Get Reworked Podcast: The Great Workplace Experiment of 2020 – 2021
The past year-plus has been one giant, often unwanted and unanticipated, experiment at work. From emerging collaboration tools and AI-fueled bots to new working models like hybrid and remote work, organizations large and small had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. New ways of thinking and working are a reality from the frontline to the C-suite.
It's also quite obvious it's still a work in progress. In this kickoff episode to Season 2 of Get Reworked, co-hosts Siobhan Fagan and Mike Prokopeak take a look back at some of what's happened and review their own podcast experiment.
The past year has seen dizzying advancements as well as consistent reminders that it's often the management basics that have the most dramatic effect. Highlights of the conversation include:
- Big workplace themes from the 2021 Digital Workplace Experience series.
- Why the basics are so important in the workplace of the future.
- Favorite episodes from Season 1 of the podcast.
Plus, Siobhan and Mike renew their debate about whether or not raisins in cookies are a good thing. That and more hard-hitting commentary on what's next from the upcoming season of the Get Reworked podcast. Listen in for more.
Have a suggestion, comment or topic for a future episode? Drop us a line at [email protected].
- Siobhan Fagan on Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Mike Prokopeak on Twitter and LinkedIn.
- The 2021 Digital Workplace Experience series.
- The State of the Digital Workplace research report.
Note: This transcript has been edited for space and clarity.
Mike Prokopeak: Welcome back to Get Reworked. I'm Mike Prokopeak, editor in chief at Reworked, and I'm joined by my co-host, Siobhan Fagan. Hey Siobhan!
Siobhan Fagan: Hey Mike. So I am Siobhan Fagan. I am the managing editor at Reworked, and I am so excited to be back for Season 2.
Mike: Get Reworked is our podcast, brought to you by Simpler Media Group, where you'll hear from industry pioneers leading the way into the future of work, reshaping not just how we work, but also why.
Thank you, all of our loyal listeners, for listening in to Season 1. We've got much more in store for you as we look ahead to this next season.
But we want to talk just briefly about a great event that we just wrapped up just last week, actually, our Digital Workplace Experience. This was a four part series of virtual events that we did all throughout this year, and we just wrapped up the final event last week. We talked about intelligent workplaces, change management, the future of work — we talked about a lot over two days and, Siobhan, one thing that I really enjoyed about that conversation was actually a panel discussion that you led talking about the intelligent workplace, which we had a little bit of a laugh about. But maybe you could tell the listeners a little bit about that conversation. What is the intelligent workplace?
Siobhan: I have to say, Mike, there's still a lot of definitions out there. And I don't know which one to go with. Let's just say that I had a great time with that panel. They were awesome as far as setting me straight on what I thought it would be. I really thought we were talking robots and the metaverse and AI, and they just brought me back down to earth. And they said, "No, it's none of those things until you can get the basics straight," which is something that our own research has proven time and again. So basically, back to basics. Get the foundation right, and then you can start looking at all this fabulous technology that's out there.
Mike: That's true. It's like we talk about intelligent workplace. There was an article we did last year where David Roe, one of our longtime writers, wrote about the smart workplace. But it's kind of an interesting point that, you know what, we haven't even got the "dumb" workplace, right?
Siobhan: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I spoke with somebody a few years ago. And I always go back to this point, because I said, you know, you have a blank check, you could do anything you wanted for your digital workplace. And he was leading a pretty substantial organization's digital workplace. I'm like, what would you do? And he said, "Get people to stop saving documents on their external hard drive."
Mike: Right? I mean, so it's like when we're talking about the intelligent workplace, you know, things like AI pretty consistently come up, with artificial intelligence, how we can use that technology and the incredible innovations that have happened with that to automate a lot of the processes that we do at work. So how can we pull those out of our day-to-day, you know, drudgery, so to speak, and let the let the machines do the work for us. But it's also so much about collaboration and kind of bringing people together. And it's also bringing people together around the stuff that they use, like the clay of work. It's often documents. It's email. It's all the things that we do that are kind of like lodged in work that we kind of need to make sure we pull out and make accessible to everyone.
Siobhan: I think "lodged in" is the key term. But you also had a panel which was really a great conversation on change management. What were the highlights of that conversation for you, Mike?
Mike: Yeah, what stood out to me is actually the thing that we talked a lot about in our Season 1 of the podcast, which was that we have an incredible amount of technology that's available to us at work, in our lives, but also at work. And the idea that if the pandemic would have happened at any other time, we would not necessarily have had the technologies to be able to continue work in the way that we did to sustain our businesses and actually improve, in some cases, our workplaces.
