Using Place to connect to the Hearts, Bodies and Minds of your People


Often when we look at our workplaces, we think of them as property. As real estate.  And sadly, often as a balance sheet liability.  But they have the potential to be so much more than that!⁠


Your work place is an underutilised asset in attracting and connecting to your people.


Often spoken about in the terms of “People, Place & Technology” our workplaces should not be devoid of our humanity.


They are created for our people.  That means that they need to be Personal. Human. 

And when you take a human centred approach to creating a workplace, what you are really doing is connecting to the hearts, bodies & minds of your people.

❤️ When I say heart, I'm talking about the collective emotion of a space. Otherwise known as the culture of an organisation. The brand and story of a company and the emotional connection it creates and ripples outwards. ⁠

🧘🏽 When I say body, I'm talking about the physical environment and like a body, is it put together for agility and performance or is it slow, rigid and fixed?⁠

🧠 And when I say mind, I'm talking about the technology that makes it all possible. The ability to plug our culture into our place and connectivity to one another. ⁠



Get your copy of Mel’s new Book “The Next Workplace; Designing Dynamic Environments that Inspire Human Potential”

Masterclass - The Secret to Creating a Dynamic Workplace. 
Learn how to align the hearts, bodies and minds, to create environments that positively influence our behaviour and performance, inspiring our human potential.


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TRANSCRIPT - Using place to connect to the hearts, bodies & minds of your people

Speaker: [00:00:00] Hello. Hello. And welcome back to another episode of Work Life by Design. Now, if you have been an avid listener for the last few weeks, you will know that the Workplace Dynamics Blueprint program was in launch mode in this past week, but the doors now are officially closed. So I want to say thank you for joining us.

Speaker: Coming along and joining me on this journey as I went through the launch week, we did a daily live over on all the socials. If you missed those, you can go back and watch them over on my website. Just head over to the media page and to watch, and you'll see those there. But the other thing that I did during that week was I held a masterclass.

Speaker: So this was a paid masterclass called the secret to creating a dynamic workplace. And it was really about. Starting to sort of show you what it's possible when you create a workplace that your people actually like, they love coming to work, there's a place where they want to be. And you might be surprised that the.

Speaker: Workplace isn't the be all and end all of doing that. It is a big part of it. It is the container. It is the space that holds all of this. And as you would have been tuning in and listening to over the last few weeks, when we're talking about this particular season, it's all about creating community and community is A multilayered approach.

Speaker: It's the workplace [00:02:00] itself is just one aspect of that. But today I want to share with you some of the cliff notes from that masterclass and dive into what it is that we need to be thinking about and how we can take action around actually using our place to connect the hearts, the bodies, and the minds of our people.

Speaker: Now I said, this is the cliff notes to the masterclass. If you're interested in watching the full masterclass head over. To the show notes down below and click on the link and it'll take you through to where you can access that one there, but today I'm just going to give you the highlight reel from what's there so that you can decide whether or not you want to go and dive deeper into this, because I think that the opportunity that we have to really use our place and leverage it to connect to the hearts, the bodies, and the minds of our people is often a lost opportunity.

Speaker: And when we talk about. Our property portfolio or our workplaces in our industry, we often refer to it in terms of people, place and technology. So people, obviously the people that we are supporting and looking after and creating these environments for the place itself. So the actual physical property, the real estate that the environment takes up and the technology is that how it all connects together and what it plugs in.

Speaker: But I think there's a really important element that's missing here. And whilst it might be a little bit of semantics. What we are really talking about here is connecting to the hearts, the bodies, and the minds of our people. Now, our workplaces are designed for people. That is why we create them. We create them so that we can bring our people together.

Speaker: So we need to be taking a much more human centered approach, a much more people orientated approach to how we look at them. And looking at why we actually create them in the first place. What is the purpose that they're fulfilling? How are they supporting our people to do their best work, to flourish at work, to really thrive and how we using those elements of people, place, and technology to support them.

Speaker: So that's what I want to take you through [00:04:00] today. I want to look at it from this lens of heart, body, and mind, and taking this much more human centered approach. So when I'm talking about the heart. What I'm really talking about here is the collective emotion of a space. This is really what it's all about is otherwise known as the culture of an organization.

Speaker: And when we start to unpack that it's about the brand, it's about the story of the company. And what is the emotional connection that this creates? So when I'm coming to work for an organization, how am I feeling? Feeling about the business. How am I feeling about the other people? How am I feeling about the space?

Speaker: It's all intertwined and it's all interconnected and it really starts to ripple out foot. So we're going to dive into this a little bit more in detail. When I'm talking about the body, I'm really talking about the physical environment, the body. Built form that surrounds us, all the things that we can see, touch, hear, taste, smell.

Speaker: That is the physical, tangible things. It is a sensory journey that we take our people on when they come into our workplaces. How do we take them on this journey of feeling all of those sensations and connecting to it? And just like a body, is your workplace built for agility? Performance, adaptability, or is it really slow and rigid and fixed?

