Corner Office's don't Build Community | The Evolution of the Workplace


Over centuries work has evolved from a labour some, back breaking manual task to what today some of us refer to as a "cushy office job"!

And we have the invention of machines and technology, a few key players and a pandemic to thank, as the catalysts for this change.

However, some things have very much stayed the same, even though the world we are living and working in today, is very different to the world in which these things were created for.

In today's episode I'm winding back the clock just over 100 years as we start to look at;

  1. The impact of machines and technology on how we work
  2. How and why, we work 8hrs and 5 days a week
  3. How technology drove our need for workplaces and their design
  4. The research on what our workplaces really need to do now and into the future.


This is one of my favourite conversations and I'm so excited to be sharing it with you here today!


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TRANSCRIPT - Corner Offices don't build Community | The Evolution of the Workplace

Speaker: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome back. Now, before we jump into today's episode, I want to give you a little update on what's going on around here at the moment. So if you're following me over on all the socials, you may have noticed that we've been running the five day workplace challenge, that was on last week.

And this week the doors to my workplace dynamics blueprint, the program, , open. Now those doors are going to be open from. Yesterday, which was Monday, the 27th of May through to Monday, the 3rd of the June. That's when doors will be closing. Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with my Workplace Dynamics Blueprint, this is a program that I haven't run for about two years because of all the things that are going on with babies and my life.

 So now is your opportunity to jump in and join me inside the program. So if you have read my book, you've been listening along to this podcast for a while, you'd be familiar with the type of work that I do and how I work with my clients over at community to support them, to unpack all of that information.

Data that exists in their organization to help them start to think forward into the future and to put all of it into practice in their workplace strategy, which we then [00:02:00] use to go forward and create their next workplace. Inside this program, I am taking you through all of the research, the learnings, the trainings, sharing with you all of my templates and tools that I use inside work I do with my clients.

for joining us. I'm taking you through all of that. I'm sharing with you how you can start to prepare your organization to unpack all that existing data, to start getting the right people engaged to come with you on this journey. think of this as your guide to getting you from point A to point B and ready to go out there and engage with the market to create your next workplace.

So the Workplace Dynamics Blueprint is centers around five pillars. We look at re imagining the future, brand and culture, values and behaviors, workplace wellbeing, employee experience. Now I'm going to be taking you through each of those five pillars. And then our sixth module is all about how we can actually then bring this to life.

So you've done all of the work, you've got all of the insights that you need to do. The last pillar is really about writing your market brief. Figuring out how to bring this all together. Who do I need to bring on this ride with me internally and externally? It's the last link to bring it all together so that you have that confidence to be able to go forth and deliver this for your organization.

Now, I know that this can be a really big job for most clients because it's something that they haven't had to do before. It's something that's very new to them. And to be honest, it is a very complex task. There are a lot of people that need to be involved in this process. I want to help hold your hand through it.

I want to take some of that anxiety and some of that stress away by giving you a formula. I'm going to take you through it step by step. As I said, with all of the templates, the tools and the resources that I use in my own business so that you can go away and do this well. I want you to emerge armed with all of the knowledge and the assets that you're going to need to develop your own action plan.

You can [00:04:00] rally those right people internally and go out and engage with the market in confidence. So, as I said, the doors to that one are open and they are closing on Monday, the 3rd of June. I'll be putting some links in the show notes for you, so you can drop there and come along and join us. Now, throughout this launch week, we are having a little bit of fun.

And so every day. through to Friday of this week, I will be going live on all the socials. So that's on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. And at 9. 30 every day, I'll be sharing with you insights and opportunities and some of the challenges that my clients have experienced and how we deal with them in the program.

So if you're interested in learning more, jump over and join me on any of the socials, again, note the links are in the show notes and I'll be sharing them there and you can ask me questions and I'd be happy to answer them as well. The other thing that I'll be doing is on Wednesday the 29th, I will be hosting a live masterclass.

So that's going to be happening at 12 30 pm. Now, this masterclass is the secret to creating a dynamic workplace. Now, I'm really excited about sharing this one with you because what I see is that so many organizations are still trying to create a workplace where the people are going to love coming to work, but they're missing a few important ingredients.

And so I'm going to be sharing those little ingredients with you in my masterclass. Just so that you can start to have a little bit of a glimpse into what your future workplace might look like. So I'm going to share with you how to align the hearts, the bodies and minds of your people for performance, the science of human connection and why we really do need our workplaces.

Plus, I'm going to be sharing with you the impact that you can expect to see this have on your people. And on your bottom line, so there'll be a link in the show notes for you to be able to register for that one as well. And I'm going to be having some special bonuses on [00:06:00] offer for those that join me live on the masterclass when they join the program.

