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Episode 81

Essential Workplace Collaborations: Designing the Workplace for the Workforce of Tomorrow

Megan Thompson is owner of Spark Interiors, Darin Rose CFM, SFP, GGP is Facility Manager at the City of Lone Tree, and Darren Kanthal is an HR consultant and Principal of The Kanthal Group. In September 2019, Mike Petrusky met in Denver, CO with Megan, “FM” Darin, and “HR” Darren to broadcast a live webinar called “Essential Workplace Collaborations: Designing the Workplace for the Workforce of Tomorrow”. This webinar was recorded in front of a live audience at the 2019 RockCon Built Environment Expo & Conference where the panel explored practical ways to encourage collaboration across departments, design space to meet the needs of your workforce, and inspire you be a workplace innovator in your organization!

Next-generation-IWMS-recording

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

Download the full webinar conversation: https://www.iofficecorp.com/webinar-download-essential-workplace-collaborations

Connect with Megan Thompson on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/meganthompson-interiordesigner/

Connect with “FM” Darin Rose on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/darinrose1/

Connect with “HR” Darren Kanthal on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/darrenkanthal/

Register for the next iOFFICE webinar on “Defining Your Workplace - A Vision for the Future”: https://www.iofficecorp.com/live-webinar-defining-your-workplace

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 Petrusky:

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.

Darren Kanthal:

A lot of times it's Jedi mind tricks. Meaning that you have to ask a lot of questions that dig into what do people want. Yes, your idea is right, and how about these other ideas? Have you thought about this? What if you incorporated that? What if you tried this? And then all of a sudden, it becomes their "idea," and like, "Yeah, I love it. This is great." And all you've done is ask questions and planted seeds.

Mike Petrusky:

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 there everyone, and welcome to episode 81 of the Workplace Innovator Podcast. My name is Mike and I am finally back home in our nation's capital after almost two straight weeks on the road. I had an amazing time at both IFMA's World Workplace in Phoenix, and then at the CoreNet Global Summit in Anaheim, California, with a little stop at Disneyland in between. You know I had to check out the new Star Wars land, right? It's called Galaxy's Edge, and I saw that among many other cool new attractions. I'm a huge Disney fan, as many of you know, and it was incredible. I could do a whole podcast episode about my time in the parks.

            Well, that might be a little off topic here, but I do want to take time and thank all of you who either came to see me speak or stop by the iOFFICE booth to say hello at either of these fantastic shows. We had a great time, didn't we? And if you missed it, I hope you'll connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter, where you'll find a few pictures and maybe find a little inspiration to join us next year at what I believe are two of our industry's signature events. I hope you'll join us next time. You won't regret it.

            Well, today, it's time to share with you the highlights from last month's live webinar broadcast. It was called Essential Workplace Collaborations and the IFMA Denver Chapter put it together and asked me to host. We had a great panel, different perspectives, you'll meet them here, and we had a really insightful discussion about designing the workplace for the workforce of tomorrow. I know you're going to enjoy it, so check this out.

            Live from Denver, Colorado, it's another iOFFICE webinar! Yeah. Awesome. So great to be here. My name is Mike Petrusky and thank you for joining us online, and thank you to those in the room here at the Colorado Convention Center. We are coming to you live from RockCon, the Built Environment Expo and Conference here in Denver, Colorado. I am so thrilled to be here. When I came to Denver, I'm a guy who loves music, and of course, my favorite artist from Denver, or about Denver, or who loves Denver, is Henry John Deutschendorf, right? Everybody knows Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. Who's that?

Darin Rose:

John Denver.

Mike Petrusky:

Rocky mountain high. Yeah. So John Denver was the first person to come to mind, but I'm so excited about the panel we've assembled today, to talk about this topic of essential workplace collaborations, designing the workplace for the workforce of the future. And I've got my panelists here to my right. I'm going to go down the list here and let them each introduce themselves and tell us who you are, what you do, and what you're most excited about, about this particular panel discussion. Megan, get us off with a good start here.

