Friday, 17 April 2015

#SWDS15 Workplace Design at Swisscom (etc)




Sorry for the delay but here are my additional notes from Fleming's Workplace Design summit.


I’ve already taken you through my panel on HR and workplace design, and shared workplace design case studies from Google, eBay and Airbnb.

We also heard other interesting ideas from Tim Yendell at RBS, Carole Hop at NN (ING) and Henrik Lovgret at Maersk but for me, these missed the emotional aspect of Google, eBay and Airbnb’s case study.

There was some talk about whether it would be possible to extend these latest approaches to a more traditional and particularly large organisation ie whether they would be scaleable.  So my favourite case study of all came from Swisscom, because they showed that you can build a really compelling, human centred workplace design too.  You'd be surprised if Google, eBay and Airbnb didn't have a funky workspace but Swisscom is a traditional business with 20,000 employees.  Their approach is being led by a couple of mavericks but they're involving the main Facilities department too so there is an element of scalability in their approach as well.


Christina Taylor, Head of Human Centred Design,
Karin Hilzinger, Head of Work & Space
Swisscom, Switzerland

Swisscom’s approach to workplace design has emerged out of its experience centred strategy for customers.  Space communicates the company culture so they need a similar employee centred strategy for the workplace.

This focus underpins everything they do and their advice never to forget the why - so whether the need is to improve decision making or project management etc, workplace design is about making tomorrow's work culture visible today.  Which means it has to be about doing something different - rethink, don't repeat!

Christina and Karin introduced us to their:
  • Brain Gym - designed to change the way we interact and learn.  The area included lots of different environments and most interestingly, a 'carpet by numbers' - a picture of an Alpine scene which had been pixelated and then made into carpet squares providing a modernistic representation of the local scenery.



  • Red Room - designed to change the way we make decisions.  This included a hemispherical seating area in the bottom left of the picture, an outside area in which people could observe activity in that zone (or people working in it could close the blinds to keep things confidential) and a more traditional brainstorming area in the bottom right (and at the top of the post.)


  • Project Gym - designed to change the way we work - involving separate areas for silent work, formal and informal desk work, meetings, strategy / decision making, team collaboration and prototyping.  Some of these areas were also divided off, some of them by using what seemed to be cheap if pretty shower curtains.

The reason for this was that, like most big companies, Swisscom are operating under significant financial constraints as well.  Airbnb design and source custom furniture locally and find they can do this at half the price of Herman Miller.  Swisscom extend this much further, engaging in ‘furniture hacking’ - finding ways of make or buy resources on the cheap eg desks previously used by the German army and bought on eBay.

I thought it might also be worth noting some of the other things Swisscom are doing in relation to some of the other key aspects we covered and in particular sound and vision.  Airbnb also talked about this with their strategy of visual transparency and aural translucency - preserving visual access to the space as a whole whilst providing a myriad of opportunities to find acoustic privacy away from ambient noise.  But again I thought Swisscom had the most creative approaches.


Acoustics

Acoustics is again, a human not a buildings issue.  Noise is unwanted sound - i.e. sound level accounts for only 25% of the variance in the way noise is perceived by people.  50% is down to psychological factors.  This depends upon the task and work activity; our perceived control; the context and difficulty of the job; and our personality type (introverts will want less sound than extroverts.)

Dealing with this is about understanding the propagation, reverberance, clarity and sound level of the noise, and the way noise is transmitted, absorped, reflected and diffused.  Airbnb talked about using 2” cotton soft walls - sonically moderated, not dead sound.  There were a couple of examples of couple of examples use of book cases.  Swisscom used toilet rolls and 20 thousand tennis balls (good acoustics but a terrible smell.)


Lighting & Vistas

Light meets functional, biological and emotional needs.

We find the evening sun relaxing, the morning sun makes us energetic and sun shining through trees is pleasant and pleasing.  Dim warm light makes us more likely to solve conflict through collaboration rather than avoidance.  Philips have used these factors to create different human centric lighting scripts changing the light level and spectrum for collaboration and communication, inspiration and creativity.  They can also be used to regulate the body clock.

