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EFWEEK2020: Uninterrupted Productivity

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Welcome to another episode of Coworking Values Podcast! And we’re still featuring one of the events in the recently concluded EFWEEK! 

Here’s the audio recording of Uninterrupted Productivity with Karen Bamford, product manager of LiFi at Signify and David O’Coimin of Nook Wellness Pods.

Join the discussion with Karen Bamford from Signify and David O’Coimin from Nook Wellness Pods as they share insights gained in their own research and workflows as well as techniques they have learned along the way while developing their own careers and products.” 

Links

Karen Bamford

David O’Coimin

Signify

Nook Wellness Pods

Event Page

 

powered by Sounder

Zeljko Crnjaković  0:03  

This episode is brought to you by Cobot, a leading management software for coworking spaces, office hubs, and flexible workspaces around the world. You know, one of the best things about Cobot is that it is produced by people who manage a coworking space and know the ins and outs of the main problems and issues, bugging coworking managers. So, if you want more time for your co-workers and community, check out Cobot at cobot.me and take your coworking management to the next level.

 

Bernie J Mitchel  0:37  

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the uninterrupted productivity, live stream or if you’re listening on the podcast, podcast now. I am in sunny Walthamstow in London in a space called Creative Works and I have Karen and David. Where are you folks at the moment to make it even more exciting? Karen?

 

Karen  1:00  

Well, unfortunately I’m at home because Netherlands is back in the lockdown. So, here I am again.

 

Bernie J Mitchel  1:09  

And David, where are you, sir?

 

David  1:10  

I’m in coworking and I’m in a Nook just like yourself, Bernie. A Nook enabled by life. Totally on brand.

 

Bernie J Mitchel  1:21  

I don’t want to make it sound like the moon landing, but this is the first Li-fi live webinar we’ve done.

 

Karen  1:34  

As far as we know, yes. I’ve never seen it done before. Unfortunately, not me. If we do have glitches, I apologize. I’m back at home and our home product or home Li-fi solution will be out next year. So, we have to make do with Wi-Fi. And we all know how that works.

 

Bernie J Mitchel  1:59  

So, we’re going to set the scene here. The three of us are chatting about productivity, and finding concentration, and just getting stuff done. I was talking to Karen last night and there are a lot of squirrels that occur. A lot of stuff that’s always been around for me, but a lot of stuff that’s come up in the last six or seven months that we’ve been in lockdown is how people are coping and finding somewhere to work. And then there’s the never-ending debate about, is an open plan office good or should we all live in cardboard boxes under the desk and stuff like that. And through the time you guys spend with us today, ladies and gentlemen, we would like to share stories about how we concentrate and then share the recent book recommendations in there, and particularly, how to function in a coworking space. 

Because there are people listening to this who have never been to a coworking space in their lives and they think it’s like an airport lounge with go go dancers, and there are other people that swear by it. And then there’s the whole working from home thing. And personally, I go to a coworking space because if I work at home, I just go insane on my own all day. And it doesn’t work. I need that human interaction. So, there are all those things in the pot there. Before we dive in and take people on this journey, can I allow you to formally introduce yourselves, folks? Because people are seeing David’s Nooks at Coworking Europe and other conferences like that. So, Karen, and then we’ll get to David, who are you? What are you known for and what you like to be known for Karen?

 

Karen  3:48  

Thanks, Bernie. I’m Karen and I work for Signify, a venture. Actually, we’ve just stopped being a venture. And we moved on to being a very small business unit within Signify. We are developing Li-fi, which is data overlaid.  We don’t have lots of competition at the moment. There are other competitors in the market with Li-fi. It’s just starting now. So, for those who haven’t heard of Li-fi before, that’s because it’s only really now starting. I research in terms of understanding what the marketplace needs? How we would make  live Li-fi relevant and working for different segments? We’re very active already in that office segment. And we would love to become a really essential tool in coworking. From the discussions and all the research that we’ve done so far in coworking spaces, we’ve really understood that there is a need there and that Li-fi can really deliver a solution that helps people achieve uninterrupted productivity. That was what we saw. That is what we would like to be known for.

