Tag Archives: workplace

Noise Annoys

I often hear noise being described as ‘unwanted sound’. As someone who grew up listening to a lot of punk music, I’m not sure it’s quite as simple as that. Sitting upstairs in my bedroom, I was frequently yelled at to turn off the noise noise noise, stop kicking up a racket, etc. This stuff wasn’t (and still isn’t) unwanted to me, and I readily accept it’s not everyone’s idea of good music.

Fortunately for you – I usually enjoy my music when I’m working alone, or with headphones on – so it needn’t trouble you, but what about the noise that’s not so easy to avoid? How does that affect you, particularly when you’re trying to work?

I met Paige Hodsman at the Workplace Trends conference last year. Paige works for Ecophon who specialise in acoustic solutions to improve the working environment, and we got to talking about how noise and sound affects your ability to be creative at work. After the event our conversation continued, and continued, until we decided to offer up an interactive workshop for people, to explore and experience how changes in the environment affect our ability and desire to be creative. That workshop is called The Art of Sound, and it takes place in Central London on June 7th. Would you like to come and take part? You can book a place here. It won’t cost you any money, and we’ll provide lunch and all the materials you’ll need. It would be lovely to see you.

Purely by chance, since Paige and I decided to run this session, I have come into contact with Chris Moriarty from Leesman, a company which gathers and shares all kinds of interesting data to help people understand their workplace performance. Chris has kindly shared some data with me which shows the extent to which people are concerned by noise at work, and how it impacts creative thinking and a host of other things besides. I’ve not had the data for long, and I can already see that of the 160,000 people who have currently responded to the Leesman Index survey, just over three quarters of them indicate that noise levels at work are important to them.

On average across the Index only 55.8% of people agree that the workplace enables them to be productive. However, when you look at those that have indicated that noise levels are important and they are happy with them, you see that number rise to 82.2% against those that are dissatisfied with noise down at 32.7%. A 49.5 percentage points difference.
Noise is also impacting enjoyment, this time there’s a 37.8 percentage points difference (78.2% satisfied vs 40.3% dissatisfied). These are big gaps. If we are to improve the workplace and make it more conducive to creative, and enjoyable working, then understanding this stuff is important, for people in workplace design and implementation, and for HR people too.

I can also see that noise is affecting many of the tasks we need to perform at work, and I’ll keep digging through what Chris has provided and share some more details at the event on June 7th. I hope to see you there, and until then, I’ll leave you with The Buzzcocks doing what they do best.

People and Places : Senses and Spaces

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.

Stop Doing Dumb Things – Available Here

Stop Doing Dumb Things is a deck of cards containing 48 thoughts and ideas designed to help you unlock creativity and make work better. To make it work you simply shuffle the deck, draw a card, then act on it or ignore it.

A set of cards costs just £20 plus £5 P&P and £5 VAT, a total of £30. £2 from the sale of every pack of Stop Doing Dumb Things is donated to the Arts Emergency charity.

Stop Doing Dumb Things is designed by Doug Shaw and inspired by many people, including Joe Gerstandt, Carole Shaw, Meg Peppin, Joe Strummer, Heather Bussing, David Zinger, Keira Shaw, William Tincup and John Sumser.

To order your cards, either visit the Paypal website and send the money using the email address doug[dot]shaw[at]wgalimited[dot]com, or contact me via the same email address with your order and I’ll send you an electronic invoice. In both cases, don’t forget to include a postal address. Cards will be shipped on receipt of cleared funds.

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How Are People Using Stop Doing Dumb Things?

Stop Doing Dumb Things was first designed as an antidote for people who get stuck in their work. Whether it’s writing a research paper, a sales proposal, an HR guide or a presentation – people often need a nudge when their thinking starts to go round in circles. And because of the way many of us work – getting stuck happens often. This also happens when we’re working in teams. For example, team meetings often fail to yield the desired results because people form and follow patterns that, as they repeat and reinforce, tend to exclude more creative, diverse thinking. In those environments – the cards are designed to break the circle by offering an alternative viewpoint, or a suggested action to take.

Since their launch in September 2013 Stop Doing Dumb Things are selling all over the world, to individuals and teams in the UK, Europe, USA, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. These are some of the many things people say they use the cards for:

Coaching
Getting unstuck
Trying something different
Adaptability
Exchanging ideas
Why not? (The intention is to make acting on the cards a voluntary process. So when people draw a card and don’t wish to act on it – what’s stopping them? This discussion yields interesting results about the way people work together).

People also use them a lot to support exploratory work around creativity and collaboration. The cards are a great aid to problem solving, getting to know one another better, changing perspectives – all kinds of things that people need, and often forget.

Stop Doing Dumb Things are a simple, helpful tool to help make change happen, and to underpin the idea that small things can make a big difference.

Stop Doing Dumb Things