Airbnb also talked about this in terms of having a call centre in Portland with a light and dark side so they accentuated the differences between the two with the light side becoming more conversational and the darker side more for focused work.

Swisscom had designed a quiet room but people were using it for meetings so they redesigned the space, making it more like a library with old fashioned, dim lamps and it then became a quiet space.

If there aren't any windows you can display a light effect on a panel.  It can also help you see the office in a whole new light - walls and ceiling made out of light to make rooms feel bigger, materials providing light to make it feel like the sun is shining on you or integrated into materials eg the flooring to direct people in a pleasant way.  Other uses include transparent glass which can double as translucent panels to provide flexible partitions or provide interesting views which are dynamic and change over time.  Light can also simulate natural effects eg clouds drifting by above you.

Light is also data and is becoming part of the Internet of things or the Internet of spaces.  For example you can have an app which uses an unique code transmitted by white light to control the lighting around you and make it more relevant for different contexts.  It can also connect with the blind systems to provide an appropriate mix of natural or artificial light.

So light can do a lot but you still need to provide appropriate space.  People like nice wide vistas (Nigel Osland didn't mention it but aren't we supposed to like a view over open water too?)  We don't like people looking over us so we prefer to sit with our backs to the wall (as I had chosen to do during the conference.)  Google, eBay, Airbnb and Swisscom all demonstrated an absence of traditional cubicles, and more natural views and spaces.

Nigel also talked about biophelia.  We need access to nature, and views out to nature.  So Google outdoor space and letting natural daylight into the office.  If there's no possibility of live plants you can use plastic ones instead


Changing the system

I think all the case studies were based upon working with people to help them design their environments.  Airbnb went round Portland with their employees to draw inspiration from the city and also observed what they were doing.  Google spent a week observing people in the workplace and recommends everyone finds an interesting space to sit in for half a day to observe why people drink coffee, why they're not using the expensive coffee machine etc - sit and be surprised!  Swisscom suggested we take a look at the toilets.


Conclusions

So another great event from Fleming Europe - but more HR people need to go along next year.

If you're in HR you will benefit from it, and we can also start to develop the more collaborative approach I referred to in first post!



Photo credit (carpet by numbers): Andy Swann


  • Consulting   Research  Speaking  Training  Writing
  • Strategy  - Talent - Engagement  - Change and OD 
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com


Thursday, 2 April 2015

Developing human capital in Saudi Arabia




You know that a lot of my focus goes into helping develop organisations develop their human capital.

Well out in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where I was presenting on personalised learning at the ATD MENA conference, there was also lots of focus on helping the country develop their human capital.

So when I was given the chance to present an additional session I leapt at it, and tailored an existing presentation to the needs of developing organisational human capital for the benefit of national human capital too.

I've written all about this at the ATD's Global Human Capital community blog - take a look here.

And if you'd like, you can check out my slides from the conference too:

  • Consulting   Research  Speaking  Training  Writing
  • Strategy  - Talent - Engagement  - Change and OD 
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com

So why ask about salary if candidates will exaggerate it?




I'm quoted in this article in the Mirror, and elsewhere, commenting on Glassdoor's latest survey about salaries, finding that one in five candidates would lie about their current salaries.

“Inflating your existing salary when speaking to new employers is not a strategy I would recommend. There are far more effective ways to negotiate a higher salary when you are applying for a new job – the secret is to do your homework and then not be afraid to ask.” 

“Most employers do not intentionally try to scrimp on salary offers, but they will usually start with an amount that is lower than what they are willing to pay, based on the assumption the candidate will try to negotiate upwards. This ‘buffer’ ensures the employer is not paying a disproportionately higher salary than they pay existing employees in similar positions. Failure to synchronise salaries across a business for both new and existing candidates can lead to a sea of discontent if employees discuss their pay with colleagues. Use websites like Glassdoor to assess what you should be paid for specific jobs at specific companies so you can use information to power your negotiation.”


These are my top tips for negotiating salary during the recruitment process:

1.       Don’t be afraid to negotiate, employers fully expect you to do this.

2.       Research is key. This will enable you to pitch an appropriate salary range for the job based on your research of similar jobs in the same region and sector.

