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  • Writer's pictureAndy Goram

The Human-Centric Workplace

Updated: Nov 11, 2022

What does it take to construct a place of work where people love to be and are enabled to bring their best selves and do their very best work, every day, willingly?

There's lots of talk about the future of the workplace. One day hybrid is the new black, the next day we're all going back to 5-days-a-week in the office. Who knows what the reality will be?

One thing that's for sure is that a one-size-fits-all approach isn't going to work, and I suspect those organisations that listen to their people, and have a clear understanding of the purpose of their work and what the office is for, will do better than the rest.

My guest on episode 53 of the employee engagement podcast, which also looks at workplace culture and human leadership, Sticky From The Inside, is Simone Fenton-Jarvis, a Facilities Maintenance expert and author of the book "The Human-Centric Workplace". In this episode, Simone passionately shares her views on the future of the workplace, and the impact this has on the people that work there, the wider community and the planet we inhabit.

Below is a full transcript of the conversation, but you can also listen to it here.

Two people discussing how employee engagement is affected by the physical environment we work in
Simone Fenton-Jarvis (left) and Andy Goram (right) discuss what it takes to build a human-centric workplace

00:00:10 Andy Goram

Hello, and welcome to sticky from the inside. The Employee Engagement podcast that looks at how to build stickier competition-smashing, consistently successful organisations from the inside out. I'm your host Andy Goram and I'm on a mission to help more businesses turn their lights on behind the eyes of their employees, light the fires within them and create tons more success for everyone.

This podcast is for all those who believe that's something worth going after and would like a little help and guidance in achieving that. Each episode we dive into the topics that can help create what I call stickier businesses, the sort of businesses where people thrive and love to work and where more customers stay with you and recommend you to others because they love what you do and why you do it.

So, if you want to take the tricky out of being sticky, listen on.

00:01:10 Andy Goram

OK, then. Now we have talked about the need for better human skills and leadership over the course of the first 50 or so episodes of this podcast. Now we've talked about the way we can engage, support and stretch our people in a commercial and compassionate sense as we face into the changing workscape. What we haven't really spoken about in much detail, is how the physical environment plays its part in that, and I'm not just talking about how you set your office up and people up for working in a hybrid. I'm talking about how to truly create human centric workplaces, where we can all do our best work, where also we're aware of the impact that we're having on the communities in which we work and the planet that we currently inhabit.

It's the coming together, if you like, of context, leadership, positioning and the physical space at work. Now the physical space of work is not a subject I’m anything like an expert on. My time spent with property and facilities people over my career, normally centred around the deployment of a brand and a desired customer experience that I wanted delivered in one of our venues, and how the design and the fixtures and fittings all fulfilled that.

The good thing today is that I'm joined by someone who is an expert in that sense and also has a clear connection between where we work, why we work and how that should be led to best effect. I'm joined by Simone Fenton-Jarvis, who among many other things is a Facilities Management professional, a podcaster, a speaker, and author of the recent book, The Human Centric Workplace. Now Simone focuses on how to combine culture, space, process and technology to deliver successful, meaningful change and business improvements, so I'm really interested to hear more about how today's workplace is changing, why we need to strive for better, and how we can do better. And the effect that's going to have on our people, communities, and the planet.

Welcome to the show, Simone!

00:03:11 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Thank you. Thanks for having me.

00:03:13 Andy Goram

Lovely to have you. I've been looking at your stuff for a while now and and listening to what you've got to say, and now people can read about what you've got to say, which is fantastic and hopefully we can dig into quite a bit of that with our time together today. But before we get going, I've given quite a clumsy intro to you and what you do, why don't you just give us a flavour of who you are and what you're up to right now and what's really taking your focus at the moment.

