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Episode 115

Support Your Remote Employee Experience & Future Workplace

with Tim Oldman of Leesman & Jo Sutherland of Magenta Associates

Tim Oldman is Founder & CEO at Leesman where he directs research to measure employee experience and Jo Sutherland, MA, MCIPR, MPRCA is Managing Director at Magenta Associates where she helps workplace leaders communicate better with their employees, customers and prospects. Tim and Jo joined Mike Petrusky and his co-host Madison Dujka on a recent “Workplace Innovator Interactive Livestream” to discuss working from home experiences, leveraging survey data and workplace communication strategies to help guide your workforce during the pandemic. This highlight episode demonstrates the valuable insights delivered during our weekly live broadcasts every Wednesday at Noon ET!

Space-Right Safe Distancing Made Simple

Connect with Tim on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/timoldman/

Connect with Jo on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/josuthers/

Listen to the full livestream recording: https://register.gotowebinar.com/recording/1055553559470585602

Find out the latest information about the Leesman WFH research: https://www.leesmanindex.com/

Learn more about Magenta Associates: https://www.magentaassociates.co/

Register for future “Workplace Innovator Interactive” livestreams: https://www.iofficecorp.com/live-webinar-2020-weekly-livestream

Discover free resources and explore past interviews at: https://www.workplaceinnovator.com/

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

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

Read full transcript here:

Mike Petrusky:

Hey guys, it's Mike P and I just launched another podcast that you might be interested in hearing. It's called the Asset Champion Podcast, and I'm on a mission to learn more about how asset performance impacts a wide variety of industries. I'm returning to my FM roots to explore more conversations around facilities and maintenance and asset management. I hope you'll subscribe to the new show and encourage me. We'll have a lot of fun getting to know some amazing industry leaders that will inspire you to be an asset champion.

[00:00:30]

Tim Oldman:

But I think in the short to medium term, what will come back is an appreciation that diarize serendipity is not a thing.

Jo Sutherland:

So as business leaders and as workplace leaders, we've got a real responsibility to guide them through that.

Mike Petrusky:

[00:01:00]

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.

Mike Petrusky:

 

[00:01:30]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:02:00]

Hey everybody, thanks for tuning in to episode 115 of the Workplace Innovator Podcast. It's me, Mike Petrusky. And this week on the show, I am excited to share with you an edit of a really informative conversation that we had just a little while ago on one of our weekly interactive live stream broadcasts. My cohost, Maddie and I were joined by Jo Sutherland of Magenta Associates and Tim Oldman, founder of the Leesman Index. And we talked about so many things that now here, weeks later, seem to be even more relevant to workplace leaders like you, as some of our offices have reopened with a limited capacity, while many other organizations remain cautious about inviting back their workforces, and a whole lot of us who have been working from home since March have accepted the fact that this will likely be our reality for quite some time to come.

Mike Petrusky:

 

 

 

[00:02:30]

So how are we all really doing well? Leesman has been asking questions about this for months now. And they've been gathering data about our home working experience and its impact on key metrics like productivity and collaboration. At the time of this discussion, Tim was not quite prepared to release the early results of these surveys. But as I hit publish on this podcast, some of that information is available right now and there is more to come very soon. So be sure to stay with us until the end of this episode to find out how you can learn more from Leesman. But first, as you listen to our chat, you'll hear interesting insights and get some practical advice to help your organization navigate through these challenging times and look to the future. So here we go.

Mike Petrusky:

Hello. Hello. Welcome everyone.

Maddie:

Hey guys.

Mike Petrusky:

[00:03:00]

We have some great guests. Let's just welcome them in right away, because this is an hour long conversation. So Jo and Tim joining us today from the London area. Hi, how are you both? Jo, nice to see you again.

Jo Sutherland:

Nice to see you, Mike. I'm good, Thank you. I'm managing to stay sane, just about. Yeah. How are you?

Mike Petrusky:

 

 

[00:03:30]

I am well, it's been about six months since we saw each other at IFMA's world workplace. And then the CoreNet Global Summit. You were here in the U.S. doing your job for Magenta Associates. The managing director of an incredible PR agency based in the UK, sharing what you know about the built environment, about facility management, about real estate, about workplace. It's been a pleasure to know you and you were a guest on a past episode of this very podcast, episode 86.

Jo Sutherland:

And you made me sing. I remember that.

Mike Petrusky:

Of course I did.

Maddie:

I don't doubt that.

Jo Sutherland:

Oh, well, we'll see. Apologies to everyone tuning in if that's the case. But hey, we all need a pick me up occasionally, right?