3.       Be realistic about where you are in your career and what you can achieve – don’t expect to have much negotiating power if you are just a few years into your career.

4.       Make sure you express your interest in the job and the company before you start trying to negotiating a counter offer. Tell the recruiter why you would love to accept the role, how much value you can bring to the organisation and so on.

5.       Negotiating a higher salary can often go backwards and forwards several times. Do not panic if this happens, if often means the employer is trying to meet you halfway.

6.       If securing a specific salary for a new role is a deal breaker, you need to have a clear ‘walk away’ figure in your head.

7.       Practice your negotiation skills with a family member or friend. If your manifesto for a higher salary doesn’t convince your role play partner, it’s unlikely to seal a better deal with your new employer.

8.       Be prepared for "no" as another possibility and prepare in advance as to how you will deal with this.

9.       If you can’t get the salary increased to the level you request, you could ask them to increase other elements of the package such as the bonus for example.

10.    Alternatively, you could agree to review the salary following the successful completion of the probationary period.



Actually, I think the surprise is that not more people would lie.

To me, 'how much fdo you get paid now' is just a stupid question for an employer to ask, basically meaning they haven’t worked out what someone should get paid or if they’ve got the experience they need.

So I think many people would tend to reinterpret it as ‘what do you think we should pay you’ and so of course people increase what they say.  This means that employers end up paying more for better negotiators than for better performers and is probably one of the factors behind the gender pay gap.

It's a draft question.  Don't ask it.  Offer what someone is worth to you and if they need more, talk about how you might increase it later.



You may also be interested in this Glassdoor survey on pay transparency.


  • Consulting   Research  Speaking  Training  Writing
  • Strategy  - Talent - Engagement  - Change and OD 
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com


Thursday, 26 March 2015

Investors in People VI: Outperformance



I posted earlier that I'd previously worked for a Training & Enterprise Council where my role was mainly focused on Investors in People - being an advisor, assessor, internal verifier and centre manager.

After leaving the TEC I became an independent consultant, still working on IIP as well as other HR areas, and doing this for two years before joining EY.  I traded as Strategic Dynamics (a company which I restarted again ten years later, ten years ago, and still work within today.)

As HR Director at EY amongst a variety of other things I led the firm's IIP project.

Then at Penna (previously Crane Davies) I led our support for IIP which involved redeveloping the standard and designing one of the new modules.  We looked at outsourcing workforce development support from some of the Learning & Skills Council offices which had taken over from the TECs and when I left were in the process of setting up a new National IIP Centre.

Last year, I bid to the IIP team now at UKCES, as part of a team from IES, to develop the sixth generation of the IIP standard.  However, although we were interviewed we lost out to PA Consulting.

Still, I know quite a bit about and am a longstanding, fairly loyal supporter the standard and if you're interested, here are my thoughts about Framework VI:




Firstly, the main issue about IIP as a best practice benchmarking tool is to balance something which will stretch leading organisations, eg those that have been accredited for 25 year now, and a large proportion or more average and often smaller companies.  I think the chosen tagline of 'outperformance' is suitably vague enough to achieve both these objectives.  It'll help with the marketing and on this, I'm also glad the team managed to avoid any temptation to call the new generation framework IIP 6.0!




I've not seen all the detail on the standard so I can't comment on how well it models what is important today.  A lot of it is obviously based upon Andre de Waal's ideas about high performing organisations, which I find a bit odd, but probably does give the update a more robust basis than would have been possible to research from scratch within the project budget.




Linked to this is a need to balance being tight enough to be meaningful and useful, and loose enough to be appropriate to a very broad range of organisations and approaches. However the general move within business and society has been towards increased flexibility and the reduction from 28 to 24 to 10 and now to 9 indicators have all been part of this movement.  9 indicators should help organisations work with the standard but may prove to be one step too far?  On the other hand, there are three themes for each indicator (which almost takes us back up to 27 indicators again.)


