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Make it Work – Series 1

The Modern Workplace

This 5-part series discusses themes on the current workplace – what’s working and what’s not, and the future of the workplace.

Together, with our joined expertise, we cover topics across the workplace, including culture, leadership, hybrid working models, and the move remote workers are making to regional living.

Episode 5 – How can we future-proof tomorrow’s workforce?

How can we as leaders navigate the sea of change and uncertainty? An environment which can be extremely challenging to hire, upskill and educate staff in.

Luckily, in episode 5 of Make it Work, Lachy and Karen look at strategies for ‘future-proofing’ today’s workforce. They look at how to foster a learning culture and create an environment that fosters and promotes ongoing development and growth.

How can you foster learning culture in a remote environment? How is it different to cultivating office-based learning cultures?

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Published 26 July 2021

Show Notes

1.00 Future of Jobs Report {reference 1}
3.20 Thinking about how we learn and cretaing the right mindset
4.40 Adam Grant Think Again {reference 2}
6.15 First attempt at Yarno was a failure as we didn’t listen to the customer
8.50 How to encourage a culture of learning
11.35 Employees want development, how do business owners provide it
17:20 Why professional development is so important for employee engagement {reference 3 and 4}
21:15 Book – Turn the ship around {reference 5 }: story of changing the performance of a team
23:08 Don’t ask for permission for leave ; state your intent
26:50 Demonstrating how we change behaviour through learning encourages a learning culture
27:50 What can you do as a small-medium sized business to encourage learning
32:40 Creating a handbook for culture
36:10 Having an “open-mic” session at a team meeting
38:15 Hawthorn Effect showed the largest impact on productivity was when workers got special attention
39:25 Development can be selecting just one small thing to do over the next two weeks
41:30 Growth midset {reference 6}
43:40 Feedback is the foundation of learning
44:30 Framework for practising giving and receiving feedback
47:15 Using tools like Slack to make sure we are recognising each other
49:20 You need to build up trust through regular feedback
54:20 Leaders in business need to ask for specific feedback by critising themselves “here is something I’m not so good at, and I’m working on, I’d love your feedback on it”
58:20 Making feedback and being vulnerable normalised in the worplace
1:00:02 Using a simple framework to check in on eachother
1:01:13 How mindset and frameworks can be similar
1:03:50 Article: learning culture {reference 7}
1:07:02 Article: teaching smart people how to learn {reference 8}
1:12:00 A great way to learn is to break things apart and look at it from different angles
1:12:30 Assign a devil’s advocate when brainstorming
1:15:32 Reverse brainstorming for innovative thinking
1:16:16 Question for Lachy: How to do you prevent biases when hiring for culture?
1:23:01 Using AI in recruitment useful for reducing bias
1:29:30 If you could implement one thing in businesses around Australia to improve their culture what would it be?
1:31:00 Your business is your people

References

1. https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-future-of-jobs-report-2020
2. https://www.booktopia.com.au/think-again-adam-grant/book/9780753553893.html
3. https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/Pages/Skills-Gap-2019.aspx
4. http://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/191435/millennials-work-life.aspx

Episode 4 – Why remote workers are going regional

As remote work becomes the new normal, more and more people are trading in their city dwellings for regional houses that put life before work and offer a more wholesome lifestyle. In the fourth episode of Make it Work, Karen and Lachy discuss the relationship between remote work and regional areas. 

Sharing their personal experiences, Lachy and Karen discuss both the benefits and downfalls of remote workers going regional and what this means for companies when they go to hire. Will regional remote workers open up the opportunities for companies to hire interstate? Or possibly even overseas? And how will this affect the future of work for Australians?  

