Authenticity and the Workplace in the Digital Age

“It started as a discussion with Michael Altman from Emedia Design about the similarities between workplace design and marketing, but quickly evolved into a deeper conversation about authenticity and the importance of connections throughout all aspects of life. We instantly realized that we are designers with the same goals but very different mediums (mine being space, his being web design or copy). We both aim to understand and represent our clients the best way possible, and we both agreed that authenticity and vulnerability is key.

Michael pointed out that success in business, or even your personal life, is all about defining yourself, having a clear message, and being open to genuine connections that allow you to share your message and learn from others’. He used a heart pumping metaphor to describe this relationship of give and take – sometimes you’re pushing out your message and finding ways to use your skills or strengths to help others, and as a result, sometimes you’re the one receiving other’s messages, making new connections, or learning from someone else. As Michael put it, we all have our own unique qualities and if we just put ourselves out there, it can be scary, but, more often than not, it opens us up to meaningful experiences and opportunity for growth.

Digital Age Authenticity

This conversation helped me to articulate my belief that authenticity is not only an important personal value that I try my best to uphold, but also an idea that is increasingly critical in the digital age, to both individuals and companies. With the integration of numerous social media platforms and digital devices into every aspect of our lives, authenticity isn’t only about what we say, how we dress, or how we act, it’s about how we portray ourselves in the digital world, as well. No one likes to feel deceived by another’s Instagram profile. And the same goes for companies and their clients or consumers. In fact, according to the Forbes article, Ten New Findings About the Millennial Consumer, 43% of Millennials rank authenticity over content when consuming news.

Authentic Workplace

Other reputable sources like the Harvard Business Review feature many articles that advocate for the importance for authenticity in the workplace, because authentic leadership fosters authentic space that creates a safe place for creativity, expression, and collaboration. The authentic space best reflects the collections of individuals that comprise the company and allows them to be their best genuine selves and share their strengths freely, fostering happiness, camaraderie, and productivity. Much like digital media acts as an extension of our identities, workplace architecture acts the same, and striving for authenticity will not only create the best environment from within, but it will attract others to you in a positive way.”

Mary Kate Genis, Junior Workplace Design Strategist, regularly reflects on her experiences as she discovers how design impacts workplaces and the way people work in Cincinnati.

Follow her on LinkedIn to keep up with her experiences and insights.

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