Megan Thompson:

Hi, I'm Megan Thompson and I own Spark Interiors, and I'm excited to have this discussion in front of you, to talk more about how we can collaborate with our clients, and what they have going on in their organizations so we can bring them good design.

Mike Petrusky:

And we got two Darrens with us today. So, to keep it from being too confusing, we're going to call Darin Rose, FM Darin, and Darren Kanthal, HR Darren, because that's their particular area of expertise. Get us started, Darin, tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.

Darin Rose:

Sure. I'm Darin Rose, facility manager for the city of Lone Tree. I'm also involved with IFMA at Denver Chapter here, as well as the American's Advisory Board, and also the IFMA foundation.

Mike Petrusky:

And you're going to give us the FM perspective.

Darin Rose:

Absolutely. Yes.

Mike Petrusky:

And Darren number two is going to give us the HR perspective.

Darren Kanthal:

I am HR Darren Kanthal. Named my firm as the Kanthal Group, happily named of course. And I provide professional coaching services, primarily career, life, and executive coaching. I also work as an HR consultant. And one of the reasons I'm most excited to be here is because I think all too often HR is viewed as the policy police. What rules are we enforcing or not? And what's often missed is that we're oftentimes the voice of the employees. And when we're involved in design and facilities, oftentimes we can be your glue and help to bring all the different voices together.

Mike Petrusky:

Excellent. And I love that about this panel because we have different viewpoints about this incredible topic, and we're going to get into all those details here in a second. Okay. So. I do, on my podcast, like to get to know my guests a little bit, we do talk about music, but I also like to inspire our audience. So, to do that, I've asked each of my panelists to share an inspirational quote, something that gets them excited about the work they do and the people they get to interact with. So let's start with Megan again. Megan, you shared this book author.

Megan Thompson:

Yes. So, Austin Kleon designers will love this. So he is an author, creative professional, and he's written these books to kind of help you get creative and build the creativity into your daily routines in small doses. But the quote that I liked the most was something like, "When your job is to see things that other people don't, you have to slow down enough so that you can look. So, get off the phone, sketch something out on paper every morning."

Mike Petrusky:

We all need to slow down and take a breath and look around, and especially when you're in the role that you are.

Megan Thompson:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mike Petrusky:

Making those decisions, helping to guide people. That's awesome.

Megan Thompson:

Yeah.

Mike Petrusky:

And that title of the first book there, Steal Like an Artist reminded me of a great Steve Jobs quote. You ever heard him say that, "Good artists borrow, but great artists steal." I think he took that from someone else, obviously, but when they talked about how Apple kind of stole a lot of their concepts for that really great personal experience, he was happy to claim he's an artist and he gets to steal from others.

Megan Thompson:

Makes sense.

Mike Petrusky:

So, great stuff. All right, HR Darren, you got something for us?

Darren Kanthal:

I do. I do. So I left my corporate gig about a year ago. And it's interesting, when you're in corporate, you kind of know what your lanes are and what you do. As an entrepreneur, I do all sorts of things and starting off, I would accept jobs that maybe weren't in my wheelhouse and this quote from Richard Branson really served me quite well, which is "If you're presented with an opportunity or amazing opportunity and you're not sure what to do, simply say yes and figure it out later."

Mike Petrusky:

I love it. I love it. We all have to be that way, right? We all have to be changing and updating our skills and using our emotional intelligence in this world today, so bringing those creative skills to the table is what's unique, and a lot of times, we don't know how to do it until we get into it. So, inspiration for sure. Thanks for that. All right. FM Darin Rose.

Darin Rose:

Okay. So my quote is actually from the wise sages, Fun Boy Three, as well... the Bananarama and the-

Mike Petrusky:

What?

Darin Rose:

And the collaboration that they did. Yup.