So be sure to come along and join me with that one. As I said, I'm going to be sharing some secrets with you on how to really get And create a space where people are going to want to be, and they're going to enjoy being there. So that is all of the fun that's happening in the program over the next week.

As I said, doors are closing on Monday, the 3rd of June. I would love you to come and join me. If you've read the book, then this is the natural next step for you. If you're ready to go to market, you're getting ready, you're starting to think about this. And ideally. If you're joining me in this program, your lease isn't expiring for probably the next 18 months to two years.

This process takes time. This should be done well and truly before you even start thinking about going out to market to find that next space, because we're going to look at how much space you actually need. What does the floor plate need to think about? How are your people going to come together? What's it going to be the best location?

What experience do you want your people to have when they come to your workplace? So these are all the things that we're going to be diving into in the program. So if you've got any questions, send me a DM, shoot me an email. Happy to chat but as I said, doors are closing on the 3rd of June and they aren't likely to be opening again.

Anytime this year. I put a lot of effort into making sure that people are supported through this program and, um. I need to be able to do that alongside all of my other beautiful clients in community. So I want to make sure that I can give it my full attention. So the doors will only be opening this once.

And as I said, it's probably been two years since I ran this program. So unique opportunity, jump in and join me there. So links to that one are in the show notes and I look forward to seeing you there. But. Now back to today's episode.

Today, I want to have a chat with you about the way that our workplaces [00:08:00] are built, the way that they are created, and how work has significantly changed and transformed our lives. Over many, many, many years, this isn't something that's just happened as a result of the pandemic. Although that has been a huge catalyst for us to rethink how we work, but this has been happening for a much, much longer time, and I want to take you through that journey and think about this.

And as today's title suggests, corner offices do not build community. So let's take a bit of a trip down memory lane to get us going. And I want us to start thinking about the way that machines and technology have. Completely influence the way that we work. Now we want to go back a century here and think about the way that work used to be done.

It used to be a very manual, laborsome task. If we needed to dig a hole, we had to do it with a shovel. You know, We had to get our hands dirty and it was literally. Backbreaking work, but with the introduction of machines and technology, our work has shifted. Our work has changed. We're no longer out there digging those holes with our shovels.

We've got machines that do it. We've got backhoes, we've got drill augers. We've got all of this mechanical equipment that is enabling us to dig those holes much more efficiently and with greater speed. Now. What's happened though, as a result of this is the way that our work has shifted. So really great example of this is if we go and we think about the garbage collector.

Now. If you're of a certain vintage, you would remember how the garbage collector used to pick up the garbage bin and they would tip it into the back of the truck. And you've probably seen it in some American movies. The garbage collector was a really fit man who would pick these bins up and throw them into the back, all the empty of the rubbish into the back of the truck.

But you think about the way that our garbage collectors collect our rubbish today. They have trucks. With [00:10:00] machines that lift the bins up and tip them into the truck. The garbage collector does not leave the cabin of the truck. He sits there, drives the truck all day long without getting up. He has become extremely sedentary in his work.

Work application, and so you can imagine the impact that that has had on the physique of that truck driver by comparison to the physique of the earlier garbage collector who was out there physically picking up the bins and tipping the rubbish into the back of the truck. So that's just a really easy to understand example of how work has changed and how work has been influenced by machines and technology.

So we know that as machines and technology continues to evolve, it's changing the way that we work. And if we think about the way that technology has evolved, the smartphone that you carry around in your, pocket is more powerful than an early nineties supercomputer, which took up the size of a bedroom, like they were giant.

So that computing power that took up our whole bedroom, we now walk around with that in our pocket. And as technology continues to evolve. We know that by 2050, a computer is going to be smarter than all the human brains on Earth. Now that's pretty interesting because you think about the way that chat GPT and AI has continued to influence the way that we work.

This is only going to continue. And what that means is we need to start thinking about, well, how is our workplaces going to need to shift? If we no longer needing to do those tasks that we are currently doing, because that's going to be replaced by the way that Computers can interact with us the way that they can do those pieces of work for us.

We're using automation. We're using AI. What does that mean in terms of what I get to do in my workplace? And therefore what tools am I going to [00:12:00] need to actually do my work? And this is where we start to think about, well, what are those human skills that can't be replaced by a computer? That's our ability to be creative.

It's our ability to be innovative. It's our ability to show empathy and to connect with other people. It's all of those social skills that are coming together in our workplaces that are going to be the things that are going to be retained. Now that type of work. Doesn't happen sitting at a desk. We also know that technology is only just continuing to evolve.