00:03:37 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Yeah, sure, I'm, you know, I guess you know my background, I would say is in Facilities Management. As my career progressed, I headed more into the workplace. So wasn't necessarily just about, I’m going to say the building, but more looking at the people, the technology, so the whole workplace and as my careers kind of progressed, I've gone from occupier side to the dark side of consultancy. And yeah, I think, you know, it's been eye-opening to see both sides. But I think the thing that I wanted to do when I went over to consultancy was, all of them, things that used to irritate me about when I was an occupier about consultants coming in, I was trying to fix that. So as a consultant there's certain things that I do and don't do. And yeah, I think that's been... that's what’s kind of, I guess driven me to this point. And I also wrote a book during lockdown, which was a strange and awesome experience, all in one. Yeah it was testing but great at the same time. And then, yeah, spent the last half a year really promo’ing that.

Obviously, I've got a full-time job where I work for a company called Relogix. A Canadian company, where essentially, I’m working with organisations on what data exists in their organisation and how can we drive a better employee experience? You know, better design of the space. Better, more sustainable, just different, different things. It depends on what the data is telling us. So yeah, it's been a fun and crazy whirlwind of a year, really.

00:05:18 Andy Goram

Amazing! And as somebody who has literally just finished penning a single chapter for a book collaboration, I take my hat off to you for writing a whole book. I mean, just a single chapter was tough enough. Especially Editor's comments. I mean, I'm quite a fragile individual. They're brutal those people.

00:05:39 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

You know what? I felt the same. So when I first put the draught in, I had this moment of like., “Oh, this is the first time that anybody has read the book start to finish, and it's their job to like pull it apart.” And I remember when I got my draft back with the edits on it, and it said something like 5000 edits and comments. And I just put my head in my hands and was like,

Oh my God! Where do I start with this?”

And, you know what? To my utter relief, a lot of the comments and I'm saying probably about 4800 of them were related to just Americanising the language.

00:06:14 Andy Goram


00:06:15 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

So lots of “z’s” and “o’s” and “u’s” removed. And you know, it was just... so I was a little relieved it wasn't just 5000 hard comments about what I've written, so... (laughs)

00:06:25 Andy Goram

Yeah, I mean I, gosh! What would you do with that?

I mean, let's dig into this a little bit though, right? So, the book. Tell me where did it come from? What was the inspiration? It's not just another banana bread alternative for a lockdown, right? There must be something... that's clearly from the way you describe what you do and your journey you’re on that's really driven the need to write this book, so tell me about that.

00:06:50 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Yeah, sure, I mean, I guess my interest in the kind of human centric, where initially started was people centric, and that kind of world. It was probably really in my Chief Workplace Officer role a few years back. And I remember writing my annual strategy about how to create a people centric workplace and that was really driven by the values of the company, the challenges that we had, not just in the company, but more on a macro level as well. My experiences, the stories that my friends were telling me at other companies as well and my network, and it was like "We need to do better for each other.” And I think this is where the the drive was really for me.

00:07:35 Andy Goram

Was there a particular moment or thing that happened, that was the real catalyst for actually starting? Staring at that first blank piece of paper and writing some words?

00:07:51 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

My journey’s a bit back to front actually. Because the publisher actually reached out to me and said

We've been following you for a while and we like what you do. We like your blogs. Would you be interested in writing a book?”

So I usually would write a proposal, or at least start the book and then send it to publishers. So mine was a bit back to front. I signed the contract and then sat down and went, “Right. Now I need to write this book.” And that was an awful moment thinking, “It was easy to put my signature on it, but now I’ve got to actually do it.”

But, yeah, I think yeah. I think the kind of the topic really was, what's my passion. And it was... I've just worked with way too many companies that don't put people first and suffer the consequences of doing that.

00:08:39 Andy Goram

I think what's really interesting from your perspective is, as I sort of mentioned in the intro, you know, we talk a lot on this podcast about human leadership, right? And we use the term human leadership 'cause I hate soft skills, I think that's just a rubbish phrase, right? But your perspective, from somebody who started at least, and still focuses on the whole facilities part of the building, the place of work and the crucial role that that plays. Not in isolation but in harmony with the other things is really interesting, right? It's really separate. So when we get into that structure of the book, what are the sort of key messages that you want to take out? And how does your role, your perspective, from a facility piece, really sort of run through the whole context of that?