But it's not just about that technology that was there at the beginning and has been kind of supercharged throughout the last 18 months or so. It really comes down to people. And we did a panel discussion to talk about change management when change is constant, which is this idea that as technology is constantly evolving, we as organizations need to be constantly involved in getting people ready for the changes that these technologies can bring so that we can actually do something with it. Because it really comes down to not so much technology, but what we're able to apply that technology to, and that's not necessarily where we've been successful in the past.
Siobhan: I think it's such a great point. And I think that one of the rare benefits, if you can say benefit from a pandemic, is that organizations got like an ego boost in that they were able to make this change. They had been debating onboarding some of these technologies for years in advance. And then within a few weeks, they had to have it stood up and have it out to their employees. And the employees figured out how to use it, too. And I'm not saying that the training and the onboarding and the change management processes, we don't need them anymore. But I think it's shown us that we're capable of a lot more than maybe we are giving ourselves credit for.
Mike: Yeah. And we featured a little bit of our research in that discussion as well. So Sarah Kimmel, who's our head of research, and also a Season 1 podcast guest, talked a bit about the research, and it totally backs up what you were just saying, Siobhan, in that those companies that kind of had this in their bloodstream before really were able to kind of zoom forward with that as the last 18 months played out.
And I think one thing that I heard from the panelists on that discussion where we were talking about change management, one key takeaway was always do little experiments because you never know when that little experiment, even if it's a failure, can start to develop a little bit of a muscle that you're going to need at a time of uncertainty. And that is really what change management is about. It's about being ready for change. Not after it happens, but before it happens.
Siobhan: So, Mike, speaking of little experiments, should we discuss a little bit about this little experiment we've been involved in over this last year?
Addressing Employee Needs and Wants with a Digital Workplace
The workplace is getting more and more digital – both in how we work and where we work
Maintaining a Human-Centered Approach During Digital Transformation
When it comes to digital transformation - people drive change, not technology
The Evolution of Employee Recognition
Leveraging the power of appreciation to improve the employee experience
How to Build a More Innovative and Resilient Workplace Culture
What would happen if every member of your team came to work focused on finding solutions and creating better results?
Mike: You mean the podcast, Siobhan?
Siobhan: I mean the podcast. I mean Reworked. I mean all of it.
Mike: That's true. It's kind of hard to believe that Reworked has only been around for a year and a half, a little bit over now. We launched it in April of 2020. It was bad timing for the world in the sense of what we were all going through over this last 18 months, but the topic was really ripe. And this idea of the digital workplace, and the revolution of work, really kind of took us a lot of steps forward over this last 18 months.
And we've been fortunate enough Siobhan, you and I, to be here to observe it, to watch it, to write about it, to be talking to people on this podcast about what they're doing, and the little experiments that they're doing and the big ones that they're doing, and really start to share some of those stories. Because I really think we're just at the beginning of this. I don't know if you feel the same way.
Siobhan: I definitely do. It feels like we're at an inflection point where there are some societal forces and some workforce forces and multiple factors all feeding into this broader change. And I love watching what's coming out. And I love some of the changes that are happening due to these demands that employees are making and that the employers are listening to.
Mike: Yeah, the thing that I love that you just said there, was that it's sort of like these ideas that are a mixture of technology, certainly technology is a lot of it, but the bringing in of the social aspects of not just what's happening at work, but also what's happening in the broader ecosystem around employees. Their home lives are their work lives in some cases. But you also have the societal pressures and changes, the exhaustion from living the last year and a half, and the need for more mental resilience and empathy on the part of organizations. I think all that's coming out, and something that we've talked about in this podcast but also write about.
Siobhan: So Mike, if somebody wants to find out about all these podcasts, all these articles, all these research and events that you're talking about, where should they go?
Mike: Well, for the events I could point you to dwexperience.com. That's our website for our Digital Workplace Experience event. You can certainly check out all the sessions that we talked about on the podcast today.
But I would absolutely encourage you to go to reworked.co and to click the subscribe link, because that will get you our newsletter. We send that out twice a week. It'll also get you access to all of our research. We'll keep you informed about our events, all of the upcoming webinars. And of course, it's where we'll also deliver to you are bi-weekly podcasts. So you can certainly check that out as well. Go to reworked.co and click the subscribe link and you'll be able to access all of the great stuff that we're doing every week.
So you brought up our little experiment with the podcast. We're launching Season 2 with this conversation today. Looking back at our first season, we had 20 episodes. What are some of the conversations that if somebody missed it and they're just coming to us, you would recommend they go to
Siobhan: I loved the conversation that we had, it was towards the end of the season, and it was with Malia Lazu. And this episode was called "How to Take Your Diversity Strategy From Intention to Impact." She got into the nitty gritty of corporate social responsibility. She told us to keep our skeptical visors on so that we should always be questioning what these different organizations are doing when they claim that they're doing corporate social responsibility. But she also talked about the power of employee groups to enact change. And she was just a dynamic speaker. How about you, Mike?