The integration of bronze, silver and gold level into the main standard to form a maturity model is a bit more of a worry.  I'm not actually a fan of maturity models in any context but particularly in one like this seems to be to impose quite a bit of potentially unhelpful structure.  Do leaders really need to be passionate about delivering the organisation’s objectives and motivating people to deliver against them (stage 3 - advanced) before they can motivate and inspire people to achieve results above and beyond what is expected of them (stage 4 - high performing)?  I'm not sure.  However this probably does help the standard meet the need to support both high and lower levels of outperformance which I noted above.




Linked to the above point on flexibility, I think it's good that IIP is continuing to present itself as a flexible tool where "it’s important to conduct the assessment your way.  With online, offline and options that integrate with your existing staff survey: it’s simpler than you think to start measuring the impact of your investment in people... and achieving Investors in People."  That's a lot better than all the palaver which existed when I worked for the TEC.



It's a big change in the standard and only time will tell how well it takes on.  But this change is probably less risk than no change at all, and even if framework VI doesn't take organisations in quite the direction I'd have pointed them in, I'm sure it'll be close.  More organisations need to start and continue on this journey.  I hope the new framework helps.

  • Consulting   Research  Speaking  Training  Writing
  • Strategy  - Talent - Engagement  - Change and OD
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com


#AHRINC Speaking in Melbourne on the New HR




I'll be speaking on the New HR at the Australian Human Resource Institute (AHRI)'s National Convention on 27th August.

I'm on with Ram Charan and Dave Ulrich so it should be a good, lively event!

By the way, if you've not seen any of my earlier posts on the New HR, I'm defining this as managing groups of people not just single individuals.  Old HR was managing employees, New HR is managing communities.  So New HR focuses on social capital rather than human capital.  And it redefines the title of our profession, HR, as a focus on Human Relationships.

This seems to come up all the time these days.  For example, Dave has just suggested the future HR operating model is about relationships.  I agree, but think the most important relationships aren't those between HR and the rest of the organisation but between everyone working in the organisation.  We all need love maps!

Or what about the various conversations about performance management?  Much of this is about the need to focus on the role of teams.  For example at HR Tech Europe yesterday it was suggested that performance ratings be replaced by reputational status within an organisation.

Or take reward.  The CIPD have now suggested most of what we do in reward is a waste of time, and of course, money.  Why? - well as I was tweeting with Charles Cotton, the CIPD's Head of Reward yesterday, it's because we try to pay individuals for performance when the basis for this performance is collective effort.

We need to move on...

  • Consulting   Research  Speaking  Training  Writing
  • Strategy  - Talent - Engagement  - Change and OD
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com


Marcus Evans Talent Capability and Performance Development




I'll be running this training session on talent management in Kuala Lumpur on 1st and 2nd June:
It is the people identified as talent who are going to drive their organisations through the current difficulties and beyond. But many of them may not be planning to stay! So how do you retain this critical resource?
Generating superior business performance in difficult times calls for innovated and integrated approaches to talent management (for example, actions to develop talent need to be supported by strategies to reward and engage, so that those we have invested in will stay.) Attend this workshop to learn how to redesign and update talent management for today's context and your organisation s specific challenges and opportunities.
Learn how talent can be developed in a way that helps drive the success of your HR strategy and organisation. In addition to the interactive learning modules, this event will also be showcasing case studies and up-to-date thinking from around the world.

Come along if you can or let me know if you just want to meet up.

  • Consulting   Research  Speaking  Training  Writing
  • Strategy  - Talent - Engagement  - Change and OD 
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com

Employment, Skills and Energy




I've just started blogging for the UK's Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) which I'm thrilled to do, particularly as one of my former roles was with a Training & Enterprise Council - one of the bodies involved in an earlier attempt at stimulating skills development, employment and productivity.

My first post for UKCES developed out of another former role as a chemical engineer and concerns employment and skills in the Energy sector: "Energy and Purpose - how skills keep our lights on."

The report suggests that the supply of talent isn't keeping up with demand, with the resulting gap being made worse by an ageing workforce; lack of young and female entrants; and the challenge of new skills.  But there is also the changing nature of the Energy workforce which is becoming increasingly mobile and more contract based meaning that it often receives less long-term investment than it needs.