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Published 5 July 2021

Show Notes

1:10 Definition of hybrid work
1:45 Atlassian concerned about workers being burnt out by hybrid work {reference 1}
2:30 Is it still hybrid work when you are mandating days to work from an office or is that office work with flexibility?
4:20 Hybrid work is when an employee is in the office at least once per week
4:50 Are companies moving to hybrid work because they have an office space to use or because they think it is the best way to work?
6:45 Is our experience of hybrid right now different to what it could be, because we moved into it so fast?
07:20 “Zoom fatigue” – it hasn’t been designed with the human brain in mind {reference 2}. A lot of effort has been put into security and making it a stable platform, but the next step needs to be human centered design to enable hybrid work
10:45 The book Good to Great talks about technology as an accelerator of existing momentum {reference 3}
11:50 Is hybrid working the most difficult? Starting with meetings with some in the office and some remote, it is easy to feel disconnected
14:15 In open plan offices if some people are in the same meeting but online because there are some people remote, what about the noise levels for the other employees in the office
15:15 Do we end up with more meeting rooms or workplace pods? {reference 4}
16:20 What’s the purpose of a meeting? What’s the purpose of an office?
18:30 Does being in the office and being remote suit different types of roles? {reference 5}
19:50 Do we use the role types to inform who works from home or in the office? How does personality impact on this? Introversion/extraversion?
22:15 Are we starting a two-class system of employees as those in the office are seen as more productive than those who are not?
23:30 Are we creating in groups and out groups? Is there a power and information asymmetry?
26:00 When is the burning platform for organisations to start to notice impacts from hybrid work?
28:30 Imagine if we could design office spaces for humans and how we work
31:10 Coworking spaces have started to show what the workplace should look like with collaboration spaces, flexibility, and enabling different senses
34:15 Offices may not need to just be for your staff. One company may have different office hubs but with other company’s staff that happen to be in the same community
37:30 You need be quite confident you have a good culture if you are going to work out of co-working spaces or invite other organisations to share your office space
39:00 How does it impact on attracting and retaining talent if you don’t have your decisions around how you want to work resolved
42:20 Barriers to entry to change jobs or start your own business are low so retention is key
42:50 The world economic forum Future of Jobs report – 5 years from now we will divide work between humans and machines roughly equally which means that as employees we have to be better at things employers can’t do as an employers we need to set the conditions to enable our employees {reference 6}
45:50 Perhaps the last 12 months will be enough to shift the mindset to stay relevant
46:30 This is the first time we’ve started to have the way we work as a business strategic objective
48:15 We have a fantastic opportunity right now to experiment and bring our staff along for the journey
49:15 We need to adapt, change our mindset and engage greater stakeholder groups
50:50 Article: Business Insider article where the CEOs of Slack, Zoom and Atlassian outline their concerns over working from home {reference 7}
52:00 Slack’s CEO’s concern over new hires “I do sometimes worry that we’re running on the stored fat, or the accumulated social capital that had accrued over the course of the years prior.”
53:00 How we hire will change as we now have more knowledge of our working environment changing
55:00 We used to always talk about visible leadership. Is that still seen as important? Does remote working change what we think effective leadership is?
55:50 Article: SMH Atlassian work anywhere policy {reference 1} . Scott Farquhar is critical of hybrid working “I think a lot of companies that are just doing it two days a week, they’re going to really struggle because they are not going to attract or retain talent, and I think they’ll end up going back to the old way because it’s inertia”
58:35 NZ firm in 2018 that started a 4-day work week but kept employee’s salaries as though they were still working 5 days {reference 8}
59:45 Similarly a lot of the information shared around remote work being productive is based on the employee’s perspective
1:02:00 Advice for companies struggling with hybrid work right now as they are overwhelmed by various options. 1. Invest in your leaders as they have a much bigger job to do now with hybrid work. 2. Work on the physical office space to accommodate for noise, collaboration spaces etc. 3. Consider where you want to work when your lease is up (do you need to be in the CBD?) 4. Match your “how we work” strategy to your business strategy
1:06:00 A lot of managers and leaders know people and culture is important, but how much time should you spend on it as a business owner?
1:07:25 Book: Intelligent fanatics – business owners who have built long lasting businesses through their belief that their people are their success {reference 9}

References

1 https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/population/regional-internal-migration-estimates-provisional/sep-2020#:~:text=Data%20downloads-,Key%20statistics,quarterly%20net%20loss%20on%20record.
2 https://www.abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/wages-rose-06-march-quarter-2021#:~:text=The%20seasonally%20adjusted%20Wage%20Price,Bureau%20of%20Statistics%20(ABS).
3 https://distributed.blog/2019/07/11/upwork-hr-engineering-distributed-company/
4 https://theconversation.com/2021-is-the-year-australias-international-student-crisis-really-bites-153180#:~:text=In%202019%2C%20the%20ABS%20estimates,spent%20in%20the%20wider%20economy.
5 https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/deliveroo-loses-landmark-case-as-sacked-driver-ruled-an-employee-20210518-p57suc.html
6 https://www.smh.com.au/national/you-re-not-just-a-robot-bringing-work-closer-to-where-people-live-20210516-p57scz.html

Episode 3 – Hybrid working the new normal?

As businesses have adapted to different work environments over the last 12 months, one that has risen to the top is the hybrid working model. The third episode of Make it Work sees Karen and Lachy discuss the newest workplace buzzword: hybrid work.

It isn’t a new concept, but more and more companies have been adopting its structure as Australia semi-returns to everyday life. Basically, hybrid work means staff work some days in the office and some days from home.