Mike: Before I jump into mine, I just want to echo that point that, you know, she had a really rich background. She was a community activist. She also worked at a bank. She just had a really interesting perspective coming from multiple places on that. That stood out to me.
The one I want to point to actually was from last February. And it's kind of funny to think that that was only what, eight months ago or so, we spoke with Ryan Anderson, and the episode was the "The Future of Office Design After COVID." And Ryan is the head of innovation at Herman Miller, which is a furniture maker, but his job is actually to think about the future of our physical spaces and of work, and how the physical workspace interacts with how the digital workspace is increasingly working.
And I think Ryan Anderson just had a really interesting perspective on office design after COVID, which in February, we thought was in our next six months future, but it has lingered on as companies have pushed back their plans to head back to the office until 2022 in many cases. So definitely, that is a conversation that is still worth checking out because I think he had loads of insights into what the office of the future will look like, and how we should readjust everything.
Siobhan: How is the oxygen level in your office, speaking of, Mike?
Mike: I think about it every morning. I work on the third floor of our house. We've got sort of this converted attic space. So every morning, even if it's cold out, I will open up the window just to get some fresh oxygen in, and I always think of that podcast actually right there.
Siobhan: It's amazing how often I think of Ryan, because every once in a while, I'll just walk over to a window and stick my head just to get the oxygen. So thank you, Ryan, if you're listening.
Mike: Yes, thank you, Ryan. And those of you who haven't checked out that conversation, be sure to check your O2 levels in your home workspace because it does have an impact on your efficiency and effectiveness at work.
I think, Siobhan, the last one that stood out to me was a conversation that we had with actually two people, Ravin Jesuthasan and John Boudreau. They're longtime writing partners thinking about the future of work, but that conversation keeps coming back up to me in many cases as well because what they talked about was sort of the deconstruction of jobs. And I think we're all kind of feeling it. But when they were talking through some of their work and their research, and the title of that podcast was "Rethinking Jobs for the Age of Automation," I thought they just had a really intriguing, abstract, but also concrete way that employers can kind of approach it. I thought they were really able to operate on two levels there.
Siobhan: It was interesting. I do find myself returning to that conversation. It's one of those chances where I think of questions that I wish I asked them after the fact. There's just so many implications for approaching work in that way, for the changing way that being employed or being an employee will look in the future. I do return to that conversation again and again.
Mike: Yeah, I liked how they said we need a new operating system for work. Kind of like a new iOS, you know. It's like the way that we traditionally think about work, we just need a completely different way to think about it, a new operating system. And the other thing that kind of came out of that conversation was talent marketplaces. This idea that you can't control people but you can control, at least internally to your company, opportunity and development opportunity. So kind of create a marketplace where people can pick and choose or can see what they want for their future and match that up with development opportunities and with stretch opportunities for their own career growth.
Siobhan: And this also touched on the role of HR in the workplace, and how they thought that human resources needed to shift from thinking about being the steward of employment to being the steward of work. And I thought that was a really compelling argument. Everybody always talks about the future of HR, what they should be doing now, and that seemed to me like a really strong place for human resources to be looking at now.
Mike: Yeah. Well, we had lots of fun. I had lots of fun. I shouldn't speak for you. If you had fun with it, too.
Siobhan: I definitely did, Mike, although I will always think about the raisins.
Mike: The raisins? Remind me of that one.
Siobhan: Oh, you like raisins in cookies, Mike.
Mike: That's right. Yeah, we did have ...
Siobhan: We call it Raisin-gate. Yeah.
Mike: Raisin-gate. That's right. We had a lot of important debates in Season 1 about the future of work and deconstruction of jobs. But more importantly, we talked about whether raisins in cookies are a good idea. And I am still firmly in the camp that oatmeal raisin cookies are far better than chocolate chip.
Siobhan: Yeah, so we're going to continue covering the hard, hard truths like this in Season 2. Stay tuned for jam and butter on toast or dry.
Mike: Yeah. Cream in your coffee. You know, that's another one we haven't touched on. But hold it, hold that one, Siobhan. We don't want to get into it yet. We want to tease people with a little bit of what's coming in the future. We definitely appreciate everybody listening in Season 1. We've got lots more great conversations to come in Season 2. Be sure to follow us because I'm looking forward to another great season, and Siobhan, we've got a lot to talk about.
Siobhan: Yes, we do. I'm looking forward to it, Mike.
Mike: We encourage you to drop us a line at [email protected]. If you have a suggestion or a topic for a future conversation, we are all ears. Additionally, if you like what you hear, please post a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you may be listening. And be sure to share Get Reworked with anyone that you think might benefit from these types of conversations. And then finally, be sure to follow us at Get Reworked on Twitter as well.
Thank you again for exploring the revolution of work with us and we'll see you next time.