We therefore need some innovative and ideally collaborative approaches.  I particularly liked the strategies included in the report of targeting areas of high unemployment and either relocating to these areas or providing packages for people to work away from home, and also of transferring skills from older to younger, entry level employees.

But I think we also need Energy firms to provide a compelling career for the people they need to recruit.  Doing this rests upon companies being really clear about what roles and skills are going to be most vital to their future and using this clarity to drive workforce and succession planning to develop a good understanding of potential gaps between supply and demand for talent.  This planning then needs to be followed by whatever actions are required to give people the skills and roles they need to take advantage of opportunities within the sector.  This might include, for example, offering opportunities to work abroad which fit an employees’ personal needs rather than finding that they leave to move overseas of their own accord, or requiring people to move abroad solely in response to business needs - which often results in these employees leaving a firm and potentially the sector.

I make a few other suggestions for improvement in the blog and there are plenty of recommendations in the report.  Take a look...

  • Consulting   Research  Speaking  Training  Writing
  • Strategy  - Talent - Engagement  - Change and OD
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com



Wednesday, 25 March 2015

#SWDS15 - Workplace Design at Google, Ebay and Airbnb



(the solar eclipse in Amsterdam - apparently)


I’ve already posted on the HR experts panel at Fleming’s Smart Workspaces Summit - now for a review of some of the other sessions and my main learnings.

I see strategic HCM as a very human centric way of doing HR and have been posting recently on human centric approaches to engagement and learning.  So you won’t be surprised to hear that I was particularly drawn towards Nigel Oseland’s inputs on Human Centred Design.

We started this session with Tim Oldman’s findings for the Leesman Index that only 53% of employees say their workplaces help them be more productive.

Dealing with this requires that we design for a human scale - not cramming too many people in on small desks.  And that we design for the issues I discussed in my last post (collaboration and creativity etc), not for cost!  We also need to provide variety and flexibility for all individuals.

But we also need to accomodate individual needs and psychological factors.  We select different personality types and then bung people together in the same workplace.  But people are different.  Extroverts prefer breakouts, bars and huddles.  Neurotics prefer quiet and private meeting rooms.  Open minded prefer 1:1 and huddles.  And both open and extroverts dislike formal meeting rooms.

We design for the 'extrovert ideal' and ignore the introverts, which is particularly stupid as the extroverts are always out of the office.

It's why I thought Jacqui Grey's session on neuroscience was such an excellent start to the conference - although Jacqui felt that fixed / growth mindsets is a bigger issue for workforce transformation than Nigel's introvert / extrovert point.


Frans Van Eersel, Facilities Manager, Benelux and Poland, Google, Netherlands

I don’t know if Nigel was thinking about Google but they certainly have a very stimulating environment, even in the Netherlands.

At Google, workplace design is about providing Googlers with a happy, healthy and high performing environment.  This is largely about providing choice and accessibility but everyone has their own workspace - there's no hoteling.  People (Frans actually called them users) can personalise their workspaces to provide a sense of belonging eg teams put up flags of their home countries.

Google also try to reduce friction, so for example they providing a tech shop in case people have forgotten a charger etc,

And there’s a big focus on health and wellbeing - allowing for rejuvenation and relaxation spaces, encouraging movement and healthy eating, providing ergonomic setup and focusing on indoor environmental quality (IEQ) - air, noise, daylight etc.  For example there’s a healthy materials programme trying to avoid paints full of toxins etc and limiting the sorts of irritations and allergies and don’t really know where they come from.

Healthy food is provided almost 24/7 - not so much to attract talent but because they wanted their engineers to live healthier rather than having pizzas in the basement.  And because good food stimulates creativity and innovation and also when they sit on long tables they will interact with others, perhaps the CEO or other teams.

There are also nap pods for people to take a quick ten minutes after lunch.  Rejuvenation is also supported by an extensive massage programme and fitness centres.

There are different spaces for people to get their heads down or get into huddles.  And other spaces support quiet work.

