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Episode 82

Creating Inspiring Physical Spaces and Work Environments that Elevate People

with Author & Workplace Strategist Kursty Groves

Kursty Groves is a workplace consultant, author, professor, speaker and adviser on creativity, innovation, and what makes work work. Mike Petrusky asks Kursty about how her experience with companies both in the U.S. and Europe helps her lead clients to engage with others to inspire change and implement the right solutions. They discuss “the people side of space” and how workplace leaders must use both quantitative and qualitative data to deliver environments that meet the needs of the human beings in our facilities. Kursty believes we must focus on insight, influence, and inspiration if we hope to provide “Spaces for Innovation” for the people in our organizations as we head into 2020 and beyond!

The Next Generation of IWMS: iXMS

Download the FREE “Workplace & Space Management Software” report from Verdantix: https://www.iofficecorp.com/verdantix-report-mp

Connect with Kursty on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kursty/

Connect with Kursty on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kurstyg

Find out more about Shape: https://www.shapeworklife.com/

Order Kursty’s latest book: https://www.amazon.com/Spaces-Innovation-Science-Inspiring-Environments/dp/9491727974/ref=sr_1_1?crid=14F8I1AOQWVUR&keywords=spaces+for+innovation&qid=1572278325&sprefix=spaces+for+inn%2Caps%2C214&sr=8-1

Connect with Mike on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikepetrusky/

Share your thoughts with Mike via email: podcast@iOFFICECORP.com

Learn more about iOFFICE’s workplace experience solutions: https://www.iOFFICECORP.com/

Read full transcript:

Mike:

Hey, I wanted to take just a minute to tell you about a new report that was released recently. It was published by Verdantix, an independent research and consulting firm and in it they conducted a review of the 23 most prominent space and workplace management software companies. And guess what? iOFFICE was named the leader in two categories, iOFFICE scored highest overall and highest in workplace services. Awesome, right? So if you've been thinking about workplace and space management software, and you're just not sure which option out there is right for you, I'd like to send you a free copy of the report so you can check it out for yourself. All you need to do is go to iofficecorp.com\verdantix-report-mp. That's right, M P as in DJ Mike P. And I'll also leave this link in the show notes for you to make it easy. I hope it helps with your decision making process as you explore the available software tools that will help you elevate the employee experience in your organization.

Kirsty Groves:

The most successful companies are the ones where their leadership understands the power of physical environment. Not just the power of it, but the role it plays, knowing that it's needed. It's not just an add on as I've said. It's an essential part of the process.

Mike:

This is the Workplace Innovator podcast, where we talk with corporate real estate and facility management leaders about the industry trends and technologies impacting your organization. This show is powered by iOFFICE, the leading employee experience focused IWMS software that delivers real time data and mobile tools to help you intelligently manage your digital workplace.

            Hey everybody, and thanks for stopping by for another episode of the Workplace Innovator podcast. My name is Mike Petrusky, and this is episode 82 of the show. I'm really glad you're here for this week's conversation. It's a good one, folks. My guest today is Kursty Groves, a workplace consultant, author, professor, speaker, and advisor on creativity, innovation, and what makes work “work”. We had a really great discussion about how Kursty's experiences with organizations, both here in the U.S. and in Europe have led her to an understanding about what really matters most to the people in our organizations. Kirsty offers some practical advice for us and, you know I love this, we have a bit of musical fun along the way that will definitely bring a smile to your face. So here we go.

            Joining us today on the Workplace Innovator hotline, I am pleased to welcome Kursty Groves to the show. Hi Kursty.

Kursty Groves:

Hi Mike. How are you?

Mike:

I am great. Where are you calling from?

Kursty Groves:

I'm in Kent, which is a county just South of London.

Mike:

Sounds beautiful. Countryside, are you looking out over pastures and cows?

Kursty Groves:

I am. I am. I've got a very beautiful view. And if anyone knows Kent, it's very famous for Oast buildings, which are O-A-S-T if you want to look it up. They are really interesting. One of the first live work buildings that have ever been produced and they are responsible for drying hops, which make beer. So it's a really nice view. I've got beautiful architecture and the prospect of some nice beer too.

Mike:

So you walk to your neighbor's homes and ask for samples and see how they're doing.

Kursty Groves:

That's right. That's right.

