Workplace

The IFMA Foundation Workplace Strategy Summit will convene in just two weeks at Wokefield Park, just north of London (8-10 June). There are still seats available, and you really don’t want to miss this very special event. Attendance is limited to 160 of the smartest, best-informed workplace experts in the world (including you, if you register now).

Our official host is Alexi Marmot, Director of AMA – Alexi Marmot Associates Ltd., and Professor of Facility and Environmental Management at University College London.

Professor Frank Becker of Cornell University was our host at the first Workplace Strategy Summit, held in September 2012. Listen to him explain why he thinks the 2014 Summit will be even more enlightening and provocative:

It’s not too late to join me, Frank Becker, Alexi Marmot, Frank Duffy, and 160 other thought leaders and experienced practitioners from all over the world. Click here to read more about the Summit and register to join us for two days of energizing conversation and presentations.

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My most recent “Talking About Tomorrow” hosted conversation was deep into a fascinating discussion about the “consumerization” of the workplace, when one of the participants commented “I think the smartphone has had a bigger impact on the workplace than the laptop ever did.”

Really? Hasn’t the laptop practically replaced the standard desktop computer, reduced space requirements, cut costs, and enabled millions of workers to work almost anywhere? How could a mobile phone even dream of having as dramatic an impact on the way we work?

Stay with me for a moment.

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Last week I described how in 2001 Joe Hagan, the Chief Executive Officer of National Equity Fund (NEF) led a highly strategic workplace redesign and relocation project that had a major impact on the company’s culture and economic survival  (see “The Workplace IS Strategic: Take it from a CEO“).

Now, in 2014, NEF is getting ready to move once again. Why? The office still looks very much like it did in 2001, and the staff still likes working there. The company continues to be an industry leader; it’s not in need of a dramatic turnaround.

But – and this is both obvious and critical – much has changed over the last decade. The last five years have been a very tough time in the financial services sector. The “Great Depression” and the housing debacle have put incredible economic pressure on NEF and its competitors (to say nothing of publicly funded housing).

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Picture this: On the first day that a Chicago-based financial services company moved into a new – and dramatically redesigned – workplace, two employees bumped into each other in the hallway. One said to the other, “Who are you? Why are you walking around our office?” The other replied, “I work here – I’ve worked here for several years.”

They had never seen each other before, even though the company’s headquarters office is home to only about 115 employees.

Today that company – National Equity Fund (NEF), a nonprofit financial services organization that constructs deals to fund affordable housing projects across the United States – is an industry leader that enjoys low staff turnover, high productivity, and a reputation as a high-energy, compelling place to work. It’s characterized by open collaboration and a free-flowing, can-do culture.

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What’s the Common Good?

April 14, 2014

Several hundred years ago most villages had at their center a “commons” – an area of public land that served not only as a meeting place (the “public square”) but usually also as grazing land for the villagers’ cows, sheep, and other animals. It was a shared space that offered food and protection for individuals who were members of the community. Ownership of the Commons was shared by everyone who lived in the village.

Now it’s April 15: here in the United States it is tax day – the day many of us mail our checks, at the last minute, to the Internal Revenue Service. And while it always hurts to pay taxes, I view them as our investment in society as a whole – our “dues” for having a healthy, safe environment to live and work in, and for having an infrastructure that provides us with those things (schools, roads, national defense, and so on) we cannot build by ourselves.

Our federal and local governments are the means by which we design, build, and manage our modern-day Commons. All of which makes me think about what kinds of corporate infrastructures are needed today, and where the boundaries lie between public and private support capabilities.

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Three Special Events

April 14, 2014

There are three important professional events coming up over the next couple of months that you should seriously consider attending. Here’s a quick overview of each of them, with links to where you can find more information and register to attend them.

WorkTech14 – New York City (May 15)

This one-day event sponsored by Unwired is one of about 20 similar gatherings that will take place in major cities all over the world in 2014. Spend the day hearing the latest stories and case studies focused on the intersection of workplace and technology.

Subscribers to The Future of Work Agenda and readers of this blog can get a significant discount to this event by registering using the following link:

http://shop.instant-shop.com/UNWIREDNewYork/category390901.html

Positive Business Conference – Ann Arbor, Michigan (May 15-17)

This is the first national conference being sponsored by the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan. It will be followed by an informal half-day gathering on May 17 by many of the active champions collaborating to create the Great Work Cultures movement (I am one of the co-founders of Great Work Cultures).

This is a marvelous opportunity to learn more about how organizational cultures and management practice are evolving away from “Command and Control” and towards “Respect and Empower.” Please review the two events at this link, and join us in Ann Arbor May 15-17.

