First impressions count…creating a positive experience from the get-go

First impressions count…creating a positive experience from the get-go

It all starts here….

Your lobby at home says a lot about you. Is it welcoming and stylish or cold and draughty, devoid of character? That might sound a bit harsh but if your lobby isn’t inviting, why would people want to visit?

The lobby is the point at which you first engage with a visitor, just as it is the first point of engagement with home for a family member. How it feels and how it represents you sets the tone for the interactions that follow.

When it doesn’t feel like work it means you’re working it!

It’s my birthday today and I’m working!

Big deal I hear you say, but if you know me well, you’ll know I never work on my birthday, haven’t for years. So why today? Well, I’m working because what I am doing doesn’t feel like work, simple as that.

I’m sitting in a supportive, creative co-working environment that inspires me. And I’m spending time developing my business and brand in alignment with my goals and principles.

I don’t have any ‘work’ on at the moment in the traditional sense of the word. I’m using the space created by this to develop my ideas, reflect and reset, define what’s important to me and make sure I’m on the right path.

Being self-employed stretches you - you find the edge of what comfort means to you then go beyond it as with the discomfort comes learning and growth.

Allowing myself to have space and time without filling it with a contract is uncomfortable for me, but if I am to follow my plan to remain at the leading edge of my field, I can’t be side tracked.

Staying positive and open is key to allowing the next ideas or projects in, if there’s no room then nothing can enter and grow.

So, I’m sitting back and feeling what it’s like to Learn instead of Earn, to Research instead of Search and to trust that I’m right.

What is it that you’d like to give space to so it can start to flourish?

It could be an idea or a project you’ve been putting off as you’ve just not had time to give to it. What can you do to create that space?

Think about something you do now that doesn’t serve you, time or energy-wise - can you bag it, i.e. stop doing it completely?

If you can’t get rid of it completely can you buy it? Think about buying time by getting rid of a task that you don’t enjoy that you can pay someone else to do it to allow you that extra space and time.

Or in this age of circular economy why not barter it? Bartering with someone that has a skill you need, and you can help in some way could lead to double mutual satisfaction and future partnerships.

Create some space and see what happens, you may be surprised at what grows…

When it doesn’t feel like work it means you’re working it!


All of me: why it’s good to bring your whole self to work

Do you bring you whole self to work?

Do you feel you can, or do parts of you stay at home waiting patiently for your return so you can shrug back into them and be yourself again, comfortable in your skin?

Are you an introvert outside of work, but an extrovert while you are there, or vice versa? How does that feel?

What does it actually mean, “bringing your whole self”?

If you have a supportive, inclusive culture at work, then you will feel comfortable just being “you” which means you probably show up and all of your character is with you, allowing people to connect and ‘know’ you.

Or you may work in an industry where you perceive that certain behaviour is expected of you, so you adopt certain communication and interaction styles that may be at odds with how you are at home. Having worked in construction industry for 25 years, I was someone that felt I had to be slightly aggressive and impersonal to make my way in a male dominated industry. Note that this was my perception of the industry, not necessarily how it was. It didn’t do me any favours but what it did do was create a work persona which was extroverted and had a reputation, not necessarily for the good stuff. It didn’t align with my values and didn’t allow people to know the real me, so it didn’t sit well with me.

It may have worked for the Baby Boomers to have a work self and a home self, but it isn’t working for the next generations. There is no work life balance any more, it’s a work life blend. The lines have irrevocably blurred and will only blur further. The latter generations want to feel a sense of belonging and connection but surely this is cross generational, who doesn’t want to feel connected and that they belong? That they are valued and seen and most importantly, can be themselves?

If we can show up as our authentic true selves, we can connect. Our passions outside of work become known inside, building trust and community. Knowing what your team did at the weekend, and with whom, discovering what is important to them and what they are passionate about will help them feel valued.

Research shows that people with purpose in their life are happier and more fulfilled. This also applies at team and organisation level, if you get to know what lights the fire of your team you will be able to co-create great experiences with them at work.

I used to think that it wasn’t productive to connect when now I feel it is probably the most productive thing we can be doing. Getting to know one another as people, creating social networks, building communities.

Ask yourself whether you are different at home than at work? Now ask yourself why….is it because your work environment doesn’t support you bringing your whole self to work?

Think of a job you really liked and why you liked it – was it the people?  Was it the fact you could be yourself and felt valued for just being you? Was it the culture, the way they did things? Consider what was good about it and whether you can recreate even one element of that in your present workplace.

If we can’t bring our whole self to work that then how can we make meaningful connections and start to enjoy the place where we spend so much of our waking life?

Being your authentic self at work allows you to be all of you, all the time, which can only be a good thing.


People before Place: Why designing for Wellbeing makes dollars and sense

Wellbeing design is becoming more and more prevalent as ongoing research is done to show what positive impacts in productivity and satisfaction can be achieved by considering people as well as place.