With lots to consider before choosing Hybrid work for your team, Lachy and Karen discuss which is more productive; in-office or remote, how to change the office space to foster collaboration, and the skills a leader needs to thrive in a hybrid environment.

PLUS: Lachy and Karen share their own experiences with the model and why they think it could be the future of the workplace.

Download Transcript

Published 5 July 2021

Show Notes

1:10 Definition of hybrid work
1:45 Atlassian concerned about workers being burnt out by hybrid work {reference 1}
2:30 Is it still hybrid work when you are mandating days to work from an office or is that office work with flexibility?
4:20 Hybrid work is when an employee is in the office at least once per week
4:50 Are companies moving to hybrid work because they have an office space to use or because they think it is the best way to work?
6:45 Is our experience of hybrid right now different to what it could be, because we moved into it so fast?
07:20 “Zoom fatigue” – it hasn’t been designed with the human brain in mind {reference 2}. A lot of effort has been put into security and making it a stable platform, but the next step needs to be human centered design to enable hybrid work
10:45 The book Good to Great talks about technology as an accelerator of existing momentum {reference 3}
11:50 Is hybrid working the most difficult? Starting with meetings with some in the office and some remote, it is easy to feel disconnected
14:15 In open plan offices if some people are in the same meeting but online because there are some people remote, what about the noise levels for the other employees in the office
15:15 Do we end up with more meeting rooms or workplace pods? {reference 4}
16:20 What’s the purpose of a meeting? What’s the purpose of an office?
18:30 Does being in the office and being remote suit different types of roles? {reference 5}
19:50 Do we use the role types to inform who works from home or in the office? How does personality impact on this? Introversion/extraversion?
22:15 Are we starting a two-class system of employees as those in the office are seen as more productive than those who are not?
23:30 Are we creating in groups and out groups? Is there a power and information asymmetry?
26:00 When is the burning platform for organisations to start to notice impacts from hybrid work?
28:30 Imagine if we could design office spaces for humans and how we work
31:10 Coworking spaces have started to show what the workplace should look like with collaboration spaces, flexibility, and enabling different senses
34:15 Offices may not need to just be for your staff. One company may have different office hubs but with other company’s staff that happen to be in the same community
37:30 You need be quite confident you have a good culture if you are going to work out of co-working spaces or invite other organisations to share your office space
39:00 How does it impact on attracting and retaining talent if you don’t have your decisions around how you want to work resolved
42:20 Barriers to entry to change jobs or start your own business are low so retention is key
42:50 The world economic forum Future of Jobs report – 5 years from now we will divide work between humans and machines roughly equally which means that as employees we have to be better at things employers can’t do as an employers we need to set the conditions to enable our employees {reference 6}
45:50 Perhaps the last 12 months will be enough to shift the mindset to stay relevant
46:30 This is the first time we’ve started to have the way we work as a business strategic objective
48:15 We have a fantastic opportunity right now to experiment and bring our staff along for the journey
49:15 We need to adapt, change our mindset and engage greater stakeholder groups
50:50 Article: Business Insider article where the CEOs of Slack, Zoom and Atlassian outline their concerns over working from home {reference 7}
52:00 Slack’s CEO’s concern over new hires “I do sometimes worry that we’re running on the stored fat, or the accumulated social capital that had accrued over the course of the years prior.”
53:00 How we hire will change as we now have more knowledge of our working environment changing
55:00 We used to always talk about visible leadership. Is that still seen as important? Does remote working change what we think effective leadership is?
55:50 Article: SMH Atlassian work anywhere policy {reference 1} . Scott Farquhar is critical of hybrid working “I think a lot of companies that are just doing it two days a week, they’re going to really struggle because they are not going to attract or retain talent, and I think they’ll end up going back to the old way because it’s inertia”
58:35 NZ firm in 2018 that started a 4-day work week but kept employee’s salaries as though they were still working 5 days {reference 8}
59:45 Similarly a lot of the information shared around remote work being productive is based on the employee’s perspective
1:02:00 Advice for companies struggling with hybrid work right now as they are overwhelmed by various options. 1. Invest in your leaders as they have a much bigger job to do now with hybrid work. 2. Work on the physical office space to accommodate for noise, collaboration spaces etc. 3. Consider where you want to work when your lease is up (do you need to be in the CBD?) 4. Match your “how we work” strategy to your business strategy
1:06:00 A lot of managers and leaders know people and culture is important, but how much time should you spend on it as a business owner?
1:07:25 Book: Intelligent fanatics – business owners who have built long lasting businesses through their belief that their people are their success {reference 9}

