People and Places : Senses and Spaces

Some initial thoughts on the recently announced collaboration between BIFM and CIPD

We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us. Winston Churchill

This week I learned of a collaboration between BIFM and the CIPD. Although in its very early days, the potential in this match up interests me. The plan is for the two organisations to collaborate on ‘a number of research and insight projects that will investigate how both communities of professionals are evolving and adapting to the changing workplace.’ So long as that work feeds quickly through into action and doesn’t become just another talking shop (lest we forget I still wear the scars of being heavily involved in Engage for Success, I know how underwhelming these well meaning get togethers can be), then I look forward to being of some use to this initiative. Here are a couple of interactions I was involved with on Twitter as the news emerged.

BIFM CIPD Collaboration Tweets Two BIFM CIPD Collaboration Tweets One

Good architecture is often invisible, but it allows whatever is happening in that space to be the best experience possible. Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Peter Cheese said he’d like my thoughts on this matter, so I’d like to follow up on his tweeted observation about making good practice common practice, by sharing a few examples of where I believe these connections are already being made. I’d also be really interested to learn of other examples you’ve seen too, please? Feel free to drop me a line via the comments on the blog.

Neil Usher

Neil is for me, a great example of people and place personified. I don’t mean he looks like an office block, but he gets this important connection. I first met Neil at ConnectingHR a few years ago and he is regularly blogging, thinking and working at the crossroads between people and places : senses and spaces. Neil twists the two marshmallow strands of people and place together into an almost perfectly formed Flump. Here’s a recent, excellent post of his about how to help people and places work better.

Social Capital in the Workplace

In january 2014 I was fortunate to be asked by Mark Catchlove (another great example of someone who ‘gets’ this and is doing good work in the people and places space) of Herman Miller, to facilitate a consultation on Social Capital in the Workplace at St George’s House within the walls of Windsor Castle. This was a fascinating conversation among a mix of people across a wide range of industries and disciplines. We talked about people and places, senses and spaces. A detailed report of the conversation has been published here. The same group is reconvening again very soon to share our experiences since the initial conversation in January. What have we learned, what have we done? Doubtless more to follow.

In a city the atmosphere is all around you and is ever changing. New things will become old things…Time is a great architect. Alvaro Siza

People Property and CSR

I previously worked with a client in a financial services firm. She was the Director of People, Property and CSR and did a great job of coordinating these important, related activities. This person would always consider the people aspects of property moves and changes, and vice versa. Breaking down silos was a hobby of hers, and walls would regularly be knocked down and moved as attempts were made to foster a more collaborative way of working. And she would regularly invite contributions and criticism from colleagues around the business related to planned work. Why wouldn’t she – after all, getting this stuff right was the responsibility of her and her team!

Sensing Spaces

In February I wrote a blog post titled Mood Lighting. It was about a trip I took with Mervyn Dinnen to visit the Sensing Spaces exhibition at the Royal Academy. After our visit, as we spoke about the exhibition, Mervyn told me that one of the biggest impacts he observed while walking around, was how the mood of our conversation altered depending on the space we occupied. This exhibition was an enjoyable and interesting look at the impact space has on your senses. If the art world can explore the possibilities, then why can’t more of us in business do likewise?

Allowing room for the visitor’s imagination is essential if a space is to become a satisfying physical experience. Li Xiaodong

I’d like to wish good luck to the bridge builders at BIFM and CIPD. I have a slight reservation about building bridges, and that is that when we do this, the bridges typically connect one place to another. For this collaboration to work, I expect it will need to connect many people to many people, and many spaces to many spaces. For me, these connections already exist. They may not yet be strong enough, and there may not be enough of them, but they are out there.

People and Places : Sensing Spaces.

Here’s a related post about next steps, just published by Simon Heath.

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

7 thoughts on “People and Places : Senses and Spaces”

  1. Doug, you know I am envious of the many interesting things you get involved with and I read your blogs etc so not surprisingly I read this.

    I get the well meaning but often under-delivered intent involved with many of these “exciting” HR’y initiatives and maybe I am a little cynical, but I would like to offer two observations.

    The first is like light can affect moods (your friend’s comment above) so words can affect actions. That people are referring to bridges implies that the two ends stay locked in place, with only a few travelling between them. In this transforming world I would suggest that the ambition should be to move the ends. To this end I would drop the term bridge in favour of something like co-locate. Too much?

    The second is maybe a bigger stretch in suggesting that people and place is dealing with yesterday and today, but not tomorrow. An increasing number of people have no fixed association with working space, but work between companies, between geographic locations, between functional groups. Their anchor if you like is their technology (phone, tablet, and cloud). This is the arena your friends should be pushing else they are really playing catch up and events and the players involved may take the initiative from them.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Hello Ian – the speed at which you process information never ceases to amaze me, thanks for being in touch so quickly.

      Co-locating or similar sounds like an interesting idea. Certainly a high degree of openness will help, and knowing some of the people involved I expect that to manifest itself. The language is very important in helping set the mood and tone.

      Technology is doubtless a part of the now and tomorrow mix, and as Neil Usher suggests in his latest blog which I’ve linked to, coworking is on the rise too. I think a lot of us want to be with others, we are just increasingly less fussed where that happens.

      Cheers – Doug

  2. Hi Doug
    Getting to an outcome is really important to me I would not have got involved otherwise.
    It would be good to harness the lessons learned from Engage for Sucess.
    On bridges I can see Ian’s point my take is building bridges of understanding, Neil is a prime example of somebody who can articulate both perspectives – we are however small in number. We need IMHO go use simple metaphors to recruit, excite and seek engagement across the board

    1. Hi Chris, thanks for being in touch. What follows is just me thinking out loud…it’s off the cuff.

      This blog is littered with posts relating to my experiences with Engage for Success as it became known.

      Having pulled these posts together (this isn’t all of them!) I am reminded that at the time of writing – the subject provoked a lot of debate and exchange, on here at least. There’s a lot to plough through here and if you can find the time, I hope this collection will give you a sense of what has gone on in Engage for Success. I’d look elsewhere too if I were you, for although I tried really hard to be open and even handed, these posts are all written from my point of view. For me – the last one has real power. After all of Engage for Success’ endeavours, a recent survey showed that four out of five people hadn’t heard of the term ’employee engagement’. The movement’s co founder can’t explain what employee engagement is – even when she is in front of the Queen accepting an honour for services to it. The words echo chamber, in relation to the movement, spring painfully to mind.

      There are inherent challenges with seeking engagement across the board as I see it:

      1 – You get nothing done
      2 – You get something done and it so bland and tasteless it satisfies no one
      3 – It scales, and it sucks. In The Year Without Pants, Scott Berkun asks many great questions about the future of work. Here are just two. “What good is something that scales well if it sucks?” And, “Why is size the ultimate goal or even a goal at all?”

      Getting open quickly is important – I think. I’m reading lots about ‘working out loud’, and whilst the phrase may be flavour of the month, I think the concept has a lot going for it 🙂

      Lots to ponder. Have a lovely weekend and catch up soon.

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