Until relatively recently, the marketplace has been focused on Activity Based Working and Agile which is all about the place and the activity people undertake, not the people that inhabit the space and perform the activity. This is what is informing our strategies along with the drivers:

·      How low can we get the sqm per person to?

·      How high can we drive the sharing ratio?

Utilisations studies that I’ve been involved with all sit within a similar rage - we know around 75% of meetings are 4 people or less and that typical average occupancy is 40-55% - lets focus on something else!

We know ABW isn’t working in some instances as it is being revisited to try and “fix” the issues. What if we create a new strategy?

Forget the “what do your team do and who do they need to sit next to?” of a typical workplace strategy mantra and welcome to the “who are your team and what lights their fire?” approach.

To design spaces that make people feel good we need to put them front and centre in the transformation process and look at each organisation’s unique make-up to determine what solution would best suit them.  In this way we can create communities that connect people and allow them to flourish.

Start thinking about what is the passion of the people that work with/for you and do they get to experience it at work? Get to know who you are designing for as people.

Think of a job you really liked and why you liked it – was it the people?  What was good about it and can you recreate that in your present workplace?

Change the question to ask Who are we? vs What do we do?

Who are your people? Are they introvert or extrovert? Do they identify with LGBTQI?

An introvert will experience the same space very differently to an extrovert. Some of the most common feedback in the feedback surveys for ABW or new way of working solutions is that noise is an issue and that there are more interruptions. All kryptonite to an introvert. If you have a business which by its nature attracts introverts, perhaps an open plan ABW solution isn’t for you. We need to take a more multi-faceted approach to how we are defining and designing workplaces.

Designing for people to feel supported and valued at work can be a seemingly simple move like providing toilets that cater for our gender identities or providing spaces for reflection and prayer for those that would benefit from them. Getting to know your people and what’s important to them will create better results for everyone.

Even though we are all unique we do share personality traits and by finding out more about who our people are and what makes them tick we can start to design spaces that uplift rather than disconnect.

Working with the HR team will help you unlock information from personality or psyche tests to show trends of the type of people your organisation is employing. Churn rates in certain teams will identify issues which you may be able to address. unless we add people into our strategy in a greater sense we will be doing the same thing ten years from now with the same results.

Once we know more about our people we can work with them on tailored solutions which will help to create connected communities.

Talk to your people, survey them – change the question sets to be more people focussed rather than about the place.

The proof of the success of designing for Health and Wellbeing will be found in the sick leave statistics, the churn rates, the staff retention and just how awesome your tribe gets as your vibe attracts in likeminded people to your community.

If you really want to know if it has been successful – look at the bottom line, people who feel valued and seen and have a sense of belonging at work will be making a positive impact on that!

To have truly present, alive and charged-up humans at work that will contribute positively we need to put People before Place.



Slow down to catch-up: fostering connection in the workplace

Slow down to catch-up: fostering connection in the workplace

As our work and non-work life continues to integrate and evolve, one of the challenges facing companies and the people within them today is connection. With the rise of flexible working practices, Activity Based Working, the third place and the ability to get hold of anyone, anywhere at any time, you might feel that we are more connected than ever. However, these working practices can result in disconnected teams, either by geography or workstyle.

Gallup research demonstrates that having strong social connections at work makes employees more likely to be engaged with their jobs, more effective at them and less likely to be absent due to illness. Its hard wired into our DNA, from a time when social connections provided security and food.  Building relationships within the workplace is harder than ever as we sit in back to back meetings and focus on our numerous screens, making social face to face interaction harder. Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy wrote an article in late 2017 entitled “Work and the Loneliness Epidemic” published in The Harvard Business Review with the tagline “Reducing isolation at work is good for business.”

Positive relationships can help us feel grounded, secure and reduces stress levels but as we spend more time working and the line between work and home blurs, how can companies provide spaces that foster connection, thus improving staff wellbeing?

Although the spatial response to foster connection doesn’t replace the social one, they can be developed in tandem. The culture which supports the creation of authentic social connections within a company can be augmented by spaces which consider this.

One such space is the bump space, a space where people accidentally meet and end up having a chat that may otherwise not have happened.

What makes a successful bump space? Think about the energy of the bump space, if it’s too fast moving like a corridor connecting point A to point B, it’s hard to slow down and stop, a nod will suffice or a “we must catch up”. More successful are the staff social spaces, as we wait for the coffee machine or microwave we have a break in our concentration on work that allows connectivity, although we are still focussed on a task, lunch!

The key to a space which allows us to disconnect from work to reconnect with our peers is calm energy. An energy that allows us to become more present and engage genuinely. When we slow down, we are more available to connect.

Think of kayaking a river – would you be slowing down for a chat while negotiating rapids? Not likely but you may be more open to connection when you are drifting in a slow current or focussing on something that inspires or intrigues you in nature.

Design can create a focal point or points that encourage people to slow down, stop, comment, commence dialogue, engage. Art can do this, as can nature, it needs to be significant enough to create a “pause” and positioned so that we can ease ourselves out of the flow of the current for a while.

Sometimes it’s good to slow down to catch-up.