00:09:27 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Yeah, I mean I guess the Pandemic threw this into a bit of a whirlwind obviously, but I think where things started really was that, you know, within the book and Facilities Management and how that ties into human-centric bit is, I've had far too many years of people assuming that Facilities Management is about bricks and mortar. And I've always seen it as the profession that is creating a community and a place that people can do their job. And I think the bricks and the mortar is just where people go, but it's the vibe of the organisation that's always stood out to me.

And it's the... how are people seeing Facilities Management, and how are they, you know... Are they, for instance, only contacting you when something goes wrong, like let's say toilets? Always. Always happens. Air conditioning, you know, all of the obvious Facilities Management things. Is that when they only.. is that the only interaction they have with you?

Actually, I wanted to change things. So, in the organisation I was working at it was more,

How can we just create this place that people like being?”

And you know, that extended to office dogs, and you know what... Just even you know all the all the cliche things really that you look at now. But at the time it was creating a place that people loved being in. And you know, all of the debating we was getting back was every time we implemented something it was people centric, and the impact was really positive on the the kind of the well-being of people, the happiness of people, the productivity of people and we were just creating this place that was sure there was an element of Facilities Management that obviously underpinned everything. But for us it was... all that stuff just happens behind the scenes, and it was you know, that's the things that have to happen, whereas the place making was something that was like in addition to.

I think this is where the Facilities Management industry struggles because we are used to being the Ninjas that just fix things without people realising. And then they only ever see us as the people that fix things. And so, I think we really tried as a team to just drive that Brand of,

No. It's about employee experience. Facilities Management are enabling the experience.”

00:11:58 Andy Goram

Which is great right? 'Cause you can... there's a sort of metaphor in here for anybody’s role, that there's the individual role, job description, kind of things that you do, but the why behind doing what you do is crucially important. And then how you go about doing it. So, the thing I've kind of taken from watching your message, mainly on places like LinkedIn, or what have you, is that this drive to have a greater impact. And you've used the word impact before, and I think you're using it again here. Is that trying to understand the impact that you play, in the role that you've got, the impact of building and the facilities have, how you serve somebody. All these things have knock on effects, right? For how we turn up at work, the work that we do. You've mentioned things like productivity, which I'm sure we'll kind of get into.

Let me take a quick step back though, before we dig into that sort of stuff. Now in these kinds of situations, someone is trying to put something right? So you've sort of touched on it just now, but what were you trying to put right in the world of workplace, Facilities Management and all those sorts of things, from your perspective? Because there's a message in what you talk about doing better? And so, what was that thing?

00:13:26 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Yeah, and I think the thing was driven... I’m going to be honest here, initially it was probably a bit of impostor syndrome that was driving my concerns, I guess, that people only ever thought I was here to fix things. And it was, “Oh! We can do more than that!” And there was that interesting thing. But I think the thing that was going wrong, which I guess is what you're asking, was Facilities being about the bricks and the mortar. Facilities only ever getting called on when something was wrong. Getting missed out of key business, kind of, stakeholder conversations. Whether it be how is the place supporting people? How are people from a well-being point of view? You know, almost forgetting the impact the physical environment has on people? And I think too many organisations were doing that. And it was like, “No, I want to fix this.”

Facilities Management is the absolute underpinning thing to everything that happens in an organisation, you know, at that level. Because, if you've got an office and it's not how people want to use the office, it's not safe for them, it's not healthy for them. It's not got that experience. It's not got that vibe. People are not going to want to go there. And even when all of them things are right, it doesn't necessarily mean that people are going to want to go there, it just means that essentially, you know, you're there as an enabler and you're there when people choose, and I think choice isn't important one, I guess we can cover later, but it's the choice of people. And I think that's the bit hat was going wrong, in that Facilities Management should be about enabling choice. And I think for too long, organisations have used Facilities Management as like the stick to beat people with. This is where you're sitting. This is your assigned seat. This is the meeting room. You need to book it. This is the technology that you need to use. And all of the choice bit just felt like it was being removed, because it wasn't being people driven. It was about the leader of the organisation, whether it be CEO or the Head of Facilities. It was about what they wanted, rather than what the people wanted about who worked there and who the place was actually for.