 

Bernie J Mitchel  5:07  

I’m here at the moment that you can see the screen folks, that is how you’re receiving me at the moment.

 

Karen  5:15  

Mine is not plugged in.

 

David  5:17  

I’ll just show it in the ceiling, too. There’s a virtual transmitter in the ceiling.

 

Bernie J Mitchel  5:25  

I’m very excited about this. And it’s very geeky. So, David, the coworking folks here at the moment will know you from sitting in the pods here and stuff like that. But how did it come about?  Did you wake up one day and say, I want to make some pods?

 

David  5:43  

Well, there was an evolution really. They say the mother of invention is necessity, right? or frustration also plays a big part in that too. And I was greatly frustrated by the open office and what it’s done to people’s brands, and in particular, what it’s done to marginalized people’s brands. When I say marginalized, I’m thinking about not just people on the spectrum, that’s really important to us, but also even people that would self-identify as introverts. 

So, while one in eight might be on the spectrum, and not even half of those wouldn’t even know about it. Anything from 50, to even as much as 90% of your organization can self-identify as introvert depending on the type of work that gets done there, right. So, it’s a really big issue, that essentially people like me, extroverts have designed open plan workspaces for people like me, other extroverts, and it’s really bad for productivity. And it’s really bad for our brains, broadly speaking, and I wanted to do something about that. So, our purpose, in a narrow sense with Nook is about evoking positive emotions to help you be more productive and engaging. And our bigger purpose is to move the dial on inclusivity and designing for the extreme in order to benefit the need.

 

Bernie J Mitchel  6:56  

I’m always dying to put you and Bertie from Herman Miller in a lift for 24 hours and see what happens.

 

David  7:03  

God help the lift.

 

Bernie J Mitchel  7:05  

So, when one of the books we talked about was The Choir by Susan Cain. I read that probably when it first came out, actually in 2014. And there’s a bit in there, there’s a professor, and he goes and talks on stage. And then he has to go off stage and hide in the toilet because he’s great. Oh, my God, that’s me. Because I like being around people. And this is okay. So, I’m in a Nook. but if I have to go and meet a load of people, I am exhausted. And that happens in a coworking space as well. Like, I really like being around people. But what have you discovered, as you’ve been Nooking and exploring work environments?

 

David  7:55  

Autistic people call that people call that peopling and sometimes they can just be done with their peopling for the day. And there’s a whole bunch of stuff behind this, which is absolutely flipping fantastically fascinating. And if you get into it, it can really help you if you organize a space, to tune your space to be more mindful, literally, and figuratively speaking about the different types of brains that there are. And so, there’s interesting stuff, like, often people imagine that this spectrum is this straight line. And over here, you have less on the spectrum. And over here, you have more on the spectrum. In actual fact, you see it like a sphere.

If you’ve ever seen sort analytics and sports, different spokes of strengths and weaknesses, and people will have their own individual model about where they sit on that space. And that individualism is really a key component to solving the problem for one size fits nobody. The epidemic of sort of disruption that we have in the workplace. And so, what we’ve learned is that there are more to it than just people with different types of brands. Everybody’s different, both that there are things that you can do, that can help in a really broad way to make an environment more engaging, more like having refuge spaces, sanctuary spaces, thinking about what people need in order to be able to focus and concentrate. And that’s a great thing to realize, okay, this is really complicated. and okay there’s really loads of different brain types, and it is no one size fits all, but there are things you can do to really help.

 

Bernie J Mitchel  9:46  

Karen, I’m dying to ask you this. Your first experience with a Nook was actually in Amsterdam.  It was in a Cardboard Box in good streak. Can you explain about that, and how you first found sanctuary?