[00:04:00]

Mike Petrusky:

No spoilers, but we had just come from Disneyland in Anaheim, California. So that's a clue as to what happened during our conversation. Check out episode 86 folks. And welcoming for the first time on these broadcast waves, Tim Oldman, the founder and CEO of Leesman. Tim, thanks so much for taking time to join us today.

Tim Oldman:

Great to be here, Mike, and nice to speak to you again.

Mike Petrusky:

Tim, I know that four or five, six weeks ago, Leesman decided to really take a closer look at this work from home situation and do some research around it. Where's that stand today? And what are you finding out, if you're prepared to share any results.

[00:04:30]

Tim Oldman:

 

 

 

 

[00:05:00]

Yeah, a little early to share any results really Mike. But in terms of an update on where we're at, we entered the crisis with over 750,000 employee responses of the corporate office experience. And we launched a new homeworking assessment tool. So a standalone tool or one that can add on as a module onto the existing platform. And clients here are coming through thick and fast. So now over 5,600 responses for that questionnaire and pacing up quickly, in terms of the number of surveys due to launch in the next few days in the next few weeks. So I'm expecting that number to multiply very, very quickly over the next few days a week.

Mike Petrusky:

Yeah. I imagine it's too soon to share results. But put it into a framework for us for those that don't know Leesman, I assume many do or the majority do, listening to us. But what is it you do that you try to help organizations when you're measuring workplace and how is that helping your clients today?

 

[00:05:30]

Tim Oldman:

 

 

 

 

 

[00:06:00]

 

 

 

 

 

 

[00:06:30]

Yeah, so our single blinkered approach to what we do, the one thing we do well, is measuring the experience an employee has of the environment they're provided with. It's all we do. So we position ourselves like the radiographers of workplace. We're they have to take the X-ray. But no intervening surgery, no consultancy, no advisory services. Just there to take a snapshot at a moment in time. A simple online questionnaire, core survey, probably 9 minutes, 10 minutes, typical response time. The homeworking questionnaire, probably closer to three minutes as a typical response time for that. So much more focused in understanding the difference that an employee is experiencing from home. But the methodology the same. So this is important. That we can look at the activities that an employee was doing in the office and because we're asking the same questions of them in their home setting, give almost a direct comparison to understand how home is now supporting the activity profile that an employee had just a few weeks back in the corporate office setting.

Mike Petrusky:

 

 

 

 

 

[00:07:00]

And that will be the key metric, right? Going forward, as we begin to plan as workplace leaders. Our organizations are planning the return to the workplace strategy. We've talked about some of that, and we'll talk about it again today. But I wonder, as we begin opening up workplaces again in these coming weeks and months, that factor is going to be put into play in that, how did people really do in their work from home experiment? I think there's a lot of data that we're going to want to see before we make decisions that impact us for a long time.

 

Mike Petrusky:

So Jo, you're hearing a lot and you're talking a lot about this in your world. And the communication necessary between organization leaders and the strategy and the vision for our organizations is going to be key. Right Jo?

 

Jo Sutherland:

 

[00:07:30]

Yeah. No, absolutely. Well, communication is key in any crisis, isn't it? But for most of the organization we support, it's key regardless of a pandemic. Engaging your employees, engaging your stakeholders and remaining relevant and responding to the news agenda and pushing the conversation forward, it's all vital.

 

Jo Sutherland:

 

 

 

 

[00:08:00]

And obviously on the 16th of March, here in the UK, it was the first time we were all told as a nation to avoid the offices and to avoid the pubs and the theaters. And literally, the world turned upside down overnight. But I think a lot can be said for the resilience of, well, especially the organizations that we work with, obviously most of whom are in FM and workplace management. But they responded to that challenge really well. And I think the important thing to remember with communications is it's just to keep an open dialogue and to acknowledge that you don't have all the answers and being brave enough to know that's okay, no one does at the moment. But It's thinking about the ways to sensitively engage with people and to make sure that they're kept informed along the way.

 

Jo Sutherland:

 

[00:08:30]

And as government policy changes, obviously as business leaders and as communicators, we have to stay on top of that and be sure to relay those points in a nice calm way. No one's expecting anyone to have all the answers. But as a business leader, or as someone who is looking after the workforce, we have to think about all the things that we can do to make people feel as comfortable as possible even though the world feels a bit chaotic.

 

Mike Petrusky:

Absolutely. And I think that's the question I want to ask you all watching us today and hopefully you'll interact with us. How are you all feeling out there? Beyond just the working in productivity question.