00:15:45 Andy Goram

So you were doing more engagement, right? And data mining? I guess with the people actually facilitating work in that work workplace?

00:15:53 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Yeah. And it was, you know that that whole thing goes, you know, for me it was, I walk through the office and if I don't, if I don't interact with people then I've done something wrong. And I expect... if I’m going from my desk to a meeting room and back again, I would want to speak to at least 10 people on the way. Because it's, you know, essentially, Facilities should be about being that hub of the office. They’re about, you know, you're picking up the vibe of people. You know when something’s not quite right. And that could be about the space, it could be about the culture. But Facilities, are the ones that hear the stories. Feel the stories and see the impacts of what's going on in the organisation.

00:16:34 Andy Goram

If they ask the questions, right? Because I think, from what you're saying, that's not the norm, right? It's more reactive, rather than a planned, conscious, workplace design, right?

00:16:46 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Well, I think it has been. I think it's getting better. And there's some really good examples and really good leaders out there that are being more proactive. There is still, I'm gonna say, the old guard that very much see Facilities Management as the bricks and mortar, and you know, the people stuff is up to HR. But I think that is changing.

00:17:07 Andy Goram

And what have you seen as the biggest changes in the sort of I guess, solutions that you're putting together for businesses right now, Simone? What's happening?

00:17:18 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

I think technology and data, is the two things. And I guess that's not a surprise as such, but for years, you know, we've kind of had, in Facilities Management, we've had a lot of spreadsheets. We've had a lot of missing gaps in data, in information and a lot of assumptions that have had to be made. And I think what's really changing in these departments now, is they see the need for technology to enable the human experience. But then also the technology to drive the Facilities team to enable that experience. So teams are getting more and more platforms to use to drive that experience. And I think that's one thing that was definitely stood out for me. And then the data. You know there was a report a few years back by IWFM (Institute of Workplace & Facilities Management) about, I guess how behind the curve Facilities Management was when it comes to technology and data.

But I can definitely see that improving now over the last, I'm gonna say couple years since COVID. And maybe that's just the amount of the surveys that have gone out and the amount of data that we've actually collected. Maybe it's really driven everybody to really look at the answers. But I think, the thing that I talk about day in, day out, is you know, data in an organisation, you've got different forms of data. And you've got your surveys, that is, you know what are people thinking, feeling? What are their desires? You then got kind of space booking data and calendar data, which is what are people intentions. You know. How are they going to go to work that week? Where are they going to be? And then we've got the the actual data. And the actual data is, well, what actually happened on the ground? And that's where you get into like, you know, building access control systems and sensors and Wi-Fi, and you know. You’ve got to at that... I've called it Golden Triangle. Because if you're not looking at desire, intentions and actual behaviours, then you're going to miss something, and the sweet spot is obviously somewhere in the middle.

Because if we drive our workplaces off, everybody desires. That's going to be not only a hard job, but it's gonna be probably a little bit fickle as well. And if you're only driver of people behaviours, then how can you change their behaviours? So the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle, and I think that's where it's improving.

00:19:41 Andy Goram

I like that. I do like a triangle, right? Triangles are great.

Just help me understand a bit. So, I've got two sort types of question here. Firstly, do you? Are you finding that the workplace then, on the back of all this stuff, is actually being used differently now, maybe influenced over the last sort of like a handful of years? I don't know whether we're thinking about... because people attending, and this is a sweeping statement, and you please correct me, are tending to come together physically less often? Are the spaces being designed differently now to facilitate more, I don't know collaboration, innovation, those sorts of things? Or is it still the mainstay of what we have going on?

And then you've mentioned a couple of things, particularly, how is the work that you're doing really influencing engagement with the guys actually in the workplace, and facilitating The Holy Grail of increased productivity?