Mike Petrusky:

So I found this album cover, and it's a song they did together called "It ain't what you do." So what's the quote?

Darin Rose:

"It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it. It's the time that you do it. It's the place that to do it. That's what gets results." And the reason why it's important to me, as a reminder that it's not just about the task, but it's how you do the task and collaborating with others and going along for that whole ride. It's like the two bands coming together to produce this song. It's a great song to remind me of those things.

Mike Petrusky:

You want to sing it for us Darin?

Darin Rose:

It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it.

Mike Petrusky:

What you do, it's the way that you do it.

Darin Rose:

It ain't what you do, it's the time that you do it.

Mike Petrusky:

It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it.

Darin Rose:

It ain't what you do, it's the place that you do it.

Mike Petrusky:

And that's what gets results. Yeah. Awesome. All right. Well, let's get into the questions. I've got a few prepared here for you. So let's get started with this idea of the workplace changing. We talked about it a little before we went on air, that the built environment, the workplace is evolving rapidly, a lot of things are changing. We've got technology infusion, disruption, the war for talent. The expectations of our employees is really changing as the generations come into the workforce, five generations in the workforce. So many things that we need to be thinking about as we design workspaces that are going to be relevant today and in the future. So how do we do it? What are the most important considerations when designing workplaces that will meet the needs of the future workforce? Megan, you got all the answers for us?

Megan Thompson:

All these answers. The most important consider... I think there's several things that we could talk about. We've got to take into account the culture of the company that we're designing for, and also how they plan to change for the future. So that's where we need to bring in those conversations with the HR people. And then I think, really considering the different age groups, like we talked a lot... We heard a lot about the multigenerational workforce that we have.

Mike Petrusky:

And they all come with different expectations and different styles of work. There's also personality types-

Megan Thompson:

Yes, definitely.

Mike Petrusky:

And different tasks that we kind of have to approach during the workday. So all those are important elements. HR Darren, you have any thoughts?

Darren Kanthal:

Of course. I'm a New Yorker, I always have a thought. What's interesting about us as human beings is I think we overcomplicate things a lot. Most companies really are not very good at workforce planning, period. Finance folks, HR folks are like, "Great. We're going to play up for three to five years. We'll have this great plan." It's just not reality. So where I'm going with the over complication of things is that, you know your business, or most companies know their business, right? They know the positions they have to hire or what are most important to them. We also know that, from the so-called experts, Millennials are making up over 50% of the workforce by next year, and their preferences are different than Xers and Boomers. And I think oftentimes what happens is, because it is a minority at the very top of the food chain, making the decisions for the majority, it's important that the voice of the majority is heard.

            And I think that's what's often missed, is that decisions are made at unilaterally by the very top. They don't bring in the bottom rungs of the company who really are the ones living that space and getting their feedback. I think that's the biggest thing that's missed.

Darin Rose:

And I think for a... On the facility side is the sustainability side. That seems to get overlooked quite often and bringing the outside environment into the interior environment. Here in Colorado, we have a lot of open spaces and it's not as critical, but in other markets, it seems like there's a concrete jungle out there, and you really need to bring that biophilic atmosphere into the built environment.

Mike Petrusky:

Yeah, and wellness programs and wellbeing. It's not just about wellness and great healthy snacks, but it's also about our overall mental health, right?

Darin Rose:

Yep.

Mike Petrusky:

Great point. And it's something that we talk about on the show a lot, is this need for all these different folks to come together, and... We have strategies now, right? Activity based working, agile working. How do you go about deciding what workplace strategy is best for your clients? Or FM Darin and your organization, when you're coming to these decisions about redesigning workspaces, how do you deal with all these different types of occupants of our facilities? The employees all demand different things, as HR Darren said, different generations have different expectations. Is it even possible to accommodate everyone?