Mike:

Are you close to any castles? I'm a big Downton Abbey fan, Kirsty.

Kursty Groves:

Oh, that's right. Yes.

Mike:

See Highclere castle out your window?

Kursty Groves:

Quite from here, but we have some beautiful of castles. One's called Bodiam and it's the kind of castle that a five year old child would draw, the kind of really square with the battlements and everything. It's like your archetype or kind of medieval castle. It's amazing. Yeah. We've got tons of them around here. It's a really beautiful place. It's well worth a visit actually. This part of the country it's called, The Garden of England.

Mike:

Wow. Sounds beautiful.

Kursty Groves:

It's nice. It's nice.

Mike:

Kursty, you caught my attention on LinkedIn with some of your videos about space and your thoughts on creating innovative workplaces, which is right up our alley here on this podcast, but tell us a little bit more about yourself. I know you're a consultant and you're an author of some books and you're working on a new one possibly, but get us up to speed. Tell the audience who you are and what you do.

Kursty Groves:

Okay, great. So I call myself a space coach, which I'll come onto later because I'm very much focused on the people side of space. I started out actually as an engineer and then industrial designer. So my background is very much in how stuff works and how to design things so that people find them useful. But then about, I would say 10 years ago, a little bit more, I was working as an innovation consultant, helping organizations to improve their creativity and get innovation through the organization. And I realized that there was a big, big, big gap in many organizations at the time. And that they were missing a very, very large part of, I guess, the kind of one of the leavers for innovation and that's the environment. And so I decided to kind of find out what was going on and how some organizations pay attention to space and how others didn't. And that led me to write my first book. So I don't come from an architecture background. I don't come from a facilities management or property background, but I come from this kind of business consulting background with an eye for design.

            And so I just really stumbled upon this whole area probably about in 10, 12 years ago, and became so fascinated by the connection between physical environment and business and human performance and just kind of followed my nose really along the way. And over the last 10 years, I've been really lucky to work with some fantastic clients, big and small. And then more recently, about three years ago, I was commissioned to write another book. It's called Spaces for Innovation, and that delves really deeply into the design and the science behind space and how it supports innovation. And that really gave me the kind of, I would say, the why behind why space matters. Whereas, my first book was much more what's going on.

            And now I think the third book is probably brewing to become a how. So how can you actually leverage space to create really, really high performing environments for your people? So that's where I'm going. So yeah, I'm keeping busy and really enjoying this whole exciting area of work and workplace.

Mike:

Excellent. Wow. Well, I can't wait to talk more about that, but first I do like to get to know a little of the personal side of my guests. Kursty, I am a child of the eighties. I love the bands that came from your part of the world. What kind of music gets you inspired?

Kursty Groves:

Well, this is a great one because I love all sorts of music, of course, but I always find myself going back to probably music from the nineties because that's when I was at university. And one of my favorites is Blur. I love Blur. I love Damon Albarn. And I think one of my favorite songs of all time that gets me tapping my feet is Parklife. I don't know if you know Parklife?

Mike:

I don't.

Kursty Groves:

Oh, it's great. You've got to listen to it. It's got a proper cockney accent in there. It's really, really joyful. And it's one of those things where it's like a little vignette of just what's going on in the world in and around a park. And it's just describes all these really fun and interesting characters, so I just love it. And it talks about the pigeons, feeding the pigeons and-

Mike:

Wow.

Kursty Groves:

Yeah. It's really lovely.

Mike:

You don't want to sing a little for us, do you?

Kursty Groves:

Parklife. It goes, I get out when I want, except for Wednesdays. When I get rudely awakened by the dustman. It goes, I put my trousers on and have a cup of tea and I'll think about leaving the house. I just love it.

Mike:

Fantastic. It sounds like you can't help but smile.

Kursty Groves:

Very funny, it's very funny and it goes parklife every now and then.

Mike:

Really good. Really good. I will check that out.

Kursty Groves:

Please do.

Mike:

And Kursty, can you inspire our audience with any kind of an inspirational or motivational quote?

Kursty Groves:

Yes. This is one that I came across when I was really stuck a couple of months ago and I love it so much that wrote it down in my little bullet journal. I have a journal and each month I like to put down a bit of a quote to kind of inspire me. And this one has helped me so much that I've written it three months running. It's just so good.

Mike:

Wow.