00:20:42 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Yeah, I guess so. You know if we go back to how our space is being used and designed today. I don't think we're at the core answer of that yet. And I don't think it's going to be an answer that is a cookie cutter across each. I think that's where the organisation needs to try and say,

What is our office for? What do our people need and want to use the office for? And how does that enable the company?”

So, I don't think it's a one-size-fits-all across.

00:21:11 Andy Goram

Are you hearing more companies ask that sort of question? Because you know that probably wasn't even a question in the past, was it? It's just, we just need a building to get everybody in.

00:21:21 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Yeah, it was about, you know we need to know that people are working 9:00 to 5:00 and have turned up. We need to know they're working. And that, you know, is where presenteeism has initially kind of come from. But I think the drive... and we've seen it in our data as well, is that you know, right at the beginning of the pandemic, and as everyone started kind of looking into the Crystal Ball of what the future looked like, there was lots of talk of ripping desks out and replacing it with collaboration spaces, 'cause people will only go to the office to collaborate. And at the time I was like, “That's not right. That's surely not. That that can't be right.” I was definitely disagreeing with what industry was saying. And a lot of it was being driven by, I guess furniture companies. And then you think, “Is there a vested interest there?” And you know, you look at all the vested interests that happen and you've got tech companies saying tech is the future. And you got real estate companies saying everybody needs to come back to the office. Everyone is going to have their own angle. But, you know, what are people truly saying and doing? And I think the thing that we have seen in data, and at Relogix we kind of measure about 40 million square feet of workplace.

00:22:30 Andy Goram

That's a fair amount.

00:22:31 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Yeah. Globally as well, as we see nice global trends and actually my colleague’s done a benchmarking report that's going to come out next week so, if anyone’s interested reach out and you can have a look at it. And you know, essentially across that space what we have seen is yes, there's been a reduction in desks that are being used, and there's definitely an increase in the amount of closed meeting rooms being used and the collaboration spaces. And I think a lot of it that's driving it, is the fact that we haven't got used to how to manage our diaries yet to how we're going to be in the office. So there's all the talk of people going to the office and

There’s nobody here. Why am I here? Might as well go home again. I'm not going back there again because the people I want to see are not there.”

So, we need that behaviour change and people obviously need to be intentional about what they're doing in the office. Who are they meeting? And of course, if tech can underpin all of that, brilliant. Because you know, it's going to streamline things.

But then there's the angle as well, of people looking at their diaries and thinking, “I'm going to go into the office”, but then being stuck on back-to-back Teams and Zoom calls all day. And again, like that, you might as well have done that from home, so you know what is the purpose of the office? Because if you wanna just go and sit in office and sit on a Teams call all day, you've kind of got yourself “What is that?” And if it is just, “I need a change of scenery. I'm sick of looking out my own bedroom window, office window or whatever”, that's fine also. But I think we need to understand the reasons behind it. And if it is that people are being told to go into an office three days a week, and stay at home two days a week, and on them three days they’re just simply thinking, “I've got to go to the office for them three days, it's not my choice and actually my diary is back-to-back with Zoom calls, therefore what is the point in me being in the office?” That's going to create some true, disgruntled employees, because they've lost a choice. They don't feel like they've got any control over where they're going and how they manage their diaries, and then they go into an office and are just sitting there on a call that they could have just done at home. And then essentially adding all the commute issues, and you know, all the hassle that comes with the commute, and the cost that comes with the commute. The time. You add all of that in at the front in the beginning and you know it's not going to lead to that great employee experience.

And I think what's become really key over the last few months for me, what’s really stood out, is the fact that people are happy to commute to an office, as long as there's a purpose or reason, and they're in control of when they do that. And I think that goes into as well, of what is the location of the office? If it's on some back street in the middle of nowhere, people are not going to want to commute an hour to get to it. If it is in the central location and it's got amenities around it, and it's something that people can think, “Oh! I've got take that shirt back to, you know, XY and Z at lunchtime, and then I'll go to the office, and I'll take that. I'll take that back. I'll take my online shopping back.” And if it's, “Actually I fancy meeting and friend after work, I'm gonna have a drink. OK, well I'm going to be in the office that day, so I can meet them in that location.” And I think it's more about that human experience from start to finish. It's about our lives. It’s the same as all the conversations that are happening at the moment around people that are taking children to school. And previously,. they would take children to school and carry on driving and go to the office. And now they're going back home, and then they're going back out to pick the children from school and it's increasing the mileage that essentially people are doing day in day out. Because it's not that one continuous journey. It’s more miles. And you think, “Right? OK, So how do we get the people to really want to drive the extra few miles to go to the office, instead of turning around and driving extra miles to just go back home?” And I think there's this pros and cons for all of it, but I think the key thing is it goes back to choice.