 

Karen  10:01  

You’re so right. In terms of, I am an extrovert, too. The open office has only suited me up to a point. When you’re working in central London, you always have a really tiny office with loads of you crammed in. And so, we would all work down this huge desk. So, we really needed to find ways of coping with that. And yes, one huge Cardboard Box arrived one day with a delivery that we managed to keep and sort of shove under a desk, the centre of this, this big island of desks that we have. And it was somewhere that we would creep off when you just needed to get away from everybody, you can get into this lovely, such a nice environment. I would sometimes get in when I just really needed to think. Sometimes you’d just go to think, and you’d just get in there and it was just perfect. 

 

Bernie J Mitchel  11:22  

How do you work nowadays? How do you think you’ve evolved in the last decade of finding concentrations?  I said earlier about the square root and someone will say something, and I’ll be like, oh, I’ll do that. You know, I’ve got to finish and send this email.

 

Karen  11:39  

When I think about interruptions, I think about the people, of course. And the squirrels, yes. For anyone that hasn’t seen the film. That’s just, that was just where I got that from. And I thought, My God, I have so many squirrels, things that I discovered and thought that’s interesting and anything to stop, like if I’m working on something that I really just need to focus on, and sometimes after a while, that’s going to get a bit heavy, I’m so easily distracted. Of course, one of the other interruptions that we probably all have a lot more of these days, working at home is connectivity as well, and just when glitches are happening, that can happen in a call like this, that’s also sort of stopping your flow and interrupting your productivity. 

So, of course, over the years, I had my noise cancelling headphones. It was perfect if I really just wanted to stop other people, the noise or distraction of other people, then this has been perfect. I’m not wanting to wear them all day, of course. But I yeah, that’s something that I will do when I’m working in big, shared spaces. Also, over the years, I can’t remember it, I was trying to remember where I got it from, and I think it was the ‘Now habit’ about blocking out blocks in my agenda just to make sure that I’ve got that time reserved so that other people don’t come in and then take that time for me by reserving time in my agenda to really work on things. And Microsoft has now started doing that for everybody, I’ve noticed that and  I’m like, oh I’m slightly ahead of you.

 

Bernie J Mitchel  13:24  

How do you know that you’re going to work in that hour? Do you like to go to any  mentor and sit down from 11 until 1?

 

Karen  13:37  

Knowing it’s there in my agenda now, I kind of get that sense of peace. And it helps  knowing that okay, I’ve now got this time, and nothing else is going to happen in that time. This is what I have to work on. I find that just knowing that that’s coming up gets you in the right mind for it. If you haven’t reserved that time, then lots of things, the squirrels will keep interrupting you. So, that’s how I do it. And I read The Now Habit by Neil and I just started applying that and it really works.

 

Bernie J Mitchel  14:17  

 Can you see the disco lights happening? She’s changing the lighting mood to suit her equilibrium in the UK at the moment. And then David, how do you plan your week? Do you just let your week happen to you? Or do you happen to your week?

 

David  14:38  

My emo is that I need to leave a lot of time for spontaneity, because it’s how I work best. Planned time is something that I really struggle with. So, I try and make my plans time the morning times. And I leave lots of open space for spontaneity, for reacting to things, for reacting to ideas. One of the things I also do is I try to insist on meetings of no longer than 45 minutes. But also, then absolutely leave those following 15 minutes free. So, I can reflect on the meeting, so I can plan a few things and get them moving. I also need to visually remove stimulants because that’s my squirrel, visual stimulants, what’s happening? Someone over there, I want to talk to them, or I have terrible FOMO. I wish I could get to a JOMO stage with the joy of missing out. But I really struggle with fear of missing out. So, I have to remove those distractions. I created almost an enclosed box for myself in that regard. And I need to turn off notifications. And to that extent, I’ve got a nice example for you, iPhone brought out a new AR OS recently, right, and they made it possible for you to change the icons. 