Kursty Groves:

Yeah. And it's so simple and it's this. It's by Arthur Ash and it is, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. And I just absolutely love it. So, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. And I think if you're ever feeling overwhelmed or stuck or just, what do I do next? That is just a lovely thing to live by, I think.

Mike:

I love it, that's just the basics. We can only do what we can and to put too much pressure on ourselves is self-defeating in many ways. So, that's great stuff.

            Well, let's learn more about what you see as the drivers in the market today. We talk about workplace and innovation on this show and we understand that the physical space has an incredible impact on the occupants of our facilities. My audience, Kursty, is made up of facility management professionals, corporate real estate executives, people in HR and IT, that are interested in hopefully collaborating together to deliver these workplaces that can enhance the employee experience and productivity and take care of the human beings that are occupying our spaces. So with that as the background, what do you think are the most important factors today when it comes to an organization's physical space?

Kursty Groves:

Really great question. And I think there might be a theme with everything pretty much that I talk about. And I always love to go back to basics. I was just speaking at a conference last week actually, and the comments that I got from people afterwards was all around really just kind of remembering the fundamentals of what it is that we're trying to achieve. And it's a really tough thing when you are working to deadlines and you're working with complex situations to actually just think, what is it that we're actually trying to achieve?

            So for me, it really is just kind of reminding ourselves about the incredible power of the physical environment has on us and how it kind of shapes the way that we behave. And so one of the things that I think we often forget, whether it's a facilities management professional, or a corporate real estate professional, or even an HR professional and IT, is that actually what we're here to do is to remind ourselves that we're trying to create a kind of an environment where people can actually thrive. And that's why it's so important to make sure that the basics are right.

            It's also important to work to really understand what is the people need and not be afraid by the results that you find. A couple of clients that I've started working with very recently have kind of gone quite far down the line of just delivering a building and then kind of have realized that they need to somehow get some engagement along the way. And it's a very much a kind of tail wagging dog situation whereby they're in danger, they were in danger, of delivering something and then kind of justifying what they were delivering. So I think it's a really important thing, not to be afraid, to kind of go back to basics, to communicate with each other and say, "What is it we're actually trying to achieve here?" Get really aligned on it and then work together to produce a result.

Mike:

So Kursty, beyond the typical measurements of operations and space utilization, you've expressed that there's ways we can measure our success when it comes to creating a more engaging environment for the people. Are there actual metrics we can use to demonstrate that we are succeeding or moving in the right direction for our organization?

Kursty Groves:

Yes, I think there are. And I think the thing is though, when we talk about metrics, I think it's really important to think in terms of qualitative and quantitative. Because metrics as we think of them, when we use that word, they tend towards quantitative, sorry. I always get it mixed up quantitative, right?

Mike:

Yes, right.

Kursty Groves:

Numbers.

Mike:

Hard numbers.

Kursty Groves:

Hard numbers, really easy to measure, really easy to get our heads around, that's great. However, we are human beings. We are not just all about logic. We are also about the heart. We're about how we feel. We're about stories. So what I do with clients is get them to really think about their objectives for their environment. I walk them through a model that takes them from the base ground level, which is very important, efficiencies of space, head count numbers, all of those things, and we can measure those. That's great.

            But as you start to kind of, I like to call it, elevate. If we elevate the conversation of the floor plans, beyond desk ratios, but into the hearts and minds of people, then we start to get into things that are actually more difficult to quantify, but we can tell stories around, we can have visual evidence of. We can start to gather clues and we can also get opinion-based information. So there are lots of different measures that we can use, but what I always get the organization to do is align around what's most important, prioritize their objectives and make sure there's a really good balance across those objectives. And then together, design the metrics that will help to really satisfy that board, that team, that organization, that they've succeeded.

            The really simple way of putting it is you've got statistics for the head, you've got stories for the heart. And if you've got both of those two together, you get a really, really full picture that appeals to the whole brain.

Mike:

Wow. I like that a lot. Excellent. So back to the space itself, being a tool, we talk about that a lot, that it is an opportunity for organizations to attract and retain talent. You talk about the human side, what are some of the things you've seen out there that we can do better when it comes to meeting people where they are? I often talk about the negative default setting we often have. If something's being asked of us that we're not comfortable with, we often get into kind of a defensive mode or put in a negative spin on things. We sometimes resist change. Do you have any thoughts around helping people give inspiration and deliver better results because of it?