00:26:33 Andy Goram

Right. And so this is the bit, I guess, that's then influencing overall levels of engagement, and I know that you've got some views on how it influences productivity too? Can you just elaborate on some of that for me?

00:26:44 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Yeah, sure. If you look at actually... if you look at Gallup research, you know, the average globally is the highest, or something like 33% engaged and the lowest is 14% engaged. And the lowest is in the UK.

00:26:57 Andy Goram


00:26:59 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Yay! Great!

00:27:00 Andy Goram

Something we're winning at! Brilliant!

00:27:03 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Yeah, exactly. It's better than “Null Point” in a sense. But yeah, like when you look at that engagement, you think, “Oh? Wow, what's going wrong?” And I think I think there's a lot of macro things happening at different levels as well. But like within the workplace, I think we've still got an issue with trust. I think we've still got an issue with people, basically presenteeism. And I think we've got an issue where certain leaders are trying to control and there's mistrusting. And that is people feeling that. But I also think there's a change of... not necessarily generational, but I think there's people coming into the workplace now that are happy to push boundaries. They're happy to challenge the status quo. And I think that's driving real change. And I think when you look at engagement, the people that are, I'm going to say nearer to retirement, it's almost I get the feeling from the data and from reading between the lines and everything that I have, the people nearer to retirement are... not sitting comfy as such, but more the “I'm happy to go into the office. This is what I've always known.” Whereas the people coming into the workplace, they've just maybe had two years, let's say working virtually at University. And they've had two years, you know, sat in their bedrooms and thinking that “Actually, I should have been at University and there is upsides and downsides that.” But then they’re going into the workplace and being told they have to go to a place. And when you get into that three and two pattern that keeps happening, which was just pulled out of thin air, potentially by the media, this hybrid working model. It's not necessarily got any meaning and data behind the three and two. It feels like again, it's been something that's been driven by control and mistrust. And I think we’re still not getting it right, and that's impacting the engagement and productivity.

00:29:03 Andy Goram

And are there are guys, who you can see that are really getting it right? Particularly on the productivity front, right? Because there's always a thing in engagement where people feel like it's just a ruse to get more out of me for nothing. Which is, I guess, where the mistrusting that you mentioned, sort of comes from. It's not genuinely there to try and encourage, grow, help, support people. There's an ulterior motive that is driving everything, right? Is that what you’re seeing? But who's bucking the trend? Who's doing some really good stuff?

00:29:35 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Oh, people like Moneypenny, as an example. Everybody, you know, if you go Google Moneypenny and and look at their Wrexham office, and you look at not just the physical space of what they've created at Wrexham, because it's a great place. And you truly, when you walk in, you're like “Wow! That's a really great place to be. You feel the culture. You feel the vibe. And it's awesome. I don't work with Moneypenny. I'm not getting any backhanders there? Purely my kind of opinion of everything that I've felt when I've visited that office, and everything I've seen, and everything to talk about. And they've got a CEO that talks a great, great kinda, I was going to say “spiel” but that feels unfair. But like a great conversation about what their people mean to them. And it's truly a human centric environment that they're doing, and everything is about their people. And you feel that engagement. And people are engaged and you know, it's yeah, it's truly a great workplace. So, I think that is an organisation that people should look at, especially in the UK.