Darin Rose:

It's a challenge. In having worked in the private sector, as well as the public sector, and nonprofits, there's different needs and certain limitations that take place in the public sector. There's a lot of people that are public-facing, and they're meeting with the public. So there's not the opportunity for that open environment and that taking the technology out, and working at the library or somewhere else because they're at that location. So there's some limitations in the public sector, but I think there are those opportunities in the collaboration points, bringing different groups together, to make sure that all the needs are met.

Mike Petrusky:

HR Darren, have any thoughts on this?

Darren Kanthal:

What I think is fascinating about the workforce, especially in design and facilities, is that I feel like oftentimes the design goes out and the facility configuration goes out and it's rigid. Meaning it's like, "Here it is, we implement it, and we're done." And I think what happens is a lot of times we don't know what we don't know. But we start knowing once we start experiencing it, right? So maybe we create those nice swings somewhere and nobody uses it. Right? And then what do you do? Do you keep it there? Or do you move it? Do you flex? And my experience has been that where the plans were rigid, it failed, period. The spaces that were supposed to be collaborative were not. It became a ghost town, nobody went there. I've also found that the best intention was to have swings or whatever may be, but then the managers didn't believe it. They didn't want their people on those swings.

            And so, the company may be saying, "Hey, from a cultural perspective, we want to be flexible." And managers who are managing day to day are like, "No. You cannot go swing. You can't go to the gym. You can't go sit in a beanbag and crush out a blog. I need your butt in a seat." And so I think that's the gig. We overcomplicate it, right? Like we're all human beings, human resources is part of that, that's what we talk a lot about as HR. And since I'm the only guy in HR, I'm going to say we do it well. But that's what's lost, just the human piece of things.

Mike Petrusky:

Interesting. And Megan, when it comes to interaction with your clients, we talked a lot about... That's this and and the preparation. You don't just come in and show them slides of Uber and Google and-

Megan Thompson:

No.

Mike Petrusky:

Slides and swings and say, "You guys should do this." That's not how it works, is it?

Megan Thompson:

No, no, not at all. If we're doing our jobs, we're doing a lot of investigation, seeing how our clients use our existing space, they're planning to reconfigure that, move to a new space. Either way, we want to know, do they want to change the way they're doing things? Or do we want to keep it the same? And then hopefully there's points of opportunity for education along the way to say, "You don't have very many collaborative spaces now. Is that something you want to consider?" Which is where I think it's key to remember that we need to circle in the HR crew because they're going to know, sometimes better than the upper leadership, probably always better than them. How can I say that?

Mike Petrusky:

How about FM? Do you bring in the FM department in your experience?

Megan Thompson:

I do work with the facilities management, but again, like HR Darren-

Mike Petrusky:

HR Darren.

Megan Thompson:

Mentioned, it is kind of like, "Well, this is what we want to do, and you're the designer and help us do it." So I think there is a missed step, a missed opportunity to really reach into the organization internally.

Mike Petrusky:

And FM Darin, do you have trouble getting that voice heard? Because you do have a lot to bring to the table. Experience, understanding about the facility itself, how the people are working.

Darin Rose:

Yes. Typically senior management, they have a certain mindset of... They just want the space and people into the space, how it gets done. They're not really focused in that. And FMs really are the interpreters between from senior management and HR and design, and interpreting the work flows back and forth. And being able to do that can be a challenge sometimes.

Mike Petrusky:

Absolutely.

Darren Kanthal:

Can I offer one last thing if I can?

Mike Petrusky:

Please. New Yorker Darren, I'm going to change you to New York Darren.

Darren Kanthal:

I'll take that too. To piggyback on your earlier Star Wars references, a lot of times it's Jedi mind tricks. Meaning that you have to ask a lot of questions to dig into what do people want. And oftentimes, again, they're rigid, "We want this." And they don't see the other perspective or the other side or other sides. And it's kind of the old adage where if somebody says, "I want to lose weight." And you say, "Oh, great. Well, then start eating salads and working out five days a week." And they're like, "Uh-uh, I'm not doing that." But if you ask them, "What are you willing to do to lose weight?" They will often say, "Okay, this is what I'm willing to do."

