An organic organizational structure refers to a flexible workplace with a horizontal mode of communication. Also known as an open structure, a flat structure, and a horizontal structure.
The Organic Organization
“Organic Organization” is defined by the Canadian management scientist Henry Mintzberg as “a young organization that has to deal with a complex and dynamic environment. To respond quickly to changes, teams are needed that can work well together and have the necessary decision-making authority, responsibility, and resources.”
From a different perspective, every organization is organic, namely when it comes to physical size. Companies move like an organism on a daily basis: grow, shrink, move, share, and so on. But how do you facilitate this in an office building that usually requires a long-term lease obligation?
First of all, it starts with a good analysis of space requirements – both now and into the future. Think about changes within your organization, market conditions and the way in which your employees will perform their work in the future.
A good example of this is the legal profession; traditionally, law firms worked in a so-called “cell office” where employees were locked up in office “rooms” – the larger the room, the higher in rank.
But we see a change in this. Apart from the fact that housing costs were extremely high – law firms are usually located in expensive locations – the younger generation of lawyers attaches less value to having their own rooms. It is more important for them to be able to learn and work together in a pleasant working environment. The result: more open spaces, shared office rooms for concentrated work, and hybrid environments. By the latter we mean spaces that have multiple functions, such as a restaurant that can be used for informal consultations outside lunch hours. A condition for this is of course that the institution facilitates this.
These kinds of changes will probably also play a role within your organization. So think about how your organization can “breathe” within the size of the space that you rent.
No matter how well you do your homework, things can always go differently than expected. That is why it is good to also negotiate a certain degree of flexibility in your lease. To facilitate any growth you can think of a “first right of lease” on new floors in the building. Conversely, you want the option to be able to dispose of or sublet some of the property during the lease term. These matters are not provided for in the standard ROZ rental contract, so arrange it well during contract negotiations.
Many organizations offer employees the opportunity to work from home. As an additional possibility to create flexibility, we see a trend that larger companies also enter into memberships with co-working operators such as WeWork, Spaces, Tribes, and Corporate Places. This gives employees the opportunity to meet and collaborate with colleagues at different places in the country (and beyond) without having to travel to their own “clubhouse.” The disadvantage is, of course, that the DNA of your organization is missing in these locations.
Your organization can successfully advance with developments in workplaces, but you have to be intentional. In brief:
§ Ensure flexibility in your lease, such as the first right of lease or the possibility to sublet space;
§ Design your office space in such a way that it is future-proof and spaces can be hybrid;
§ If you cannot accommodate peaks in the current accommodation, and/or if there is a need for more geographical spread, consider co-working solutions.
Erik Tijsma (1975) has an architectural background. He started at DTZ in 2000 (now Cushman & Wakefield), followed by several years at G-Star as Global head of real estate. Since 2010 Erik has served as partner and shareholder of Solved. He specializes in strategic real estate advice and transactions.
Solved (2008, Amsterdam) is the leading tenant rep firm in the Netherlands. Our team of 15 specialists advise clients with real estate strategy, transactions and project management. Currently Solved advises international companies such as Polaroid, Mizuho bank, Greenpeace, Karl Lagerfeld and IDEXX.
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