I’ve managed to satisfy my OCD, and remove distractions in one go by changing my iPhone to have these icons that don’t show up notifications. So, I can’t see that there’s something waiting for me in WhatsApp or on the phone or whatever for a period of time. Whatever, I can find if I go looking for them, because they’re in the library and that’s the key to it. You can know your brain by investigating a little bit, reading things like Susan Kane’s Quiet, or there are lovely videos on YouTube from the professor that’s mentioned  in that book which are just so illustrated. And if you understand the things that you need, like, for example, I didn’t until recently understand the difference between hypersensitive, and hyposensitive. And hypersensitive would be the kind of classic what you might appreciate, if you think about people on the spectrum, who are super overstimulated by the smallest amount of stuff, and then therefore have to end up going into a sort of a mental tunnel that might involve some sort of chanting to themselves, or that might be quite extreme, but you might be doing it through some sort of fidgeting or something like that, that helps you to focus, you might be grabbing your leg, or  you might be rubbing your hands, which is a sign that you’re overstimulated in the space, and you need to bring your focus back. Hyposensitive, which is really interesting, and I identify with it so watch, are people who can’t be stimulated so easily and actually require much more than the environment is giving them bright colours and old noises and activity and people and what have you. And hyposensitive people often need to get rid of energy before they can focus. And so, you try and put them in a chair, and they’ll be twisting around and spinning in a swivel chair. So, you can do things like giving them a space where they can go and, I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but play table tennis or pool or whatever and get rid of it, or monkey bars, or I don’t know. But also, it could be something like fidget sticks built into the underside of a table, or gentle vibration that they can control in the seat, which gives them that stimulation, and allows them then to focus in the space. So, there are some really cool and interesting things that you can do in that respect. And that’s what I’ve built for myself and I’m trying to help build for other people too to be able to do that. 

 

Bernie J Mitchel  18:14  

I’m petrified now, as you were talking about that, I was playing with my pockets here and going, am I hyper or hypo?

 

David  18:20  

Well, it’s great. But you know, you call it paranoid. And it’s good to be a little bit paranoid because you could say introspections. Paranoid has got a negative connotation to it. But just use it as a thing that you need to take some time to understand what it is that you need from your environment. And then see what you can do to tailor that. And it might mean that you have to move to somewhere else. Or you have to put some stuff around you, or pull some stuff down, change the lighting, do something with the sound, those are the things that can really help. 

 

Bernie J Mitchel  18:45  

I want to jump across. There’s something I was going to ask Karen because as I’ve been setting the Nook up in Creative Works here, and I’ve learned more about connectivity in the last 48 hours than I have in the last 300 years. And about how much I can’t even say  how much internet comes into the building and how much you share it with the people around you. And  we have something like hundreds of  MGs coming into our house, which never seems enough, but like how much do you need? And what’s the difference between having a lot of internet versus an uninterrupted connection? Because I know when David picked up his phone, it made me think how often I look at my phone and wait for an email to send. I’ve watched a spinning thing on the screen. And I don’t know whether they’re designed to hypnotize you, but what do we actually need and what’s the difference between uninterrupted and megabytes? And again, I’m really excited because we’re going to go into megabytes and gigabytes here.

 

Karen  20:02  

I worked for  Telco and internet provider for years and we got into that terrible race of offering more and more megabytes to our customers. That was how we explained to them that our internet was better. And unfortunately, we were playing to that human nature. It’s not actually the truth, you don’t need more, you need more stable internet. But the easiest way or the intuitive way that people understand it is speed. So, we got into this race with all the other internet providers with just 50 megabytes. We knew we were in this race, and we were having to upgrade our systems all the time. When you look at the problems. I mean, we’re all aware of them now, especially when we’re working at home of the network glitched. Not because you haven’t got sufficient speed coming into your house because you know you have that. 

