Workplace United

As of today a new grouping representing Workplace as a discipline is born: Workplace United.To paraphrase the Clash, it wasn’t born, as much as it fell out.

Its not an organisation, a society, an association, or any other form of traditionally protective, sectional or elitist collective. Its not under threat or siege. Its not after the contents of your wallet. It is based on action, not contemplation.

Ironically I sketched it out on the inside back cover of the BIFM/CIPD Workplace Conversation report, which rendered a use for it that had so far been elusive.

Workplace United

Why? Because –

  • Existing organisations do not represent Workplace, despite unsubstantiated claims to the contrary, and its voguish appeal as a route to credibility
  • We have sufficient knowledge and resources at this point in time that could improve the workplace for millions of people – more would be great, but we don’t need more to be getting on with it
  • Creating a great workplace isn’t difficult, and any concerns that it might be should not be a reason for inactivity
  • In order to improve the workplace for as many people as possible, there is a need to promote Workplace as a discipline – and proudly, a composite discipline
  • We need to clear our thinking – not expand it – as a foundation for action
  • All attempted initiatives in the area to date have been focussed on talking and prevaricating, rather than getting anything useful done – because saying “something needs to be done” its easier than doing anything
  • There is no place for myth in Workplace
  • Creating a great workplace is an emotional thing, so tears are OK

Principles: Workplace United believes in a few things, like –

  • Space matters – to us all
  • Everyone deserves a great workplace
  • What we do is simple, accessible and understandable
  • Action trumps conversation
  • Maximum benefit can be obtained from investment in a number of basic, simple Workplace features and amenities, after which diminishing returns apply – the central idea of the #elementalworkplace
  • A great workplace can help an organisation be positive and productive, but won’t fix a rotten culture (and shouldn’t be expected to)
  • We can’t seriously talk about workplace wellbeing if we don’t get off our arses

Practical: How do we do this? Workplace United:

  • Is an open source group – with no barriers to entry, and no boundaries
  • Has one form of belonging – you’re in (by declaration) – or you’re not
  • Requests a membership donation because we all need to have a stake, but operates at as low a cost as possible – not for profit, ever
  • Spends a minimum amount on funding the organisation and administration
  • Is based on interest and contribution – you’re keen to do something to make a difference
  • Is a direct democracy, whenever it needs to make a key decision – it has no traditional management or committee structure
  • Researches only where it aids clarity, not when it serves itself or seeks intellectual kudos
  • Is without affiliations – as its open to all, it is already affiliated, and promotes dialogue with anyone interested
  • Opens its IP to all because everyone deserves a fantastic workplace
  • Requests (firmly) no selling, product or service placement
  • Has no logo or marketing other than for letting people know what its going to do and what its done (if you want a mug or tee shirt, please feel free to make your own)
  • Will be happy to admit if it gets stuff wrong
  • Has no AGM, no certificates, exams or qualifications
  • Has no conference (or unconference) – social media is our conference, and it’s a gift economy – we help one another because we want to
  • When meeting f2f, it will be for the purpose of planning action (unless its decreed a social – important too)

Some of the above may not be best stated, or correct. However, discussing the finer points for the next two decades (not so far-fetched – some organisations have been discussing them for the last two) wont be a reason not to get started.

I intend to give this my best shot, but if others wish to get involved and do more than me, I’m equally okay with that. Just as long as it happens, and no-one tries to take control. If it takes off, if it works, if it makes a difference, then we really will have changed everything.

Its got to be worth a go.


3 thoughts on “Workplace United

  1. Neil – very interesting indeed. Not sure if I agree on the formation diagram – that caused a lot of debate in the office – but will definitely support the concept and be involved – great idea.

  2. Agreed an interesting idea. The football line up approach is tough though very interesting that you had Health & Safety, Finance and Legal as defence, which was very interesting as these often seem to be the players that are the most resistant. Security at center half? Well that is an odd one. As David said, love the idea of Workplace United, though there again should it be Workplace City as we the modern workplace is really a microcosm of the city. Enough said, very interesting idea and look forward to supporting it.

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