Speaker: And when I'm talking about the mind, what I'm really talking about here is the technology. This is what makes it all possible. The technology is how we plug ourselves in. It's how we connect our culture to our physical environment. It's how we communicate. It's how we understand what is happening. It's the bit that connects us all together and to one another.

Speaker: And we're going to dive into that. In a lot more detail shortly. So to kick us off, let's start with the heart. Now the heart, as I said, is about the collective emotion of a space. It's how we bring people together. It's the way that we feel. It's the way that we experience our space. It's the way we experience our businesses.

Speaker: And. You know, people are drawn together. It's in our DNA. We are hardwired [00:06:00] to want belonging, to want connection, to feel like we're part of something bigger. It's that desire for us to feel connected and our workplaces can start to offer that in so much more depth. And if we look back through history, we come together.

Speaker: And we coordinate effectively when we all are collectively believing in something. And historically it might be a myths or legends. You know, we may have worshiped the sun and the moon and the spirits and the stars, but today those things that we worshiping, the things that we are believing in look more like our purpose, our brand, and our values of an organization.

Speaker: And so what we want to be doing here is connecting into those and leveraging them to Embed them into the physical environment of our workplaces so that we're starting to connect to that emotion of the people that we want to be working with. Who do we want working for our organization? Who are the clients that we want to attract to our business?

Speaker: Because as Simon Sinek says, it's about attracting those who believe what you believe. So as an organization, what do you believe? What is your purpose? What is your grand vision beyond making money? What is your story? Where did you come from? Where are you going? What makes you different? There are a multitude of companies out there that are doing exactly the same thing as you, but they do it for a different purpose.

Speaker: They have a different set of reasons. They have a different set of values around what is important to them as an organization. They have a different origin story. They come from different beginnings. They have a different why as to why they even got into business in the first place. Unpacking all of that and understanding what is your unique offering is critical to creating an environment that then reflects that.

Speaker: Now, in the masterclass, I share with you a case study of Hall Chadwick, and we look at how we brought this brand to life in their physical environment, connecting to the hearts of their people by really, truly understanding what was their purpose, [00:08:00] what is their brand, where did they come from, what is their story, and we told that through the physical environment, and I take you through all of the steps and how we did that in the masterclass.

Speaker: So, we really want to be thinking about how do we infuse the Emotion, the heart of your business into your physical environment. We want to be capturing the essence of what it's like to work for you, to do business with you. How do you want people to feel? Because that is it. At the end of the day is when I walk into your space.

Speaker: How do I feel? Does it connect to me? Does it energize me? Do I get an insight into who you are and what kind of business you operate? This is what is important. And so we want to start to think about how do we attract those who believe what we believe? Because that is when we are going to start to build a business that is really connecting to the hearts of our people.

Speaker: Then we start to look at the body. So, If we're talking about the heart as the emotion of a workplace, then the body is the physical embodiment of that. It's the sensory journey that we take people on.

Speaker: It's what we see. It's what we hear. It's what we smell. It's all of those elements that we can engage with. We can tacitly touch and experience through a workplace. And we want to think about it. As I said earlier, are we built for agility and performance? Are we flexible? Are we adaptable? Is it easy for me as a user to reconfigure my space to suit my needs?

Speaker: Am I able to adapt the space to suit what kind [00:10:00] of work style I need or the environment that I'm going to need at a particular time, or is your workplace really rigid and fixed and slow? These things start to actually show up in the way that our businesses then operate. And I've got some beautiful case studies on this, particularly one around Mappian.

Speaker: Mappian were a 35 year old company. They were very traditional in their approach, but by Adapting their workplace to become more agile and adaptable and flexible. Their business mindset also became agile, adaptable, and flexible. And they went on to create a number of mergers in just the 18 months beyond this new workplace, because it had completely changed their mentality about how they physically worked in the space, which then kind of unstuck them from an operational perspective as well.

Speaker: So thinking about what that's looking like in your business. Now, we also know that our workplaces are able to guide our behavior. And so this is behavioral science. It's organizational psychology. When we actually understand what is important to us as an organization, we can then start to articulate, well, what does it look like for our employees to be behaving in a way that aligns with the values and what is important for our business?

Speaker: How do we want them working? How do we want them connecting? How do we want them communicating? All of these things can be guided by actually understanding what it is that you value and what are the behaviors that you want to see in your workplace. Because when we understand that we can then start to create spaces that create subconscious cues for our people to guide them to behave in a way that aligns with this.

Speaker: And we really do this in three ways. The first one is through flow. The second is through zoning and the third is through the spaces themselves. So when we talk about flow, what we're talking about is the sequence of activities, it's the routine, it's the patterns of behavior that we are wanting to embed [00:12:00] into our workplace to encourage people to transition and experience the space in the way that we.

Speaker: Intentionally want them to. So thinking about what is the first point of contact when they come in in the morning? Do we want them diving straight into their work? And therefore we first present them with their workstations? Or do we want them engaging in social connection, building that relationships with their colleagues by, Bringing them into the coffee machine and grabbing a coffee and having those casual interactions, really thinking about what are those touch points?