Immediately following the Positive Business Conference, a group of champions, instigators, rabble-rousers, and work revolutionaries (the Great Work Cultures gang) will be gathering to discuss — and take action on — one straightforward question: Where do we go from here? Click here for more information about this free, post-conference open space event.

Workplace Strategy Summit – Wokefield Park, United Kingdom (June 8-10)

On June 8-10 of this year, University College London will host a gathering of the leading thinkers in workplace strategy.

Building on the success of the first Workplace Strategy Summit held at Cornell University, the 2014 summit will feature leading academics and experts in the fields of facility management and real estate speaking about the most innovative concepts to emerge in workplace strategy. Attendees will not only hear from these global innovators, but also be able to engage with the presenters and other attendees from all over the globe in round-table discussions on a range of issues related to work and workplace in the 21st century.

Meet with the best and the brightest FM professionals from Europe and the United States to review the “state of the art” of workplace strategy and help chart the course for future research about the business impact of workplace design. Sponsored by the IFMA Foundation and University College London.

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We are able to offer Future of Work…unlimited members a special rate to attend Worktech14 on May 14-15 this year.

The program overview is online at this link:  www.unwired.eu.com/newyork

To receive the Future of Work…unlimited discount, use this link to register for the one-day event:

http://shop.instant-shop.com/UNWIREDNewYork/category390901.html [click to continue…]

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This article continues the conversation that began with the first “Wellness and Wellbeing” note in late February and continued with “Wellness and Wellbeing-Part Two” last week.

Here we focus on some differences between the United States and Europe in dealing with wellness and wellbeing. If you have not read the first two parts of this series I encourage you to click on the links above and spend a few minutes catching up with the beginning of this conversation (which took place on February 6, 2014) as part of my monthly “Talking About Tomorrow” series.

Erik Jaspers [Planon]: First, I must say I was a little surprised about the short conversation about Medicare and putting that in the perspective of wellness and wellbeing. I’m from Europe, and we don’t have this conversation, and certainly not in that context.

I have a question because I’m a newcomer in this area. How would you go about measuring results or determining the effectiveness of what you’ve been trying to achieve in these types of projects? How do you measure wellness in the larger context of an organization? [click to continue…]

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This post continues the conversation that began with the “Wellness and Wellbeing” note last week. If you haven’t yet read that post, I suggest you click on the link and read it now, before proceeding with this one.

Here we pick up with Kate Lister’s overview of the biggest issues surrounding wellness and wellbeing in the workplace.

Kate Lister [Global Workplace Analytics]:

As I suggested earlier, there are two sides of this issue: the physical and the psychological. Not surprisingly, the organizations that are focusing most on wellness are those in the healthcare business.

The cost of absenteeism goes far beyond the direct costs which are estimated at about 6% of payroll. But when you consider the indirect costs, including insurance, the total is more like 20% of payroll.

On the psychological side, there are a variety of problems that impact employee performance such as addiction, depression, stress, and the like. And poor mental health often leads to poor physical health and vice-versa.

Then there’s the problem of “presenteeism,” where people come to work sick because they don’t et paid for sick days, they feel guilty about letting their co-workers down, or there’s simply a culture that frowns on taking time off, regardless of the reason. So what do they do? They come to work sick. They sit at their desk not getting much done. And they go home at the end of the having spread their germ among their colleagues.

Healthways recently did a wellness study for a Fortune 500 company. When they asked employees if they’d lost productivity due to working while they were sick, 86% said “yes.” The study also showed that people with wellness issues are less productive and more likely to leave.

The study reported that for each $1 of medical costs, the company lost another $2.30 because of reduced productivity. [click to continue…]

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This article marks the beginning of a slight change in my Future of Work Agenda newsletter publishing plans. Some time ago I simplified the newsletter format, sharing a single thought piece with you about once a month. Now I am committing to a more frequent schedule, with the goal of condensing my rants and ramblings to an even shorter format (and I have also integrated the newsletter more tightly with the blog).

What follows here is the first post of a three-part series on Wellness and Wellbeing in the Workplace. Look for Part Two a week from now.

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As some of you know, I host a monthly “Talking About Tomorrow” conversation with about twenty very smart thought leaders and practitioners. We have common interests in the changing nature of work, the workforce, and the workplace – and how to manage the future of work. We exchange ideas, concerns, and visions of the future as a way of keeping all of us sharp and well-informed.

Recently we spent an hour together (virtually, of course) exploring wellness and well-being in the workplace. It’s a topic that is getting a lot of well-deserved attention in many places these days. There’s no way I can adequately summarize the totality of that conversation, but I’d like to share some of the highlights here.

Thus, this is the first of several “chapters” in that particular conversation. What follows is an edited synopsis of what I found to be the most interesting comments and questions raised by several of the group members (all of those quoted here have granted me permission to share their contributions to the conversation). [click to continue…]

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