            And so, the Jedi mind trick is asking the questions to let them recognize the other perspective, that yes, your idea is right, and how about these other ideas? Have you thought about this? What if you incorporated that? What if you tried this? And then all of a sudden, it becomes their "idea," and like, "Yeah, I love it. This is great." And all you've done is ask questions and planted seeds.

Mike Petrusky:

That's fantastic. Not only did you give a practical tip to the audience, but you brought in Star Wars which is a big plus with me. You got me right there. Let's get practical panel. How do we do it? We got to bring in different perspectives, different human beings, different types of people, different types of work. How do we find ways to collaborate and come up with a solution that meets the needs and meets the goals of everyone in the room? Any thoughts? Who should take the lead in this by the way too?

Darren Kanthal:

HR takes the lead. Okay, the reason I say this is because I had a mentor of mine that used a rather aggressive term when it came to project management and he said, "You need one throat to choke." Meaning who is responsible for X. And yes, design is responsible for design, facilities is responsible for facilities, IT for them, everyone else, but who oversees the overall project of building a new facilities that includes all of these elements? So where I've seen it work best is where someone neutral, maybe it's HR, maybe it's not, but someone neutral that doesn't have skin in the game per se, other than they want it to go well, I'm not solely focused on design, I'm not solely focused on facilities, but overarchingly. So who is neutral enough to oversee the overall project and to bring in the different voices? Oftentimes HR can play that role, if not, someone neutral.

Mike Petrusky:

Have you experienced that, Megan, in your client interactions? Does it depend on the culture of the organization? You mentioned that right upfront, you said it was about the culture of the organization.

Megan Thompson:

I do think that culture plays into how we're going to choose to design the space because we've got to make sure it's appropriate. If they've got all baby boomers in there and that's how they're all going to be for a while, we're not going to go putting in swings. Maybe I'm wrong. But I think what I've gained from this whole conversation is that, as a designer, I should be doing a better job to engage more than just the leadership that I'm meeting with. Because oftentimes I'm meeting with VP or facilities management, very rarely do I get the CEO, but it's usually the facilities management or the office manager, and it's really limited just to that.

Mike Petrusky:

And Darin, what's your experience been?

Darin Rose:

I really see the facility manager as that introvert, that hub and the other departments to be those folks. HR has a voice into it, as well as design, and IT, and other stakeholders. But the hub is really from the facility manager to deal with, to implement with those different designs. Sometimes with HR, they have some great ideas, but because of cost limitations, we can't necessarily implement all those ideas, and same thing with on the design side. So it's a balance of what the overall goal is for the company, as well as goals for those stakeholders and the people that are actually going to be sitting in the seats, and that's just the department heads.

Mike Petrusky:

Well, we are out of time. This has been fantastic. I want to thank each and every one of you. FM Darin, thank you so much.

Darin Rose:

My pleasure. Thank you.

Mike Petrusky:

Megan Thompson, thanks for your input today.

Megan Thompson:

Yes, thank you.

Mike Petrusky:

And HR Darren, also known as New York Darren, thanks so much for being here.

Darren Kanthal:

You've given me my podcast premiere. Thank you.

Mike Petrusky:

Glad to do it. Glad to do it. Well, thank you all in the room. Let's hear it for our panelists.

            There you have it folks, just a few highlights from the hour long webinar on Essential Workplace Collaborations, designing the workplace for the workforce of tomorrow. And if you want to listen to the entire conversation, including the interactive webinar karaoke time we had with the live audience there in Denver, I will leave a link in the show notes for you. I promise a good time was had by all and there just might've been a full on John Denver sing along. I'm just saying, it's something you don't want to miss. So I hope you will take the time to check it out. And of course, I hope you will come back again next week for another podcast interview with an amazing guest who will help to encourage and inspire us 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.