References

1 https://www.smh.com.au/business/small-business/four-times-a-year-in-the-office-atlassian-goes-all-in-on-wfh-20210428-p57n4w.html
2 https://news.stanford.edu/2021/02/23/four-causes-zoom-fatigue-solutions/
3 https://www.booktopia.com.au/good-to-great-jim-collins/book/9780712676090.html?msclkid=e276c1ee6ebe14b5661ba13f17d9a704
4 Examples:
https://www.sitbackandrelax.com.au/workstations/work-pods.html
https://inapod.com.au/
https://myofficepods.com/product-category/work-pods
5 https://hbr.org/2021/03/designing-the-hybrid-office
6 https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-future-of-jobs-report-2020
7 https://www.businessinsider.com.au/atlassian-zoom-slack-future-work-hybrid-2021-4
8 https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/07/working-fewer-hours-makes-you-productive-new-zealand-trial
9 https://www.booktopia.com.au/intelligent-fanatics-project-sean-iddings/book/9780997576504.html

Episode 2 – Can leadership style influence whether a company works remote or in-office?

In the second episode of Make it Work, Karen and Lachy pick up where they left off, discussing how workplace culture reflects the leadership style of the business owner or founder. Going further, they discuss whether going back to an office, staying remote or going hybrid reflects on leadership decision making.

They also explore where leadership can influence decision-making around working remotely or in-office, including personal preferences, company culture, the industry and the product or service offered.

COVID-19 was the catalyst for this discussion, but this debate was alive well before 2020. Yahoo! ordered an end to remote work in 2013 to improve communication and collaboration, which they believed was more fruitful in person. IBM made a similar decision in 2017 for similar reasons, even after being one of the first companies to embrace remote work as early as the 1980s.

So, how can a leader ensure they’re making the right decision? Karen and Lachy get to the bottom of it, and so can you.

Download Transcript

Published 14 June 2021

Show Notes

02:10 Amazon culture and move to office centric {reference 1a,b}
03:00 If you are an extroverted leader would you prefer an office environment
04:36 A business is more than a leader
05:35 What if all of the staff have a different preference to the leader in terms of where they want to work
06:50 What happens if leader sells the business or resigns with the workplace
07:36 Yahoo in 2013 ordered an end to remote work to improve communication and collaboration {reference 2}
09:00 How can businesses say they can work remotely forever (e.g. Twitter) {reference 3}
10:30 Have headlines made businesses feel judged for working from the office full time again
11:50 Office working may appeal more for professional services, creative workers and those earlier in their career
14:11 The last 12 months is not a good example of what remote work can be as many businesses were forced into it
16:00 Using the situational leadership model, are the Directors more likely to return to the office?
17:45 Investment banks. JPMorgan returns to the office as the CEO is concerned about the impacts to culture {reference 4a, 4b}
18:44 Going in to remote work puts a lot more work, and intention on the leaders of the organisation to build a positive culture
19:20 What a remote leader needs to effectively lead people
21:40 Your HR Manager doesn’t manage your people for you
24:00 Are organisations pointing to culture when it is actually that leaders haven’t been invested in over time
25:25 How does a command-and-control type of leader bring in a new person in a remote environment
26:00 Mindset is essential to remote leaders
26:45 What happens when you have some workers in an office that start working remotely and others work in the field
27:40 Our Industrial Relations system doesn’t cope well with the idea of remote work
30:45 Every business has an “us and them” so do you exacerbate that with the perceived privilege of some workers being at home
32:00 Using tracking or productivity software as businesses forced into remote work
35:30 Praising workers for doing extra hours– what message does that give to the team
36:50 Will people start to vote with their feet as they want to keep working remotely
38:00 Change programs when people left the office to work from home in 2020, is that support happening when people are directed to return to the office?
39:30 It is a candidate market across lots of different industries
41:15 Do candidates prefer applying for roles knowing it is a fully remote workplace?
43:25 Principles of a focus on trust, communication and communicating with context which contribute to a healthy culture
44:00 Your way of working should be part of your business strategy
47:45 Article: New agile forms of leadership {reference 5}
51:40 Humans haven’t really changed for thousands of years, but what has changed is our environment
54:30 Article: Creating psychological safety when not in physical proximity {reference 6}
56:30 Is it harder to innovate remotely?
57:00 Remote workers need higher levels of writing skills as they have mostly asynchronous communication
58:00 How do you hire “self-starters” that can suit a remote environment?
1:03:00 What happens when the manager style is completely different to their team members? How do they work effectively remotely?
1:05:00 Importance of setting expectations of how as a team we work together remotely
1:06:20 Remote work needs a lot of planning and deliberation
1:07:58 Lachy describes his leadership style (as awesome!)
1:10:15 How do you advise a business leader who wants to be in the office, but the team members don’t want to be
1:12:50 Don’t do anything in business that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the paper (the newspaper test) {reference 7}

