#wtrends liveblog 4: Protocolics Anonymous

Did anyone mention wellbeing? Nicola Gillen is looking at a holistic approach. That’s lots of stuff at the same time that adds up to more than if you added it up. Interestingly we’re hearing resilience for the first time today, but as so often through the event we’ve been dished up an isolated idea. We’re hearing some case studies from AECOM clients that we can’t talk about, but the general idea is that wellbeing can be improved by doing certain things in the office – healthy food, light levels, planting, choice of spaces. Yep, we’re all there.

There is a quote about having a best friend at work helping to create a strong connection with their company, by some fifty percentage points to ten for those without. Unsurprisingly there are no suggestions as to how to promote this, or what policies come into effect when it moves beyond. And at last, some #generationblah has arrived, in the shape of what millennials want. Never have we created such an overblown myth, yet it perpetuates and its dangerous.

When AECOM turned the cameras on themselves and ran a project in their own workspace, they spent six months on behaviour training and protocol workshops. I’m not sure that these do anything other than force change, requiring that it is managed, highlighting that the environment is not intuitive. It pre-supposes resistance, and is problem-oriented. It is a significant frontier in workplace change facilitation and needs more focus, because we’re trying to enliven flexible workspace with outdated techniques. We’ve become protocolics. Our neighbourliness is innate, and can be activated. We’re naturally excellent to one another, lets use that as a starting point rather than an end game.

Mike Adams sees himself as a video conferencing evangelist. He’s probably not run a 4am conference call with colleagues in Australia while in in his dressing gown. He’s probably not sat with his head in his hands (metaphorically of course) when the wireless connection mysteriously fails between laptop and AV in the meeting room for the key presentation. We’re actually walking through his showroom, where everything is elegant and beautiful, where everything works seamlessly, and there aren’t any cables in a tangled lump. It’s a fantasy world of stress-free stock photography, and the inevitable reference to Minority Report. A slightly odd way to end the formal day, and a little too much of a “how can we help you?” of pitch. Of course what all this means is we can look forward to a lot more meetings. Yay.

Speakers – my respect, you were up there, we weren’t. We’re clearly drawing in on some core themes around improving the wellbeing of those who dwell in the workplaces we create. My plea, and not a new one, is for simplicity and clarity. The work continues.


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