Of course workplace design shouldn’t be limited to office workers and one of the things I really liked about Google’s presentation was that it showed how their approach is applied to the types of Googlers wearing labcoats too.



Derrick Bock, Head of Workplace Design, eBay, Germany

My favourite session on differentiated spaces was from eBay who talked about their identification of Base, Creativity, Recovery, Focus, Social Networking and Formal Presentation spaces:
  • Base is a place to call home, not necessarily a desk and could be as simple as a locker. 
  • Creativity is where people can contextualize problems and expand their thinking.
  • Recovery requires a quiet, low-light area where people can close their eyes in comfort for 5- 15 minutes without anxiety.
  • Focus ranges from small booths where people can absorb themselves in focused work, to a stimulating space where they can research and learn.
  • Social networking is where people can gather to hold informal meetings and exchange ideas in a relaxed state.
  • And there’s formal presentation which is the familiar space for hosting formally chaired meetings.

People can use the spaces flexible depending upon their needs and to support wellbeing - we have an energy curve that runs throughout the day – different spaces encourage us to maximize our natural energy cycle.




Spaces are also arranged around people into working networks - as a home area, a neighbourhood, and a community:
  • myHome is a personal space, a desk, a seat, ... any place for a person to work anywhere in their department. This working network is on a team scale.
  • myNeighbourhood is a shared space between adjoining departments where resources are pooled. This working network is on an inter-departmental scale. 
  • myCommunity is the shared resources in a building which all departments use. This working network is on a company scale.


Google provide functional spaces arranged into neighbourhoods  with 'magnets' nearby - micro kitchens to stimulate chance conversations.  It also promotes activity by making people walk to recycling stations.

eBay organise their neighbourhoods withn a grid giving everyone a pace of 1600x1700mm for their home spaces.  There are spaces between the neighbourhoods filled by other activities or destinations (like Google’s magnets.)  And they try to create distinct styles within the neighbourhoods so it's like I'm going somewhere when I come to you.


Mark Levy, Global Head of Employee Experience,
Aaron Harvey, Environments Design Lead,
Airbnb, US

Airbnb provided more detail about how they design in these types of spaces without resorting to the now traditional open plan space of cubicles and hoteling which create so much unhappiness around the world, and creating privacy without diminishing visibility:
  • Belong Everywhere .  This is shared space (not anonymous space) and consists of a mixture of individual, team and social space.  The approach emphasises free desking to connect people to a variety of spaces across the office so belonging is not associated with a single desk. 
  • High contrast spaces depending on needs eg on-demand / quick-access quiet spaces and noisier collaboration spaces allowing individuals to choose a location based on their current needs. 
  • Team hubs acting as shared resources for teams and being flanked by communal tables and lounge seating. These spaces are the default area for team leads and others who l to stick close, team leads etc. 
  • Duck-in spaces for one, two or three people providing acoustic privacy. 



Workplace mobility is supported by the digital workflow and storage solutions for tools and personal belongings.  Eg power and data is distributed throughout so a lounge chair is just as much a work space as the communal table.

I particularly liked Airbnb’s landing / standing desks providing a standing workspace plus room to charge a macbook and store coats and shoes / work slippers to get changed into after cycling into work. 





Mark and Aaron talked about research in ergonomics challenging the traditional desk.  Desks and their accompanying file cabinets were a 19th century solution to the sudden influx of paper brought about by the industrial revolution and allowed people to sort, mark and file this paper.  But paper is not less and less relevant to most work and the desk has become an island of personalisation in otherwise immutable office landscape eg a surface for knick knacks.  There must be better days of building identification at work.  However this is a disruptive concept.  People need to feel they’re getting something much better in return for losing a desk whether this is standing or lying down.

We also talked a lot about the benefits and standing vs sitting and hopefully there’ll be more options for attendees to stand vs sit during the conference next year…




(Picture credit Andy Swann)


More later.


  • Consulting   Research  Speaking  Training  Writing
  • Strategy  - Talent - Engagement  - Change and OD
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com


Friday, 20 March 2015

#SWDS15 HR and Workplace Design





I've been at Fleming Europe's Smart Workspace Design Summit for the last two days.