 

[00:09:00]

Mike Petrusky:

 

Tim, I want to go to you next and ask you about some of the stuff I've seen on social media. You're active on LinkedIn and Twitter. I mentioned to you before we went live on air that I love the British sensibility, in the sense that it's different than the culture here in the U.S. where sometimes we're a little bit guarded in public about sharing our true opinions, at least for fear of some ramifications. And this idea of managing our fears as human beings ... And Tim, what do you have to say about that? Because I've seen you talking about it online.

 

[00:09:30]

Tim Oldman:

 

 

 

 

 

[00:10:00]

 

Yes. Well done Mike in bringing that up as an early topic. The anxieties for us, I think for the clients that we're talking to are now focused less on the corporate office and more on the commute to and from the office that the employee is going to face when they're invited to come back. And this is where I think it's important that we recognize that every organization entered this crisis with different capabilities and different susceptibilities, running their spaces at different occupant densities, at different desk sharing ratios. And therefore, there is no silver bullet. There's no secret elixir that we can offer. There's no blueprint for the return to the office. And I think anybody who takes a statistic or a proportion that's casually tossed out in one of these sessions of we'll bring back 20% in the first phase, that's crazy. That's just guesswork and nothing more.

 

Tim Oldman:

[00:10:30]

Unless the organization has a thorough understanding of what environment an employee has at home, what role they undertake in the organization, whether they're home therefore supports that role and the commute that the employee is going to face. And the employees view, their anxieties, around the risks associated with that commute. Then I think we should just pause for a moment and just cool heads will prevail in this discussion. But candidly chucking numbers out in the air and calling it strategy, that's high risk, as far as I'm concerned.

 

Mike Petrusky:

[00:11:00]

Yeah, agreed. And I want to see more data and sometimes we won't get it until we actually try some of these things. And I think that's why it has to be a very cautious, nuanced approach. And I think there will be a trickling back as opposed to a mass migration back to workplaces.

 

Mike Petrusky:

 

 

 

[00:11:30]

Jo, you were a guest on the show back in, as I said, in the fall. And you're a terribly optimistic person. But how's life, for real, going? I mean, you have a smile on your face. I see you on social media. But I know it weighs on you. And you're a very much an adventurous person. You love to travel, like I do. You go to conferences. What is it going to take for you to feel comfortable doing that again? And do you have any advice for folks? I actually have a quote that you shared on the podcast. In general, how are you feeling and how are you managing that fear of the unknown in the future that we may be facing?

 

Jo Sutherland:

 

 

 

[00:12:00]

Yeah, it's interesting. Isn't it? I mean, there's two parts to this, working from home. The first is, your capability of actually being able to do your job. And luckily, I can work from home quite happily, along with the rest of the Magenta team. So Magenta specializes in FM and workplace. So we're really lucky in that we get to hear a lot of the latest thinking in terms of how you can work smart. And part of that, for us, is working remotely when it suits us. So in terms of adapting to that, that's been absolutely no problem. But From a personal perspective, I am going a little nuts. I am a people person. And most people I know in FM, particularly, they are also people persons, people people.

 

Jo Sutherland:

[00:12:30]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:13:00]

So, yeah. And even though the technology that we have, it's been amazing. Hasn't it? I mean, we can't deny that how reliant we are on the software we're using right now and other platforms like Zoom. It's just so good that we have that technology to be able to rely on and to do our jobs. But it's not the same as that face-to-face communication. So I do miss the work events. I do miss the parties. I'm a Brit. I like the parties. But I imagine I'm not alone there. But like you say, Mike, I am an optimistic person and I know there's certain things that we can all do to look after ourselves and boost our happy. And yeah, I've got a few tips on that. Some of which, I'm can imagine Tim will roll his eyes at.

 

Mike Petrusky:

I want to hear those. I definitely want to hear those later in the show. But Jo, just to get us on a positive note here early on in the conversation, you shared this quote during your podcast episode. And I don't know if you remember it, but can you read it for us and tell us why you decided to share this one? And certainly applicable today as it was six months ago.

 

Jo Sutherland:

[00:13:30]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:14:00]

Yes. Okay. So I'll read it out. So every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day. And the reason I chose this quote is because not every day is going to be a good day, but you can always find the positive in something. And I think this situation is forcing most of us to look beyond what feels like initial chaos and madness of the world, and actually to recognize and appreciate what we do have. For the FM world and the workplace world, we're a close knit community. And actually they feel it's been much more comradery now amongst people that we're working within the industry. Everyone's supporting each other, helping each other get through this. So if you can take comfort from seeing those aspects, seeing the good in people, then yeah, it can change your whole outlook. So it might seem a bit cheesy, but yeah, I don't mind a bit of choosing a sometimes, especially during a pandemic.