References

1a https://www.cbsnews.com/news/amazon-return-to-office-covid-19-pandemic/
1b https://www.smh.com.au/technology/inside-amazons-brutal-corporate-culture-20150816-gizyp0.html
2 https://money.cnn.com/2013/02/25/technology/yahoo-work-from-home/index.html
3 https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/12/tech/twitter-work-from-home-forever/index.html
4a https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2021/04/28/jp-morgan-requires-employees-to-return-to-their-offices-by-july-striking-a-blow-to-the-remote-work-trend/
4b https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-14/wall-street-s-return-to-office-divide-laid-bare-by-goldman-citi
5 https://www.zdnet.com/article/finding-remote-work-a-struggle-heres-how-to-get-your-team-back-on-track/
6 https://whenihavetime.com/2020/07/09/10-leadership-lessons-from-10-years-working-remotely/
7 https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/10/billionaire-warren-buffett-use-this-simple-test-when-making-tough-decisions.html

Episode 1 – How to manage workplace culture whether you WFH, in-office, or use a hybrid model

In the very first episode of Make it Work, Karen, founder of Amplify HR, and Lachy, co-founder of Yarno, discuss all things workplace culture. Uncovering popular opinions, they dive into how team culture changes from the office to a remote environment, what healthy and unhealthy workplace cultures look like, and where the responsibility for leading the culture falls.

They also discuss tips for being more intentional when building and maintaining workplace culture, why Lachy’s business went fully remote in 2020, and what Yarno’s experience has been like with hybrid work.

BONUS: Karen and Lachy fire off questions to each other on work, life and must-read articles that highlight different perspectives on workplace culture.

Download Transcript

Published 14 June 2021

Show Notes

00:46 Definition of culture
09:00 Who is responsible for culture
10:40 Importance of communication
11:02 Culture isn’t fixed, and it keeps changing
13:07 Building trust – you can’t demand it – it builds over time in small moments you wouldn’t expect
14:20 Monkey story and impact on culture {Reference 1}
16: 15 Tradition is peer pressure from dead people
17:04 Giving and receive feedback – need to be trained in how to do it. Assume positive intent
18:50 Feedback ratio of five positive to one negative {Reference 2a,b,c}
19:30 People hate performance reviews because we aren’t training people in mindset. We need to train positive intent, positive feedback  and being skilled in how to give feedback
21:55 There is a cost of doing nothing. There is a cost to status quo.
22:28 To make change there has to be an investment of time
25:20 Speculate on why remote working is more prevalent for tech companies
26:20 Going remote – being intentional about how do we do our best work? We can’t just replicate an office
35:55 What is the purpose of the office? Does it include having unstructured interactions in the structure of the office?
43:10 Hiring great people is very hard – candidate expectations have shifted and they are asking for flexibility and work from home options.
45:23 How many people will quit because they are forced back to work in an office?
46:48 Trying to have a rigid rule about x days per week in the office for benefits that are quite flexible and organic such as collaboration and social learning
48:26 Unintended consequences for hybrid models – tiered employees for those in the office versus at home
50:10 Does working from home in hybrid models negatively impact and exacerbate the gender pay gap as women aren’t in the office as much due to caring responsibilities
51:50 This is the ongoing way our communities need to live and work so it needs attention
52:06 Antifragile – we are good at creating fragile systems with small margins of error {reference 3}
53:00 How do we look at how we connect and add work onto that rather than modifying our life to suit work
53:50 Article : Microhubs by Sebastian David Lees {reference 4}
57: 19 Article : Irish pubs could become work hubs in post-pandemic plan – BBC {reference 5}
1:01:06 Advice for a new growing business on what type of working environment they should create for their staff

References

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/games-primates-play/201203/what-monkeys-can-teach-us-about-human-behavior-facts-fiction
2a https://www.amazon.com/What-Predicts-Divorce-Relationship-Processes/dp/0805814027/
2b https://www.amazon.com/How-Full-Your-Bucket-Rath/dp/1595620036/r
2c https://hbr.org/2013/03/the-ideal-praise-to-criticism
3 https://www.amazon.com.au/Antifragile-Things-That-Gain-Disorder/dp/0812979680
4 https://www.sebs.website/micro-hubs-are-the-future-of-working/
Listen to Make it Work Series 2 Episodes