News from the Front Desk, Issue No 521: We’ve got another event coming and it’s going to be exciting and intensely useful and practical for the changes we’re confronting right now in our workplaces.

The title Back to My Happy Healthy Workplace is part wishful thinking that all our workplaces were the eponymous ideal, and partly a goal to strive for.

We’re not necessarily offering answers either. It’s too soon into the acceleration process that took hold with the pandemic. It’s why we’ve gone to so much trouble to bring in the best experts in the field, so we can hear what they’re thinking, and what they’re telling their clients and stakeholders.

But whatever the direction of the changes, they look to be vast and permanent, not temporary.

That’s especially so when you look through the lens of the mega climate challenges under way. (The pandemic is a climate change impact and driven by our encroachment on nature).

More specifically is the mega trend of sustainability and the awakenings it’s spurring. From intolerance of the previously accepted practice of toxic runoffs from construction sites that foul our world, to how to stop the insult to our human dignity from harassment and sexual discriminations in the workplace and the passion for equity and justice sweeping the planet.

There’s a lot of people who are saying, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.”

And our workplaces seem to be the lightning rod for much of that emotion.

In the spirit of these broader awakenings, we’re ratcheting up the pressure a bit.

Our previous workplace events were much focused on offices and the physical space we provide for vast swathes of workers. We asked if our offices were healthy, well designed, preferably with a biophilic strand running through them.

A key outcome property owners and their tenants were looking for was the productivity that good physical space would lead to. With happy workers part of that story, of course.

In the spirit of awakenings we’ll also turn the spotlight to the non-white collar workers (though we’re not sure we’ll see many white shirts again after so many people these days deck out in civvies or tracky dacks, albeit fancy.)

We’ll look at the people who work in the labs, schools, hospitals and the non-descript canyons of our factories and warehouses –  fulfillment centres we’ve learnt to call them after Francis Macdormand’s Nomadland.

And what about this notion of being happy so you can deliver on productivity? Is happiness in the job really about the job as much as it used to be? Aren’t we these days conflating work and identity? Should we?

And isn’t the boss at least partly responsible for that, by way of the conditions that they/he/she provide and which under Covid became manifestly more personal, intimate and let’s face it, in some cases, invasive?

The long arc of responsibility has grown some additional tentacles.

Bosses are now expected to consider whether their workers’ home office is not ergonomically kitted out, whether it’s a safe place to work. Including free from domestic violence.

To be comfortable and engaged you need first to feel safe. So, we’re bringing in the practical people who implement better workplaces and measure their impact (Bryon Price from A.G. Coombes; Jack Noonan from WELL Certified; Anthony Marklund from Floth and Christhina Candido, University of Melbourne.)

Alongside this are more esoteric issues are making their way into the world of material impact.

In a fantastic interview with Claudia Barriga-Larriviere, of ERA-co (but then everyone we’ve spoken to for this symposium has been fantastic and mind expanding) we discovered the notion of how choice and equity affects the workplace, and how the idea of change has to start at the top. If the boss wants change are they willing to themselves change? And what exactly is meant by choice? And no, it’s not about whether to let the staff choose a new watercooler or an espresso machine.

Barriga-Larriviere, who’s worked previously for start up accelerator Blue Chilli before joining ERA and workplace guru James Calder, one of our keynotes for the day, has such an original and challenging take on the issues that you realise the topics have quickly leapt from workplace to the personal and philosophical.

And we go even further. We look at what the implications will be for our cities, and our regions and the governments’ need to plan and create policies that both respond to change and lead to better outcomes.

We can’t wait to see what the highly regarded Ludo Campbell-Reid will say to contribute the land use piece to this emerging complex puzzle. Check out Poppy Johnston’s story on his work to get a gist of what this imaginative professional is cooking up. Including his plan to lure Qantas headquarters to his hood, Wyndham City Council in Melbourne’s west. 

How things have shifted. And so fast. It’s why sustainability is a field of never ending discovery.

Don’t miss this event.

But because Covid still rules our world we are restricted in the numbers of in-person guests we can accommodate. So, first in at the fantastic venue supplied by Dexus, first served.

Of course, if you’re interstate or overseas you will be able to log in in the comfort of your home/office/factory/lab/hospital/warehouse/school/office.

Or wherever….!

Get your tickets here

And huge thanks to our sponsors International WELL Building Institute and Floth

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