The Rise of Instagram Moments in the Workplace

The rise of “Instagram Moments” in the workplace says a lot about how far business culture has come over the last decade and the extent to which firms will go to grab attention on social media. Instagram Moments in the workplace help to make a company’s offices seem more exciting, appealing and fun. They’re a little injection of the free-spirit of the internet into the otherwise sober world of work most of us have to endure daily. And they’re a reminder that being at work doesn’t have to be without humour.

Where did the rise of Instagram moments in workplace design begin? Arguably, the blame can be laid squarely at the feet of Instagram itself. The company, based in New York, has made a habit over the years of uploading pictures of its admittedly sexy headquarters onto its Instagram account. A quick look at the firm’s official profile can leave you slack-jawed, staring at the beautiful ways in which the company has combined original photography with stunning office design. This is indeed a company from the future.

However, that still doesn’t explain what Instagram moments actually are. Instagram moments in office design are, in our view, the deliberate use of office props and design features to elicit an emotional response in the viewer, rather like our comical “elephant in the room” we designed into the Mother offices. Instagram moments are about office features that take users by surprise and provoke them to do a “double take” as they suddenly realise that they’re looking at something radically novel. “Huh? Why is there an elephant in the room?”

Why Are Instagram Moments On The Rise In The Workplace?

There are two reasons why Instagram Moments are being used in office design. The first has to do with the incessant need for companies to entice customers on digital channels in new ways. Any advantage in that realm could prove pivotal. Companies desperately need to find ways to grab people’s attention in an increasingly saturated social media space, populated by practically every kind of entertainment you can imagine.

When it comes to Instagram moments, companies are playing on the fact that most people expect office environments to be a dull, dry affair. And so when they see something unusual, their expectations of what an office should be are changed, they are surprised, and they want to share that sense of surprise with others. Instagram moments, therefore, are an almost subversive advertising technique: a visual appeal to the abnormal, even absurd, in the hope that it will generate sufficient interest to be both liked and shared.

It’s a marketing technique, but it speaks to the lengths that companies are using to spread the message about their ethos and values. It doesn’t always pay in today’s attention-limited social media environment to write a long piece of prose about how great your company is. What matters is what you can show people in a flash, and what you can make shareable. That’s what Instagram-able office designs do: they subvert people’s expectations of what an office should be, create a sense of novelty, and incentivise people to share their experiences with their followers.

The other reason for the rise of Instagram moments has to do with staff morale: quirky office designs help to take some of the malaise out of the working environment and remind people that they are a part of a dynamic, talented team all working toward a shared goal. Unlike previous generations, millennials want to believe that they work that they do has purpose. They want to feel like they are on a mission to save the world (or at least make a difference). Showing up to a grey office cubicle is hardly a millennial’s idea of living the dream. And so these design elements can serve as a visual reminder that they are doing something worthwhile – or if not worthwhile – then at least a teeny-weeny bit fun.

The other advantage of Instagram moments is their ability to generate a feeling of wellbeing among staff. Research suggests that beautiful, visually exciting office designs improve worker mood, reduce absenteeism, and enhance creativity.

It’s not every day that you find that what appears to be a frivolous waste of money is, in fact, one of the smartest investment decisions that your company could make. But elephants disappearing into walls serves a double purpose: both to thrill people who might be browsing your social media pages as well as boosting staff morale and productivity. Plus, it’s so counterintuitive: few managers at competing firms will be willing to take the risk of using their offices as epicentres of Instagram Moments, but those that do could see substantial rewards, both financially and, dare we say it, emotionally too.

The Core Features Of An Instagram-able Office

What exactly constitutes an Instagram moment in the workplace is a necessarily slippery concept. It’s essentially whatever engages people online, and relies on novelty. It’s not just about “an abundance of plants”, “rich colour,” or “loads of natural light,” as some popular online business magazines may claim, but rather any element of office design that provokes an emotional response that encourages sharing.

Of course, that’s what makes it hard. You have to be creative. You have to understand the “moments” that your followers will love. And you have to have at least some idea of the limits on what you can do. Just trying to grab attention for the sake of it will be obvious to discerning social media audiences that are used to companies trying cringeworthy and irritating tactics to gain their attention. It has to be clever. You have to do something that people don’t expect. You have to create that “double take” moment, where a person is compelled to look back at your office design for a second and third time to make sure that their eyes have not deceived them.

The takeaway is something like this: if you’re redoing your office any time soon, then it pays to think carefully about how you might leverage it to market your company online. Focus on creating Instagram moments. The better your moments, the more shares you’re likely to get.