in Munich, traditional Bavarian elements might be integrated to reflect local heritage and pride.

ServiceNow places a strong emphasis on this engagement because it allows us to translate these insights into tangible design elements. We don’t just create a generic office space; we create spaces that resonate with the local workforce. This process is integral in making our employees feel seen and valued, fostering a sense of belonging. All our locations have event spaces, and our workplace teams really promote these spaces to host local cultural events. Creating events is part of our engagement strategy to engage people physically in our workplaces and I think this has been a large part of maintaining our culture for so long.

Designing for Local Identity

Once we have a thorough understanding of the local culture, the next step is to translate this knowledge into our office design. Our goal is to ensure that each office embodies the essence of its location. This means incorporating local artists’ work into the space, traditional design elements, and culturally significant motifs. For example, for ServiceNow Israel we used local carpenters and materials to build our canteen pods and had local artists create the artwork across the many walls in the office which forms our part of our wayfinding approach. We have spaces where employees can personalise space themselves, this may be photos, ornaments or flags.

The Impact on Employee Well-being and Productivity

Research consistently shows that employees who feel comfortable and connected to their work environment are happier and more productive. A study by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that workspace design significantly impacts employee well-being and productivity. When employees feel that their cultural identity is acknowledged and respected in their work environment, they are more likely to experience higher job satisfaction and engagement.

At ServiceNow, we have observed that offices designed with cultural sensitivity lead to improved morale and stronger team cohesion. Employees appreciate the effort made to recognise their cultural background, which in turn fosters loyalty and motivation. By creating a work environment that feels like home, we enable our employees to bring their best selves to work every day.

To Wrap Up

Incorporating cultural sensitivity into design projects is not just about aesthetics; it’s about creating environments where employees feel at home and valued. At ServiceNow, this approach is fundamental to how we design our offices around the world. By engaging with our employees to understand their cultural contexts and preferences, we create spaces that are not only beautiful and functional but also deeply resonant with the local identity. This commitment to cultural sensitivity not only enhances employee well-being and productivity but also reinforces our values of inclusivity and respect for diversity.