The Work Experience

Inside Facebook’s new Californian headquarters

Looks like the treadmill desk has made it into the offices of Facebook HQ. I also noticed that the space has realized the central mechanism of facebook — the wall — in a physical form, with blackboards, whiteboards, and marked walls everywhere.

View the whole gallery over at SMH:…

The Work Experience

Architecture for productivity

The other day I pointed to an article on colleagues influence on absenteeism. While sorting through some old clippings I came across another article on the subject from 2008 (there was a reason for me to have kept it all this time). This time, it was about architecture and building design that contributes to a positive work environment.

For up to five hours the night air circulates through the 10-storey building, gradually cooling the wave-shaped concrete ceilings that have absorbed the heat from a day of human and computer activity. It makes sense – who doesn’t open the windows at night to cool down their house after a warm day? – but it is revolutionary for a modern commercial building.

The office floors are open plan and the lights are set at 150 luxe, compared with 350 to 400 luxe in a conventional office. While some council staff have requested stronger lighting for their work, the gentler lighting is said to have a calming effect on the behaviour of people – one council manager says he no longer feels as though he is working in a 7-Eleven supermarket.

Read the article on the project over at Green offices that slash absenteeism

See pictures of the building over at the City of Melbourne website:

Service design The internet the world

Billboard shopping comes to Australia via Sportsgirl

QR codes – they seem like a good idea, yet their implementation is often shallow and clumsy. Tesco have certainly shown what can be done with QR codes building a shopping experience at train stations in South Korea.

Now Sportsgirl are bringing the experience to Australia with a shopping billboard in Chappel Street Melbourne, as reported in today’s SMH.

Steve Ogden-Barnes, a retail industry fellow at the Deakin graduate school of business, said pop-up shops had been around for almost a decade but pop-up billboards were taking online shopping to a new level.

”An interactive billboard is a very interesting idea because it gets people to engage in the brand even though they are not in the store or at their PC,” Mr Ogden-Barnes said.

via SMH Just popping by to phone in some window shopping.

I wonder is this will prove to be a legitimate revenue raising channel or just a playful, albeit innovative, advertisement?

Product design The Work Experience

Do you have a Chief Ideas Officer?

GE launched an interesting campaign site recently on “creative innovation” with short videos including an interview with Edward de Bono who talks innovation; namely:

  • about simplification being a skill
  • about the need to make someone responsible for simplicity
  • about someone needing to be responsible for innovation  – and their remit being to connect those with ideas to those who will receive and action those ideas.

Its a short video, so spare 2 minutes to check it out.

The Work Experience

Are Australian’s too risk averse to be innovative?

In an editorial for the SMH Josie Gibson addresses the questions — just how innovative are Australian businesses, how innovative are they prepared to be or is the default state to go second and sit comfortably while others test the waters first?

What is increasingly clear is that the terms ‘‘innovation’’ and ‘‘employee engagement’’ are inherently linked. Innovation is, at its core, a leadership responsibility, and therein lies the real opportunity. Harness people’s natural curiosity and capabilities and the race is half won.

Research published last year by Harvard professor Clayton Christensen and his colleagues found that organisations regarded as high-performing by industry peers and investors actively encourage the behaviours that produce innovation. The strategy is clear and widely communicated. Responsibility and accountability are pushed down to those with direct carriage, leaving executives clear to survey the horizon. Questioning is encouraged and experimentation is the norm. Reasonable failure is not a sackable offence.

As Australians, by default, we gravitate to our comfort zone. But we have the resourcefulness, pragmatism and resilience that come from living in a harsh land far from just about anywhere perceived to matter.

Innovation is often couched in sweeping national terms – “frameworks” – or technological jargon that intimidate and divert leaders from the real task, which is to motivate their people to improve things and try new approaches.

The most thoughtful leaders I’ve met rarely mention innovation; they accept change as part of the operating environment. They constantly scan for trends and future opportunities. Their management style  provides clarity about big goals and autonomy for those under them. Their remuneration and reward structures encourage staff to collaborate, question, solve problems and strive to do well.

Today’s good leaders know that the only way to steer through uncertainty and ambiguity is to  focus on the big questions – “What might the world look like in five or 25 years, and what are the implications for us?” – instead of adopting somebody else’s stock answer, or being diverted by short-term market or political sentiment.

via Read the full article which contains links to research by GE on the subject. Via SMH — Josie Gibson, The importance of being innovative

The Work Experience

Sick and tired of absenteeism

Every so often an article appears in the newspaper citing the cost to business of dodgy sick days. What should be more concerning than the cost of sick days (apparently each one costs business $385, but isn’t this the cost of business?) is lost productivity, low employee morale and lower customer satisfaction when staff are unhappy when at work.

Earlier this month, Toyota’s chief executive in Australia admitted there are occasions – especially the day after a public holiday – when a third of his employees chuck a sickie. He blamed our industrial relations system for this epidemic and urged a change in the law. In reality, though, when an organisation has one-in-three employees calling in sick, no amount of tinkering with IR legislation is going to fix the issue.

That’s because changes in the law would only deal with the symptom. High rates of absenteeism are a signal there’s something very wrong with the way employees are engaged. An analysis by research firm Gallup, for example, revealed that disengaged employees have rates of absenteeism that are 27 per cent higher than their peers.

The article in today’s SMH does however shed some new light on the subject. Canadian professor Gary Johns from Concordia University has found that absenteeism is contagious and that teams influence one another more than their managers. He also found that those doing menial and repetitive work are far more likely to call in sick.

According to Professor Johns, research indicates that “teams can often exert a lot more influence on attendance behaviour than managers”. “There is some tendency to treat absence as a personal, individual performance issue and ignore the fact that it is under considerable social control. People imitate the attendance behaviour of their peers.”

The lessons:

Read the full article for more facts and figures about the estimated cost of absenteeism to businesses:…