 

Mike Petrusky:

 

[00:14:30]

Nor do I. I like that very much. In fact, that's a great one. We've had quotes each week that capture that feeling of day by day. Focus on what you can control. You can't predict the future. And we can't control the future for sure. And that's when my anxiety level goes up, the more I try to think about controlling the future. It's more about the day to day, hour to hour and finding the good in each day. Tim, what do you anticipate the most important factors that organizations will need to get a real understanding of and that the research that you're doing is going to help them when it comes to navigating the future?

 

Tim Oldman:

[00:15:00]

 

 

 

 

[00:15:30]

I think what we're going to see is the debates that we're just heard, in terms of distributed workforce. There's a much greater attention on the contact sport elements of work and the creative elements, the problem solving elements, the collaborative aspects of our daily work. This filtered, diarized, structured everything through a screen this size, life that we're leading at the moment. We're just four weeks into this experiment. We have no understanding of the impact on creativity. We have no understanding of the impact on problem solving.

 

Tim Oldman:

 

 

 

 

[00:16:00]

Can a scrum master properly hosted scrum session, via Zoom or a teams meeting? They may well be able to. But I was on a call last week to one who said, they think they're just about getting used to it, but they're also very conscious that the junior members of the team, who previously would sit on the periphery of the room and learn huge amounts behaviorally around problem solving and psychology just by listening and observing etiquettes and the movements in the room, are now completely devoid of that experience.

 

Tim Oldman:

So I think it's right and proper that we debate the more urban planning, big stuff that distributed teams have gone through a rapid induction to understand. But I think in the short to medium term, what will come back is an appreciation that diarize serendipity is not a thing.

 

[00:16:30]

Mike Petrusky:

 

 

 

 

 

 

[00:17:00]

 

Wow, lots to think about there. But at some point in the next few weeks and months, many of us and many organizations will have to face this return to work. Jo, what are your thoughts on this? As you've been very passionate about the fact that we go to the workplace, because we want to go to the workplace, not because we need to. And this is proven in many cases, at least for knowledge workers like us, that we can do our jobs from home. But what is it that we're going to have to do now to reestablish that mindset for, not just organizations culturally, but individuals as they each face their own particular challenges with anxiety and fear?

 

Jo Sutherland:

 

 

 

 

[00:17:30]

Yeah. Well, it's going to be a challenge. But look, I think we need to remember how quickly we were able to adapt when this first happened. Overnight, suddenly everyone's working from home and they just had to find a way to do that. And by and large, businesses are still running. So we have the adaptability within us to be able to do that. And so, by the same token, when the time comes, when it's safe to return to the office, whether it's in stages or otherwise, we'll have the ability to adapt in kind. But I think the main thing we need to think about is, obviously, communication. Making sure people feel supported along this journey.

 

Jo Sutherland:

 

 

 

 

[00:18:00]

But business leaders should think about the ways they can empower their teams to perhaps make their own choices in terms of how and where they work best. And it's going to be different for different people and obviously different sectors are going to have their own challenges. And there's no cookie cutter approach to this. But I think the key is going to be engaging with employees, with having the conversations and keeping that conversation going, to gauge sentiment and to see where people are at.

 

Jo Sutherland:

 

 

 

 

[00:18:30]

The sentiment is going to help organizations create their strategies. And obviously, every organization is going to have its own very bespoke model for approaching this. So from my perspective, you've got some people who just want to go back to the office. They want the social interaction. They want to get away from the kids and the family, or the flatmates, or whatever it might be. And there's others that are going to be really anxious about it. So as business leaders and as workplace leaders, we've got a real responsibility to guide them through that and offer support along the way. And communication plays a massive role in that.

 

Mike Petrusky:

 

 

[00:19:00]

There you have it, everyone, just a few highlights of our discussion with Jo Sutherland and Tim Oldman. If you'd like to watch the full video recording of our time together, please check the show notes for this episode. I have left you a link there. And while you're there, also look for links to get the latest information from the Leesman Index, as they have now surveyed literally tens of thousands of people about their work from home experience. And in the coming days, they will be sharing the latest findings, showing how employees are coping and what the main pressure points are.

 

Mike Petrusky:

 

[00:19:30]

So I hope you'll connect with Tim and Jo. Let them know you heard them here. Share this episode with a friend. And join us again next week, as we continue to encourage and inspire each other to be a workplace innovator. Peace out.

 

Mike Petrusky:

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.