Workplace in dialogue: podcasts that challenge conventions

How can we create environments for employees to thrive? Human-centred workplace design is a core theme of three new podcasts that are worthy of attention

The modern office is facing a period of reflection and reimagining. Opinion is divided about what the future of work could be and how it will play out in workplace design.

For many workplace leaders, this is a difficult time to manage and pivot to new expectations – but for others, this period offers an exciting opportunity to challenge conventions and rewire the foundations of work.

The guests on three prominent new workplace podcasts firmly fall into the latter group. From designing more flexible work schedules and aligning with the wider context of society today to creating work environments where people can thrive and flourish – these discussions paint an optimistic portrait of a human-centric future of work.

Crafting Eudaimonia

In the latest episode of The UnWorking Podcast, WORKTECH Academy chairman Philip Ross and architect David Dewane discuss the concept of eudaimonia – the highest state of human flourishing – within the context of the workplace.

Working on the basis that a workplace should be a place where individuals can thrive, collaborate and innovate, Ross and Dewane advocate for leaders to challenge conventional workplace norms and experiment with traditional workplace design to create spaces that prioritise collaboration and creativity.

‘We must be willing to challenge the status quo and explore unconventional solutions…’

Eudaimonia at work requires office design to centre around the individual. Workplaces that foster human connection, creativity and wellbeing will contribute to an individual’s sense of autonomy and value, and empower individuals to reach their full potential. The podcast ends with a call to action: workplace designers need to be bold and break down conventional thinking to create spaces that prioritise people over process and work.

Good work is a shared agenda

Investing in good work practices is the responsibility of both employers and the government. This is a key takeaway from Future of Work Hub’s In Conversation With..’ podcast with Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy in the CIPD. As the UK introduces its new flexible work policy, Willmott and podcast host Lucy Lewis discuss the areas of recommended public policy reform including statutory sick pay, increased occupational health support for small businesses, and introducing skills or training levies.

Willmott advocates for the creation of more flexible and healthy jobs that can support labour market participation, keep people healthy at work, and accommodate different abilities and schedules. He believes that AI and emerging technologies could be a key driver of establishing good work practices by augmenting some job roles, allowing people to focus on skills and work that help them thrive.

For good work to take shape, Willmott believes that conversations at board level and within senior leadership teams need to be informed by a real understanding of the value of the workforce. Highlighting the key data points that will influence senior leadership teams and boards to invest in HR and people management is critical to unlocking the value and potential of the workforce.

Relearning the office

In the fourth season of his podcast ‘Decoding Culture’, pioneering social anthropologist Dr John Curran discusses how work and workplace ideology has evolved with Professor Jeremy Myerson of WORKTECH Academy. The conversation centres around key themes from Myerson’s latest book ‘Unworking: the reinvention of the modern office’ which is co-authored by Philip Ross.

Jeremy Myerson notes that we need to explore the historical trajectories of the workplace to inform and understand how we will work tomorrow. A key message of his book is that we are currently in the middle of another seismic shift in how we work – one that is now manifesting within the physical office environment.

As companies navigate their way through new ways of working, we need to look at the wider context to understand how work fits into society today. Social anthropology is central to this approach. Access the podcast with Dr John Curran here.

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