Although this is billed as an HR conference there's a major lack of HR people here, compared to Corporate Real Estate / Facilities Management.  (Don't get me wrong, the conference was well attended, just not by the people I think needed to be there!)

It's something I focused on in the panel I moderated.

Firstly we ran a poll on the objectives attendees had for their workplace design projects.  I missed the percentage responses, but the order for the top four needs (which note didn't include cost) were:



(picture credit Petronela Zainuddin)


I asked about this because I wanted to point out how core HR objectives are to workplace design and employee engagement hit the nail on the head.  If workplace design is about engagement, then it can't be done separately to all the work HR does on this.

However given that there were so few HR people in the room (and apart from me and Deloitte, a lack of HR experts who were supposed to be on the panel - see the outline from the conference agenda above) I also asked about to what extent HR were involved in attendees' workplace design projects.  51% suggested HR had a minor role, with fewer saying HR acts in partnership and hardly anyone responding that HR has a leadership role.

We came back to this point later on as well with RBS' Head of  Choice and Design suggesting that HR has lost its leadership role because it's not taking a role in this agenda.

We did discuss some good examples of good HR and CRE/FM collaboration throughout the conference too.  For example:
  • Karel Massop, Human Capital Director for Deloitte, Netherlands said Workplace Design work very closely with HR by focusing clearly on outcomes like engagement
  • Nelson Morales suggested GSK got HR on board with their move to the Navy Yard by emphasising the hard financial requirements (the tax issues) as well as the soft intangible stuff
  • Hendrik Grempe, Head of Property for Vodafone, Germany reports into HR (they also piloted their workplace changes in HR as 'if it works there it will work anywhere')
  • eBay Workplace Design worked with HR to look at better feed options to lift employees up the energy curve.



I got asked several times during the event about HR's role in workplace design, and came up with the following suggestions:
  • Identifying the required outcomes and behaviours (selecting from or adding to the list I provided above.)  Both HR and Workplace Design benefit from a clear focus on objectives and the most useful objectives are the human, organisation and social capital required by the business.  HR doesn't need to undertake all of the actions required to create these outcomes but given that they are about our employees, I do believe it should be HR that articulates them.
  • Ensuring that the workplace is designed in conjunction with the rest of the organisation - see my recent post on organisation models.  Workplace design won't work unless it's supported by organisation structures, working styles etc, and in particular focuses on the needs and aspirations of the employees.  And the rest of the organisation design won't work unless the workplace design supports it.
  • Conducting integrated workforce analytics.  Decisions about the workplace and workforce need to be taken together.  We saw that a lot of workplace decisions are driven, or are at least modified, by cost.  But is there any point reducing office costs by giving everyone stroller they can push around if that means you need to increase their pay 20% to recruit and retain them?  One Facilities Manager told me large companies in Germany need to pay 30% more (I'm not aware that this is an HR benchmark) to cover the additional inhumanity of working for a large organisation - dreadful!
  • Managing or participating in the changes involved in moving people into a new workplace.  This can be a huge wrench and quite a few people talked about making people cry when told to ditch their personal belongings and the comfort of their walls. HR needs to be involved in helping with this transition.



Also, particularly for collaboration (third in my list of objectives), you're going to need a collaborative approach to workplace design.  You're not going to achieve that objective if HR, CRE/FM and IT can't even collaborate over the design of the workplace!



And one more point as well - we talked a lot about human centric design ensure a truly people focused approach but speakers still talked about users (even Google) and even worse, desks.  Employee isn't a great term but it's much better than seen as a desk!  Involving HR will ensure whenever forget people are people (as long as they've not been drinking the 'business person first' kool-aid of course!)


The other reason for suggesting this integration is that not all CRE/FM professions are as with it as the ones in the room.  If they're not th en HR should be leading the human centric workplace design agenda that speakers were talking about here - ensuring that people not property are placed at the centre of workplace design.




More about the conference in my next post.

  • Consulting   Research  Speaking  Training  Writing
  • Strategy  - Talent - Engagement  - Change and OD
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com