The last survey that we did, over 90% of people are not working on a fixed time in their house, we’re all working over Wi-Fi, because that’s the most convenient way of doing it. But Wi-Fi is susceptible all the time to different electric talking spectrums, the radio spectrum. I can talk about that maybe in the radio, in the area of the spectrum where radio is that subject to a lot of electromagnetic interference just by the nature, that’s what happens with radio waves. Wi-Fi works great until maybe someone turns on the dishwasher, or your neighbour’s access point comes online next door, and any number of things that can be happening all the time, a phone call coming in. These are all interrupting and interfering with the radio waves you’ve had. So, one minute you’ll be going fine and the next thing you’re thinking, well, that’s working just now why should I stop working here? I hope that answers your question. Speed is just the easiest way that people go, oh, I’m going to upgrade, or I need to get more speed in here and this will stop happening. And actually, it’s not true. Right now, for this call, it may be  that two megabytes would be perfect, and I know I’ve got 120 coming into my house here and you don’t need that much.

 

Bernie J Mitchel  23:00  

I was relieved to hear that.  What happens with Li-fi? I don’t want to carry on misrepresenting it.

 

Karen  23:18  

On the electromagnetic spectrum, all of the wireless communication that we use today is on radio and that starts at the beginning of the spectrum. Those waves are quite lazy when Nooking. As you move, you can attach a packet of data anywhere up the electromagnetic spectrum. Next, comes microwaves, and actually, they’re being used in space to send data. When you get past that you get into the area of light. You can attach packets of data all the way up to gamma rays, which are right at the top there.  We’re using light tone, and we’re using infrared, invisible lights that you can also attach to visible light. When you get up there, those waves are much closer together, so you can imagine that yes, we can deliver a lot more speed. You can attach 1000 times more data to Lightwave then you can to radio waves. But the magic comes actually more where with the stability of those waves. So, I think, Bernie, I explained it to you, when you turn on a light, the light always falls in the same way unless you physically move where the bulb is facing, that light is falling in a very steady even way. It’s not morphing and moving like a radio wave. When you attach data to that light, it’s just not steady.

 

Bernie J Mitchel  24:49  

I’m very excited to be in a Nook. 

 

Karen  24:56  

The thing is you talk about productivity coming. Nobody really that interested in connectivity. It just needs to work, right? Until it doesn’t work yet. And that’s certainly interesting in the negative way. I don’t know if it’s exciting. I think people get excited about life. So, we’ve definitely seen that. Because I guess it’s new technology. And it’s kind of exciting to do the first webinar over Li-fi.

 

Bernie J Mitchel  25:31  

It’s when you know it’s all going to be okay. When you wake up in the morning, horrible example, but if my wife and child are like, oh, we’re going to go and stay with a friend. And I think I’ve got a whole house to myself. But I can just sit down and leave all my stuff on the dining room table when no one’s thinking about, you kind of know something, you can get a chunk of work done. And as long as no squirrels come running through the house, you’re okay. But there’s something about being set up really well. You know, like, maybe that’s why we like these pictures of people on beaches, or in fields using laptop computers, that doesn’t actually happen in real life, but you kind of think, there is peace and tranquillity. David, can you follow on from that?

 

David  26:25  

It does happen a little bit in life because I like to jump in my camper van with my laptop and my phone and drive to the coast and work there for a day. That’s my field if you will. And that’s a little bit of the sense that I’m trying to create. Give you this little bit of predictable space that you can go, and then when you get inside, two really important things happen. The first one, if you’re getting in for the first time, and you guys can attest to this, is that you go well, what oh, and then the second thing is then that *sigh* okay, now we can get some stuff done. And it’s really important getting into that right headspace to be able to be, not just productive, because it’s not just all about deep work, but also engaging, being able to have a conversation with somebody that you don’t feel like you’re disturbing everybody else around you, that you can talk a little bit more openly, like what was the open office design for originally, well, partly saving money, but also because we need to be open so that we can drive collaboration and watercooler moments. 

But in actual fact, we’ve done the opposite. We’ve driven down collaboration and engagement in the open office. And yes, we still do need to go to the office because we crave social contact, we are social beings. But putting us all in a big open space like that and making us all do different tasks at different times of the day, with different brands, not conducive to productivity. So, we need little sanctuary spaces that allow us then, like you were describing, Bernie, that feeling of predictable, I can spread out. It’s mine. There was some great research on the 17th, which I think is still very valuable today. And it was around productivity and predictability for people into cubicles at the time, right? But it’s still relevant per person into a cubicle, give them a test to do, get a baseline then put plants into the cubicle that people do. 

