Everything communicates–everything you say and do, and where you say and do it. The core of a BRAVE culture is why; BRAVE cultures are made up of behaviors, relationships, attitudes, values and the environment:
- Behaviors: What impact? Implementation.
- Relationships: How to connect? Communication.
- Attitude: How to win? Choices.
- Values: What matters and why? Purpose.
- Environment: Where to play? Context.
Per an earlier article for Forbes, culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage. But environment sets the stage and context for that and must contribute to and reinforce it. Servcorp’s Marcus Moufarrige and WeWork’s Rebekah and Adam Neumann get this. They run businesses devoted to creating environments–though with diametrically opposite views of what makes for the right environment.
The behemoth in the flexible office space is Regus with their global network of 3,000 locations in 900 cities and 120 countries. There are several organizations nipping at their heels in this growing market. We Works and Servcorp have taken strikingly different approaches.
Servcorp – Superior Office Solutions For Serious Professionals
Marcus Moufarrige told me that Servcorp is all about “making businesses more successful.” As Servcorp’s COO, he’s focused on the first impression his resident clients make on others and the business support and technology platform Servcorp provides them.
He gave me a tour of their facility on the 85th floor of the World Trade Center in New York City. Everything about it suggested a space for serious professionals. Polished greeting. Astounding views. Premium décor and decorations. Spotless kitchen (with labels facing forward on all the beers in the fridge). The shared co-working space had relatively few people, all working diligently on their own or in pairs.
It felt like Servcorp is in the business of providing superior office solutions for serious professionals who need flexible space and service based on their locations, support staff including receptionists and executive assistants and technology including their own global telecommunications platform that makes connecting with others impressively simple.
As Marcus told the New York Business Journal‘s Anthony Noto, “We believe that not everyone wants to come to work in shorts, ride their scooter to work, play ping pong and have beers at lunch. There will certainly be demand for a premium product in flexible space with a high level of service and infrastructure.”
WeWork – Space, Community And Services
Conversely, WeWork says it gives people the “space, community, and services you need to make a life, not just a living” based on their locations, services and community-building in-house activities, ranging from thought-leader panels to cheese tastings, that help nurture client teams’ cultures.
At one level they are most definitely out to create a community. Their website says “we know how to work, and we know how to have fun.” Their millennial clients are drawn to their “distinct aesthetic and vibe” that inspires teams. WeWork has become the go-to flexible office space for millennial entrepreneurs.
It doesn’t take a lot of digging to realize that this is a reflection of WeWork’s own culture. Co-founder Rebekah Neumann says she set out to “impact people in a really positive way” and told the Observer‘s Margaret Abrams that in WeWork she found her “do what you love” moment.
The Neumanns are all about modeling great leadership as what they call “we” people. As they told Fortune‘s Susie Gharib, their leadership is about “bringing meaning and intention to the world” and being a person who “really cares about people.” In their minds WeWorks is a place where “we” people, often first-time leaders, come together to live and work.
Implications For You
I’m not suggesting either more serious or more purpose-driven spaces are better. They are different. And environment is a non-trivial cultural choice. Some prefer shorts, some pin-stripe suits.
This is another example of the importance of be-do-say. What you say to people about what matters is one thing. They may or may not believe you. They will believe what you do, how you show up and act. But matching your words and actions or environmental choices is not enough unless they match your fundamental beliefs.