I think other people that are doing great things are people like Patagonia and John Lewis, where they've just had, you know, really awesome Missions and Values and Policies come out. And you know, there's some really good things that people are doing. And then there's also some really poor things that people are doing. And I think you know, maybe that's a bit of a subjective thing, but you know, there's still parts of the world that are saying, you know, “As of, you know, November, you are going to be back in the office five days a week.” And you think why? Why are we going back to that?

00:31:22 Andy Goram

It's still a message, isn't it? I'm still hearing this deadline sort of, day thing that's coming up. And I think this is... again plays to this position of almost expecting and squeezing out discretionary effort, versus the genuine encouragement, support in allowing people to do their very, very best work. Which you know, I'm fed up with people thinking it's just some sort of fluffy cliche. Genuinely, let's just think for a second. If you're really into what you do. If you've got all the tools you need to do it, to the best of your ability, and you've got people around you who are equally excited about doing the thing that you're doing, everything feels better. Everything comes out better, right? It's just too common sense for me, which I guess, is where you're really, really coming from.

00:32:15 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Yeah, and you know, like there's too much talk of like trying to make things sound complicated or making academic here. And yeah, I could spiel off a load of big words, and talk academic language, but is that going to get us any further forward? You know, I'm from the North, I've got in the habit of just saying how it is. Straight talking, talk to organisations going,

This is what's happening. This is what's going wrong. Let's just get to the core of it. Let's not sugar-coat things.”

You know, if we truly want to drive change, we have to be kind of bold and get to the real root cause of what's going on. And yeah, I think we've been scared of of looking under the bonnet at times and gone, “Oh! Let's just carry on as we are, because we don't know what kind of horrors we're going to find when we lift this thing over here.” But I think we need to truly move forward. Because people are disengaged at work and you know, you only have to spend, you know, 10 minutes on Instagram or Tik Tok to see how many things you come across about just silly memes about the world of work. You know the face you pull when your boss says this. You come across them instantly, you think, “Yep, this is still happening! There’s memes being made about it because this is still a thing up and down the country and across the world as well.”

00:33:35 Andy Goram

Yeah, it's interesting, isn't it? Because I genuinely think there's a generational shift. And I think the younger working generation are less likely, like you say, to put up with it. They're more vocal. I'm not entirely sure what's driving that. There may be a bit of entitlement. There may be a bit of the way they've been brought up. There may be some genuine kind of change of the status quo that needs to come. There's old Gen X's like me, who were told how to behave, and we did our very best because we didn't want to get in trouble, right? Things changing, The Great Resignation’s kind of influenced a lot of those people. And I think it's only going to get more important. And I think the need for change, to genuinely engage your people in doing their best work, is going to have to take on a wider remit.

I want to sort of tap into some other of your passions as well, Simone. Because you're very much talking about that this is bigger than the building, right? This is not about Facilities Management. It goes on. We did talk about bricks and mortar today and people, but you go further because you talk in your book about the impact that all this has on the wider community. And as far as even as the planet. So, I'd like to understand those positions from you as well. So how far reaching is this? What are the impacts? What's happening? What you're doing about it?

00:34:59 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Yeah, sure, and you can take an example of, you know, let's say person X hates their job. Isn't having a nice day. They come home from work and it's the case of, “Ughh! I'm finally at home” or they're getting the Sunday night anxiety about work on Monday morning. All of them things that has been traditionally, just part of our working life, and all of them horror stories that you hear about people hating work. Are them people leaving work feeling happy, engaged, going meeting their friends and going to the gym, doing any volunteer work? Or are they sitting at home going,

I hate my job, hate life. I'm just going to slump in front of Netflix and ordering takeaway”,

you know, I'm sure we all have days like that, but is that the norm or is it a one-off thing? That's the question there.