Now you think about it, we have five generations of people within our workplaces right now, and the youngest generation that is coming through, they were born with technology in their hands. They could navigate your smartphone before they could talk. I don't know about you, but my kids certainly know how to navigate through my phone and get to the YouTube channel and turn on the wiggles because that is of interest to them.

And they know how to do this because they are digital natives. We also know that through technology, we are always contactable. It doesn't matter where I am or what I'm doing. Someone can always reach me on my mobile phone. unless you're in a really bad signal service, but the majority of the time you are contactable.

But the flip side of this is that technology has also given us something back. We now have the ability to work anywhere, anytime, because we're no longer tethered. We're no longer tethered to a space where we needed to go to work. And this is where I want to take you back down a little bit of a history lesson on how work came to be the way it is right now.

 [00:14:00] So, One of the interesting facts is that it was back in the late 1800s that the eight hour workday was initially started. Now this all happened because there was a gentleman called Robert Owen who lobbied for an eight hour workday. And the reason being was that As with industrialization, there was this growth of the middle class wealth.

They had all of this money that they had previously not had access to. And so they felt like they needed more time to actually be able to spend this newfound wealth that they had created. And so what Robert Owen did was he lobbied to create the eight hour work day. So they had eight hours of work, eight hours of play, and then eight hours of rest.

And that's eight, eight and eight. So that was in the late 1800s. But it wasn't until the 1920s that our five day work day actually came into play. So thanks to Henry Ford, who wanted to run his factories 24 hours a day, because he thought that they were going to be more efficient and more productive by doing so.

He said, well, I'm going to run my factories on three, eight hour shifts. So that's the three, eight hour shifts over 24 hours. In all of my generosity, I'm only going to make you work five days a week. So that's where the five day a week, eight hour a day, 40 hour work week started a hundred years ago in 1920 with Henry Ford.

So a lot's changed since then, but we're still working on this Monday to Friday, nine to five. 40 hour work week. Now, the next big shift that happened was our knowledge workers started with the rise and rise of technology. We basically picked up all of our industrialized working [00:16:00] and we shifted it into the office landscape.

And what that looked like was we took the same principles, we took the same idea of this factory line working and rows and rows and rows of cubicles, and we lifted it and we shifted it into an office environment. Now, this was happening over time, slowly, slowly over time, because within the factories, they had these smaller offices, but eventually the offices overtook the factories with the rise of technology.

Now, these were designed because that was the way of working that we knew. It was the Taylorist model. This is our production line and we shifted it all into our workplaces. And if you think about the design of those workplaces, they were the L shaped desk and they were in these rows and rows of cubicles.

Thank you. Now, the reason that they were the L shaped desk was because of the large monitors that we used to have. So if you think about it, you might recall the big box monitors, they had the big deep back. That is why those L shaped desks were designed the way that they were. So we sat working into the corner because we needed the depth on the desk to actually house the equipment that we needed to use to do the work that we needed to do.

And unfortunately, if you look around some of the workplaces that we still have today, That is still present because we've got accustomed to working into those corners. However, the equipment that we use no longer requires it. It's just a legacy that has been left behind over time. Now, the other thing that I want to point out here was if we think about what I mentioned, the super cute computer earlier, that 90 super computer that took up the size of our bedroom.

The reason that we used to have to come to work was because we couldn't afford to have this technology. Ourselves. We couldn't personalize and own this technology ourselves. We had to rely on our employers to provide our working equipment. So just as we went to work in the factories, they provided all the machines that we needed to do all of the work to produce all of the widgets that got popped out the back of the factory.

We needed our. [00:18:00] Employers to provide that level of technology for us as well. We couldn't afford to own our own computers. And so if you go back and when I was a child, there were no computers in our home. You had to be of a certain wealth to be able to have your own computer. We used to have them at school.

We used But we certainly didn't own them. It wasn't until university that computers actually became affordable, that you could actually own one on your own. So we needed to go to our workplaces to actually access this technology. The tools of our trade needed to be provided by our employers, but that's no longer the case.

Most of us have got a laptop or a computer. Or several, and our kids have got them because they need them for school. So now we have this ubiquitous access to technology that we don't need to rely on our employers to provide those particular tools. The other thing is they're highly mobile. We don't need to go to the workplace to utilize that equipment anymore because we can tack it up and we can actually take it home with us.

We can take it on the train. We can take it on the bus. We can take it on holidays. We can move it around with us. So we've become. highly mobile, and really no longer have this need to be tethered to these workplaces, or needing to go there to access the tools of our trade because we have access to them in other locations.