And again, we get an improvement, give people the plants, let them decorate it themselves, get another improvement on the last test, which is really interesting, give them plants, let them organize it and take them away, and give them the test. And it went down below the baseline. And there’s a really interesting lesson in allowing people an element of personalization in the space, giving them elements from nature that we know have a benefit to the brain, but genuinely allowing them to do that. And then not saying not like that. That actually has a good impact on people.

 

Bernie J Mitchel  28:51  

There is a friend of mine in London called Neal Asher who wrote a book called ‘The Elemental Workplace’.  His most famous project is redesigning skies offices. And that was like a five-year thing. The Elemental workplace just says  the place you work is not like everyone’s or like a one size fits all. And in there, he says when people design their own workspace, whether that is just plants and personalization, it works. Rather than trying to try to fit people into things doesn’t work, even though I still think it does. Another really good book is by Scott Belsky which is ‘Making ideas happen’, and he researched hundreds of people mainly in the creative industries, which tools do they use? What does the environment look like? Through the whole book, it’s just like, we design your own thing, however crazy it is. 

That is when you know, that’s when peak productivity is available. When you actually think you have to be interesting. Just to hear your take, Karen, when you go through a process of designing your environment and that hard work of getting to know yourself and become aware and you know, what colour pencil do I work with best? That’s when you get towards it and also, would you say it’s like a never-ending journey of working out what works? 

 

Karen  30:26  

Definitely, I have been brought to life for just over a year now, and I really had to learn a whole new way of working. When I started with the Li-fi, I was doing quite different work, things that I wasn’t used to doing for and so. It really is an ongoing journey, a learning journey. One of the things that we’re dealing with a lot, because we’re developing new technology, there’s a lot of patents that we’re dealing with, and filing security then has become less or a much more of a big thing for me, and how to manage that. If I’m in a shared space, I’m always sort of checking and looking and, of course, VPN is something  that we use, it’s not always working brilliantly for me, I can’t access certain websites, or get into certain places when I’m doing that. So, again, when things don’t work, or it’s not working the way they should be, you just lose the flow, and you can’t do what you need to do that.

 I have gotten used to using new tools and things that helped me work in a secure environment,  I’m unable to do what I need to do if I don’t have a secure connection. But of course, as well, so most of the time that I work there, I’ve been working at home. So again, I needed to get there, there are certain times when the house is filled with kids, and then I’m needing to have to make myself a space up in the attic to be able to do that. I did what David was describing now. I made this environment with plants and things that would make me feel at home up there because it wasn’t an office I was used to working in and I just felt like I needed to get out and see my team and be with other people and I couldn’t. 

 

David  32:53  

You said  a couple of things there that triggered something in my mind. Two things I want to mention very quickly. So, one of the things we heard a lot when COVID hit and in the months afterwards was especially for coworking, I wish we invested more in flexible stuff, because we’re just so stuck now with the infrastructure and the walls and the furniture that we have. And we have to make it work with that. And we would love to have more agility. I think the workplace of the future. And the reason I thought about this is because you talked about that evolution, that constant evolution. 