Kursty Groves:

I think first of all, if your core belief is that people don't like change, then you're kind of setting yourself up for a very difficult time. It's not that people don't like change it's they don't like the unknown or something that they imagined to be worse than they already have.

Mike:

Yes.

Kursty Groves:

People love change when it's a positive change. People love change when it means that they're going to be in a better place. And so I think there's a huge amount around opening a genuine dialogue and making sure that you're setting out the vision and kind of managing the boundaries around what is possible and what isn't possible, but anchoring that always in the why. When people understand why something's changing, they find it much better to understand. But you're right, there's an emotional reaction. But also as human beings, the longer that people are given and the more chance they're given and the more different ways they're explained the kind of cerebral side of things, the more chance they have of then coming around to emotionally following.

            This is why I always talk about head and heart. You know some people lead with the head, some people lead with the heart. We all use both and it changes from time to time. So you're never going to be able to, with one message, with one directive, be able to satisfy everybody at one given time. So the more that you're able to share, collect, communicate, co-create, in as many different ways than the much more likely you are to A, create the right environment because you're actually consulting people and doing with them. But B, you're much more likely to take them along the way with you.

            And I think the reason it's so hard for us is because it's taken a while to get to this place where the organization appreciates that this is necessary. I think we've come from the hangover of the industrial revolution where a physical building as an asset on the balance sheet to be managed. It's a facility, right? Now the tide has changed significantly. We've seen so many positive examples of the physical environment being used as an attraction and retention tool. So that the [inaudible 00:00:17:02], we are really starting to understand that. And you see the most successful companies are the ones where their leadership understands the power of the physical environment, not just the power of it, but the role it plays.

            And so I think it's really about kind of, as I said, using as many different mechanisms and using it every step along the journey. But as much as anything, knowing that it's needed. It's not just an add on, as I've said already. A couple of my clients have just realized, Oh gosh, we better start engaging people as a kind of a bolt on. And it's not, it's an essential part of the process.

Mike:

Kursty, we're just a couple of months away from a new year, 2020.

Kursty Groves:

Wow.

Mike:

It's an exciting time. We always talk about the future of the workplace. What are you most excited about when it comes to the year 2020 and beyond?

Kursty Groves:

Well of course it's going to be the roaring twenties, isn't it? So we're all going to have a great time.

Mike:

Yes, indeed.

Kursty Groves:

Yeah, I think there's a lot of technology that's happening at the moment. There's a lot of great thinking that's happening at the moment. And I think we're going to see collaboration in a way that we haven't for quite some time. And that's where organizations are really working with their partners in a way that they haven't before. They're kind of having honest conversations, not pretending they know everything, they're speaking with their partners internally and externally. I think that's what I'm really excited about, is just working in partnership with people.

Mike:

Excellent. Me too. And we've talked about the what, and we've talked a little bit about the why, and now I can't wait to read your new book about the how we get it all done. So no pressure Kursty, but next year I'll be looking for it.

Kursty Groves:

Oh, that's great. Please hold me to that. Hold me to account, Mike.

Mike:

I sure. Wow. Well, this has been fantastic. Kursty, I really enjoyed our time together. Thank you for being on the Workplace Innovator podcast.

Kursty Groves:

Thank you for having me.

Mike:

There you have it, everyone. Kursty Groves sharing just a few of her insights about workplace engagement, inspiring change, and implementing the right solutions in our organizations. Kursty went on to tell me about the three words that start with I, that she likes to share with workplace leaders. We need to emphasize insight, influence and inspiration. Insight, how you gather information, both the quantitative and qualitative measurements that we discussed while getting to really understand what's in both the head and the heart of people in our sphere of influence. And then of course, we need to get inspired ourselves so we can then inspire others.

            Really great stuff from Kursty. And that's what this show is all about, folks. I hope it helps you in that way. It's my honor to be here with you each week as we encourage and inspire each other to be a workplace innovator. Peace out.

            You've been listening to the Workplace Innovator podcast. I hope you found this discussion beneficial as we work together to build partnerships that lead to innovative workplace solutions. For more information about how iOFFICE can help you create an employee centric workspace by delivering digital technology that enhances the employee experience, visit iofficecorp.com.