New episodes of Workplace Geeks land

workplace geeksTwo new episodes of Workplace Geeks have now joined the already impressive roster of the first season. In episode 5 – The other 90 percent: ‘A Toolkit for Living in a New Building’ – Chris and Ian explore a novel approach to the ‘post-occupancy evaluation’ (or POE) of new workplaces with Dr Harriet Shortt, Associate Professor in Organisation Studies at UWE Bristol. Harriet and her collaborators (including Stride Treglown and ISG) used a participatory visual technique featuring smartphone photographs to explore the lived experiences of staff, students and visitors using their brand new £55m Bristol Business School building. All participants were invited to respond with images and accompanying comments to two simple questions: How do you feel about the building and how are you using the building?

Whilst useful learning and evaluation tools in principle, POEs are often uninspiring exercises that only scratch the surface of workplace change initiatives. This visual approach found that only 10% of the findings replicated areas covered by traditional POEs, suggesting the huge potential for untapped insights from richer qualitative work. The UWE POE project website (including the full report download).

Original hybrid material: ‘Hybrid Workspace (2005)’

In episode 6 of Workplace Geeks, Chris and Ian are joined by Susan Halford, Professor of Sociology at the University of Bristol, to talk about her seminal study. Back in 2005, as Susan published research findings from her case study at ‘Insurance Co’, she used ‘hybrid’ to describe working between home, office and other workspaces. The findings are every bit as relevant to post-pandemic hybrid working.

Thinking about hybrid working only in terms of different spaces risks oversimplifying the impact of hybrid on people, work and organizations. Hybrid workspaces have ‘relationality’: the different options affect the way work gets done, how people socialize, and how work gets organized and managed. Today, Susan argues, we need to get past opinions and headlines, and gather more empirical evidence to help us understand not just what is going on, but why.

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All episodes of Workplace Geeks can be found here.