So, you have to do a little bit of work to understand yourself, but then appreciate that it’s something that’s changing, not just over time, but possibly even over the course of a day. Because if I have to get a bunch of emails out, that’s going to take some deep work, but I need to do some creative iteration and that’s going to take some more inspired kind of feeding from different things, from other places. So, different tasks, need different kind of approaches, I think that’s good to be mindful of. I think workspace in the future is going to be more dynamic. Dynamic allows it to adapt to different things which are happening like COVID, but also adapt to different people’s needs and the needs of the space as it changes. And then the other piece is very quickly is home. And it’s been neglected so much and organizations every time we did a webinar for the UK Science Park Association recently, and so many of the questions afterwards were how do we support people at home right now? And you know, so there are things that can be done at home to help and a lot of it is about caring and trying to,  engaging with people. It’s consultative, right? It’s understanding what are the challenges that you’re facing in your home. I know people who’ve been doing this now for six months, they work for some of the world’s biggest companies, and they’re still perishing on the edge of their bed or in a room full of boxes and destroying their backs. We need to get that right. We need to spend some time focusing on that. People are going to be working from home and they’re going to be working from places that are not the office. Hospitality, I think is going to play a huge role in this. We spoke to somebody last week who  has a home, they have 100 leisure centres, and they’re saying how can we get the working crowd into our leisure centres? So, that’s going to be, I think, a huge play in the future. But we need to spend a little bit of time focusing on how best to help people be productive at home as well.

 

Bernie J Mitchel  35:09  

Yeah. So, as we go to the end of our time here, I don’t have to say this nicely, if I read another article about the future of work, I’m going to rip my face off. And the ‘in 2026, 10,000, women with glasses will work from three pods’ hypothesis. I call these predictions, go read that reporting to managers and the publisher. Realistically, how far should we be thinking ahead?  Both of you? Like, how far ahead do you worry, or think or plan strategically as a business? And like, as a regular human being? Where’s your head?

 

Karen  36:12  

Of course, we’re super interested in the future of work. I listen to Bruce Daisey, eat sleep, work, repeat. It’s a great podcast that just looks at making work better. And he’s got his finger on the pulse. But you know, always have where the sentiment is going, are we going to be at home? Or are we going to be working at homework, but from hotel? I think I can make myself that area where I can work in uninterrupted. I don’t worry about where exactly that’s going to be, I think it’s going to be possible to create those spaces for me to work in wherever it is. 

 

Bernie J Mitchel  37:29  

I like my big screens, and my whole environment would be where I can pop up anywhere and do stuff is great. What do you think, David?

 

David  37:42  

I have of extremes at play, when I think about these things, I think about really, really, really far in the future, like beyond my own lifetime, things that I won’t be around to enjoy, but that I can affect now, with the seeds that we saw. And it gives me a great sense of urgency.  I look forward. Way forward, and then I look back and I think, God, the way we looked back 1000 years, or 100 years, or whatever it is, and go look what they were doing. Well, they’re going to do that to us now. So, let’s not worry about it too much. But let’s put that in context. Not everything is perfect. We can fix some stuff right now. And then that brings me to the second point. Where do I look when it turns in terms of the future? I look at tomorrow. I look at next week, I look at next year. And I think what we can do right now to move us towards where they’ll laugh at us a bit less than they’re doing right now. I also think there’s a huge urgency right now. Never in my lifetime has the employee been as empowered as they are now to say to an organization, nope, I am not coming back until you do X, Y and Z. And that power may not last. I hope it will. But we have it right now. So, I think there’s an urgency about acting right now to change those workspaces and to change the balance of work life.  I’m absolutely enthused to see very large organizations leading by example, by saying, okay, we have a pyramid work from anywhere you want policy now moving forward. And I think we’ll eventually have that as much as possible, wherever it is possible. And we’ll look back on this period, which I hope is ending of presenteeism. See the end of it? 

 

Bernie J Mitchel  39:39  

I saw a big emotion there. Karen, what was that?

 

Karen  39:45  

Presenteeism, just that word it has always been, again, listening to Mr. Bruce Daisey, it’s a huge bugbear of his. He looks at all aspects of work, but this is one of the biggest ones that he goes out and again and again, because we’re all built differently, we’re not the same, we all work in such different ways when we’re getting good work done, we really have to be able to figure that out for ourselves and make that right. And up to now it’s just been, now if you’ve been sitting in that chair, that’s how I know that you’re doing the work. And I think what you see now on are reports that people have been saying that they’re so much more productive, and it’s not just from having bought two hours from the commute back into their day. 