And then you look at the opposite thing of, if you look at, and I talk about it in my book. If you look at Kenya, as an example. They lose out on $1.1 billion every single year from companies that are not paying the right corporation tax to Kenya. OK, so coffee beans as an example. So, 1.1 billion. That's double what their healthcare budget is, and women have got a one in forty chance of dying in childbirth in Kenya. So, you look at the impact here. And obviously you could say well if people paid the right tax that country would have more money. They're going to have better health care. They're going to develop more, they're gonna... and it's like we as organisations that are not paying tax to these different countries. Or even this there's examples of companies not paying the right amount of corporation tax in the UK, so this is not just a kind of a Third World thing, you know. And I think there's a bit of a fairness, equality that needs to happen. Because when you've got CEOs, as an example,

the average FTSE 500 CEO earns the same as 10,000 people working in a garment factory in Bangladesh.

And you're like, “Well, where did this get so unequal?” Like we need to spread the love a little bit more.

And I think that's the bit that I talk about the wider planet. Because I think we’re often making decisions in organisations without truly understanding what the impact is further down the line. If you look at the growth of the FTSE 500, you know, the salaries that the owners are getting, it's grown by something like 500%. Whereas the bottom 50% that hasn't grown at all. So it’s constantly widening that gap over the years. And I think that for me, it’s the bit around the wider community. The wider impact on the planet. Because you know, even another example, I guess, is the commuting. If you look at the commuting rates pre-pandemic, commutes were increasing around 5% year on year. So, OK, So what? Why was we commuting? Well, we've just shown that actually we don't need to commute every single day, and we can work in a different way. And that's obviously impacting the planet from the climate point of view. So, there's lots of things that happened day in day out in organisations, right down to you know organisation could buy let's say milk in glass bottles or in large containers. And they choose to go and buy it in massive plastic ones, because it's cheaper and it's like, well, yeah, it's cheaper. But what's the cost of that further down line for the planet when you're using X amount of plastic bottles a week on milk for your people in your organisation? So, it's right down to that micro decision that is made of understanding what is the impact further down the line.

I think we've all got to be more conscious of the decisions that we're making day in day out to truly, you know... I'm sure you've seen everything that's come out about COP27 this week and and you know the UN is saying this is heading for absolute doom if we do not change our behaviours. And it's time we woke up to that.

00:39:18 Andy Goram

And I think this is interesting, and this is the whole point of where the book goes from talking from a position from a Facilities Management person, traditionally associated with bricks and mortar and fixing stuff, to the impact that our milk buying habit in the office has on the planet, right? This is why it's wide wide-ranging.

Simone, I have the part in the show where we get to the summary, right, it's called Sticky Notes. I'm looking for you to summarise for me, in this context of creating a truly human centric workplace, what would your three little sticky notes for advice be, that you'd leave the listeners with?

00:39:52 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Yeah, listen to people. And once you've listened, take actions. And then I think the third thing is you know, be conscious of the decisions that you're making of the wider impacts. Not just people day-to-day, but you know what happens with the community and the planet as well. And on that bigger scale.

00:40:13 Andy Goram

Brilliant, thank you very much. So unbelievably, we've run out of time.

And it's fantastic to sort of scratch the surface of really how the place of work is changing and how it's impacting so many other things, including the experience of employees and the wider planet and the communities in which we work. Thank you so much for giving me your time today. I really appreciate that. And yeah, I shall keep watching, and I hope the book sales go really well.

00:40:41 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Yeah, thank you, thanks for having me. I’ve enjoyed it.

00:40:42 Andy Goram

Thank my absolute pleasure, mate. My absolute pleasure. Thanks very much.

00:40:45 Simone Fenton-Jarvis

Cheers! Thanks a lot.

00:40:47 Andy Goram

OK everyone, that was Simone Fenton-Jarvis, and if you'd like to find out a little bit more about her, or the things we've talked about today, please check out the Show Notes.

So that concludes today's episode. I hope you've enjoyed it, found it interesting and heard something, maybe that will help you become a stickier, more successful business from the inside going forwards.

If you have, please like comment and subscribe, it really helps. I'm Andy Goram and you've been listening to the Sticky From The Inside podcast. until next time, thanks for listening.

Andy Goram is the owner of Bizjuicer, an employee engagement and workplace culture consultancy that's on a mission to help people have more fulfilling work lives. He's also the host of the Sticky From The Inside Podcast, which talks to experts on these topics from around the world.

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