Now, the next big shift that happened in our work evolution was, of course, in 2020, the pandemic. Now, what the pandemic did was it was a real catalyst for us to start rethinking how we work. It started to reshape the way that we needed to engage with our workplaces because our mindsets all shifted. And this is where we started to see hybrid work introduced.

We found that we don't need to go to the office to do our jobs anymore because our tools are mobile. We could work from home and we had to, that was what we needed to do. So we've [00:20:00] proven now it's possible. And now we're needing to start to rethink what this evolution of work is looking like for us. And so if we start thinking about this, we know that hybrid work has given us a lot back.

And according to research that was done by McRindle, the thing that workplace hybrid work has given us is that. Being able to work remotely has really enhanced our experience of work. It's given us greater work life balance. We've got greater flexibility in our working hours. And this ability to work in different places has enabled us to find spaces and places that support that deep thinking, that reflection time, that deep cognitive work that we need to do.

And we all know that our workplaces have been criticized for a number of years Ability for them to be able to support that deep thinking and that lack of focus, concentrated work because they've been too noisy, or we don't have that space because they've been designed under this very typical typology of an office.

A workstation and a meeting room. And it really hasn't given any rise to any other kind of work style that's needed to happen in there. But we've also identified that the workplace environment has also been enhancing our experience of work because we've found it somewhere that we are able to build really strong relationships with our colleagues and with our leaders.

And it's also a place that we need to use and go to because it supports Collaboration. Now, further research that Microsoft have done has also backed this up. So what Microsoft have found is that there are three ways that our workplaces are really supporting the need and the experience of work for our people.

And the first one is through onboarding.

We need our workplaces to support the onboarding experience for our people, because this is way that we can. [00:22:00] Encourage people to come into the office that can connect with colleagues and we can immerse them in the culture of the organization really quickly. They can come up to speed with who we are as an organization really, really quickly because they're being able to connect in with the business and with everybody else and really immerse themselves in that culture.

The second reason that we need our workplaces is for social connection. This is where I come to build those relationships with my colleagues. I can connect in, I can engage in events. It's, this is where we build that sense of community because we're coming together and we're engaging in activities of a common purpose and we're building those social bonds.

And the third way that we're coming into our workplaces is for project kickoff meetings. We are coming together to start projects. This is where we are using the collective brains trust. We are collaborating. We're brainstorming. We are building out the strategy for this project. But then the individual work, the actual execution of that is happening offsite.

We don't need to be around each other to be able to execute on these strategies. That's more of an individual task. So what this means is that we really need to start thinking about building our workplaces differently because the needs of our workplaces have changed. If we're going to be building thriving communities in our workplaces, They're going to need to be very, very different spaces.

And we're going to need very different places to actually enable this. The corner office, the cubicles and the rows and rows of workstations are really not going to cut it. We need to start rethinking the role of place and what it's contributing to the needs of its user. Your people, how are they needing a place to show up for them?

What is the tools that they're going to need in that space to enable them to work productively, effectively, to deliver on the [00:24:00] strategies and expectations and goals and visions of the organization. They are the people that we are building these workplaces for. our people. So these places need to respond to the needs of them, your user.

And so what we need to do is start to think about the roles of our workplaces and what they are doing. So if you, Missed the previous episode where I spoke about the art of gathering and taking a placemaking perspective. Jump back and tune into that episode because I take you through a really simple framework to start thinking about the types of questions that you should be asking and answering within your organization to start to think What is your next workplace really need to look like?

What is the role that it needs to fill in supporting your organization to achieve its goals, to enabling your people to be able to do the work that they need to do? Because as we know, Corner offices are not going to build community. That is not how we are going to connect. We're not how we're going to collaborate.

It's not how we are going to be able to communicate effectively because it's just reinforcing silos. Our workplaces are about building community. It's about bringing people together, creating relationships, building and strengthening those bonds, all with common sense of purpose and with meaning. And all of these things are contributing and communicating to your people every single day through symbols.

Actions, totems that they are seeing in your workplace. These are all giving your people cues on how you're expecting them to behave, but also the type of work that you want them to do. So take a moment. If you haven't listened to that previous episode, jump back, tune into that one. Start asking those questions in your organization, because you have some very unique opportunities when you start to rethink your workplace on how you can [00:26:00] start to build a thriving community.

Thanks for tuning in again this week. I hope you've enjoyed this episode. If you have, please share it with someone else who you think might enjoy it. Jump over to the app, rate it, drop me a review. I would love to hear from you. And if you've got any questions or you think that this is something you want to explore, or you want to join the program, or you have some questions about that, and you're not really sure if it's for you, send me an email, I'd be happy to jump on a call and have a chat with you, but until next week, have a great week.

I hope to see you in the program, but otherwise I'll be back next week with another episode.