Speaker: What is the journey that we're taking our people on and how do we want them to experience our space as they transition through it? It's about embedding routine and ritual into that space. Secondly, we think about the spaces themselves. And this is about how we co locate and bring particular spaces together.

Speaker: Do we have spaces where we have all of our noisy, collaborative, robust conversations together? And do we have spaces that support that really quiet introspective, concentrative work that is purely of an individual nature? How are we actually using the flow of our space to create, delineation and separation of these very different types of activities and co locating them so that it's really clear this is the kind of behavior that happens in this part of the office.

Speaker: And this is the type of behavior that happens in this other half of the office. Being really intentional and really clear about that. The other thing that's really important to note here too, is thinking about the ratio of these spaces. What am I communicating by showing people that we have lots and lots of workstations.

Speaker: We've got one collaboration desk over there, and there's really nowhere except an office to go and do our quiet, concentrated work. That kind of messaging is a symbol. Those symbols are communicating to your people that we value you to come here and sit at a workstation and do your work. Now, if you've got values that.

Speaker: Highlight that you want to be collaborative, innovative, [00:14:00] that you want to foster communication, yet that is the setup of your workplace. You are giving your people a very contradictory message because you are telling them by giving them lots of workstations, that communication and collaboration and innovation is not a value here because we're not supporting them to be able to engage in the type of activities that they need to.

Speaker: By using the type of space that they need to be able to use. So thinking about what are the symbols, and we spoke about this in last week's episode with Meredith Wilson, we talked about what are the symbols, how are we communicating? What are we showing people is important by the way that we set our workplaces up.

Speaker: So that's how we look and think about our body of our workplace. The next one, and the final one is the mind. How do we connect the minds of our people in our workplaces? And when we think about it, our mind is really the technology that makes it all possible. It's how we plug ourselves in. It's how we connect into the culture of our organization.

Speaker: It's how we plug the culture into our physical environment. And a lot of Technology is really there to simplify our lives. It's to support them in becoming easier to reduce the amount of friction that exists in our interaction. So if you think about the types of work that you use your technology for, and the way that systemization and automation have, Reduce the amount of steps that you need to do.

Speaker: It is about simplifying the process. We only have to look at chat GPT and AI here and think about how it is actually alleviating the workload that we need to be doing to make our lives simpler. and also to reduce that friction. Now, if we think about this in a cognitive terms, when we have a process of work to do each step in the process is effectively creating an open loop in our brain.

Speaker: And this is contributing to [00:16:00] our cognitive load. So the more that we can embrace automation means that there are less steps for us to have to think about because the automation is taking care of them, which means that we're closing out different loops in our brain, which means we're reducing our cognitive load.

Speaker: And when we can reduce our cognitive load, that frees our brain capacity up to be able to engage in other more exciting, innovative, creative tasks, which embody a state of flow. And when we get into a state of flow, we're effectively building new neural pathways because we're allowing our mind to wander.

Speaker: We're immersed in our work and we're making ourselves smarter. So embracing technology in your workplace is going to be one key factor in enabling you to Reduce that cognitive load and really connect to the minds of your people. The other thing that we're doing with our technology is we are using it to provide us with a feedback loop.

Speaker: How can we create more effective workplaces that support our people to be as productive as possible so that they actually experience work in a more joyful state because they're not. and competing with their technology, that it's giving us feedback on how our people are actually utilizing our space so that we can then optimize our real estate costs and create more environments of the types of spaces that people want to use.

Speaker: These are all ways that we can start to utilize. Feedback and data that we can be collecting from within our workplaces to continue to create places that people want to be because they are supporting them in doing their work effectively, productively, and joyfully. So they are three ways that we can start to use our.

Speaker: Place our work environment to connect to the hearts, the bodies, and the minds of our people. Now, as I said, this is just the cliff notes from the masterclass that I ran recently called the secret to creating a dynamic workplace. In that masterclass, [00:18:00] I take you far deeper. I give you case studies. I share with you insights into research that you can then start to leverage in your own workplace.

Speaker: I show with you how. Data and technology can start to actually unlock those opportunities in your workplace and what the value of actually investing in that is going to be in terms of the feedback that you're going to get and the opportunity that you are going to then unlock within your workplace. So if you're interested in watching the full masterclass, head down to the show notes and click the link there, and you'll be able to go through and access that one.

Speaker: But that's it for me again, this week, I'm going to be back again next week with a. Fabulous guest. I am super excited about this one. It is with the wonderful Dr. Sharon Parker. She is a professor at the Transformity Work Institute at Curtin University. And we are going to have one incredible conversation.

Speaker: So stay tuned for that one. Come back next week when that one drops, you are going to love what she's got to share about how we can start to create smart work environments that really enhance the performance of our people by making them more. Productive by connecting in with their own sense of autonomy.

Speaker: So tune in next week, but until then have a beautiful week and I look forward to seeing you here again next week.

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