But just because they’re able to create an environment for themselves where they’re comfortable. It’s the feedback that I gave them at work to our staff, how’s this been happening this week? Because I asked all of us, has this been working out for you? And that was the feedback, I gave them. Are you warm enough? Because, of course, in the office, the temperature is bad. So, I’m always a little bit cold there. And there’s not quite a small enough chair for me, because I’m not the typical size. I’m always a little bit uncomfortable. And that’s great when I’m interacting with people. And I can get some of that because I need that. But when I’m working at home, I have been able to create, I did have to go make it, but I made space myself. Perfect. When I was in that Nook, I didn’t want to get out. I’m desperate to have one at home now. 

 

Bernie J Mitchel  41:42

Chris, the thing about the temperature and the workplace being for men, Elena who is the community manager there sent me that report earlier this year. Let’s talk a little bit about that because there is a book I am going through at the moment by Leslie Kern called the Feminist City. It’s scary and enlightening for me to read, because as a man, I don’t realise how conveniently the world has been designed for men. And I am saying things to my wife, ‘’I didn’t know that’’, she goes like, ‘’everybody knows that you stupid man’’. She doesn’t say stupid man. Let’s talk a little bit about that. How’s the office environment designed by men for men? When you think about it, is that right?

 

Karen 42:33

It’s not just about the furniture and everything, the whole way is much more geared to how men function, the files they have and the layout. I think if women were to design that, they would have been designed in a completely different way. You would have a way to always travel to that central place. I am not an expert in terms of design but my understanding from reading these report books about the dangers, the crash test dummies for cars, the seatbelts have been tested for males.

 

David  44:06 

It’s improving too slowly for my liking, but it’s improving because we are balancing up the gender gap design in the workplace in terms of the positions of authority. I know this is a gross generalization but, proudly speaking, women think more inclusively and therefore, you get environments that are not one size fits all but are mindful of different types of needs in a space. We’re coming from a period where men had all the authority and it’s taking a long time to change all that. So, I think ‘s about perspective, when you design from your perspective, you design a space that suite you. When you think more broadly, and you empathise, and you consult with other people. Every workplace is different. IT companies will have a very different profile of brains and genders than a marketing company or an event organizer. So, if you are mindful of your organization, where you want to take it and the kind of work force that you have and you consult with it, then you can right size things for the needs of the space. That consultancy is slow to happen but if you can make it happen and push a little more with conversations like this, then the bottom line for the organization  and the bottom line for individuals will improve.

 

Bernie J Mitchel  45:31

We’ve come to the end of our time. Anything to add before we wrap up? Give a little shout out of where we can find things online. We will add some links to the show notes on everything we’ve spoken about, the books we’ve mentioned and all those exciting reports you keep bringing up.

 

David 45:48

I want to bang the drum for inclusive design and design for the extreme benefit. It’s just a cornerstone of vast improvement in our thinking if we can move the needle in that regard. I think we can improve the world in meaningful ways and we will look back at this as a watershed time. Also, a huge thanks to you guys for putting this together. I’m really loving the partnership with Karen and her team. We put this together really quickly. Creative Works were amazing and accommodating in putting all this together in a couple of days. Looking forward to hearing about people going to Creative Works and a couple of locations around Europe to try the True Li-fi Nook and we’ve got a special Nook for people with ADHD and Dyslexia and stuff like that in Creative Works. We’d love to get people’s feedback on that. 

 

Bernie J Mitchel  46:48

Karen, do you have anything to add?

 

Karen 46:52

People can come to Creative Works in London and try out the Nook. It is wonderful. Once you get in, you don’t want to get out. And to try Li-fi. We didn’t even get to the topic of light not travelling through walls. Data over light is much more secure because it’s not travelling out like a Wi-Fi connection would. People should come along, and it would be fun to talk to each other over Li-fi in the coming three weeks.

 

Bernie J Mitchel 47:59

We will stick all those in the show notes. Thank you everyone for listening.



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