The power of people sharing common goals, values, vision, passion & direction.

Beyond joining forces to achieve a company’s bottom line, the corporate world was historically not a place where people came together to promote broader goals, visions, passions, and directions. In the mid-20th century, family, community, and houses of worship were more likely to be embraced as vehicles for change than corporate environments. In short, work was work—a place to toil away at one’s desk but not a place to engineer a different world.

In the 21st century, the corporate world is changing. Today’s employees, managers, and corporate leaders are increasingly committed to engaging in work that truly matters and not simply in terms of the bottom line. The result is a radically new corporate blueprint—a blueprint where the bottom line is enmeshed with shared social values and visions.

Sustainability

When recycling programs were first introduced in the 1990s, resistance was widespread. Old habits die hard and not everyone agreed that workplaces were the ideal test sites for a green revolution. Over time, recycling was embraced as a new norm and as more workplaces accepted recycling, more workplaces also started to look for other ways to go green.

Today, a growing range of workplaces are doing much more than recycling paper and composting coffee grounds. Workers are joining forces with corporate leaders across sectors to explore new ways to build sustainable work environments. They are coming together to imagine new types of workplaces and in some cases, insisting on working in LEED or Passivehouse certified buildings. In many North American cities, businesses are moving their headquarters out of the suburbs and back into city centers where public transportation, car sharing, and bicycle sharing programs are readily available. Today, where one works is about more than convenience—it is about the type of ecological footprint our workplaces produce and recognizing that our collective decisions can and do shape this footprint.

Universal Design

Building sustainable workplaces is not simply about putting the environment first. Today, more people are recognizing that sustainable workplaces are also those where everyone has the potential to be present and thrive. For this reason, the corporate blueprint is increasingly also one that reflects other shared social visions—from diversity to universal design.

As Edward Steinfeld and Jordana Maisel explain, universal design, at its most basic, “seeks to make our built environments, products, and systems as enabling as possible; it seeks both to avoid creating barriers in the first place and, through intelligent use of resources, to provide as much facilitation as possible to reach human goals.”[i] Said another way, universal design is about designing spaces where everyone can thrive—where no one is straining to hear or see or navigate a complex series of staircases. But universal design is not simply about how we build

As universal design touches the corporate blueprint too, it is changing how we work and how we imagine what our work environments might look like. Ultimately, it is about people coming together to enable each other on every level. Of course, this is about more than traditional corporate team building. It is about developing a corporate blueprint that recognizes how sustainability, diversity, access and social change can be embraced as driving forces that align with the bottom line too.


[i] Edward Steinfeld and Jordana Maisel. Universal Design: Creating Inclusive Environments. New Jersey:

John Wiley & Sons, 2012.