Get Reworked Podcast Guest Jim Kalbach of Mural

Get Reworked Podcast 22: Jim Kalbach

November 09, 2021 Employee Experience
Mike Prokopeak
By Mike Prokopeak, Siobhan Fagan

Get Reworked Podcast Episode 22 Guest Jim Kalbach of Mural
Hybrid work is the order of the day for many companies as they ponder their future. But what does hybrid work actually mean and how do you design it to work for both employees and the organization?

In this episode of Get Reworked, Jim Kalbach, chief evangelist at digital whiteboard company MURAL, talks about how the current moment is an inflection point for designing places where people actually want to work.

Listen: Get Reworked Podcast Full Episode List

"I don't think it's a change in work that we've experienced during the pandemic," he said. "It's a change in lifestyle that we've experienced and because of that people kind of got a flavor of a different way of living and working. And I don't think they're ready to give that up."

Highlights of the conversation include:

  • Why you have to be intentional about how you design hybrid and remote work.
  • How to use small moments within meetings to create a positive culture.
  • How user experience and design thinking can be used to create effective hybrid work experiences.
  • The 5 P Framework for thinking about hybrid work, and why policy and practice should drive your approach.
  • Why now is the time to reinvent how you engage with teams and embrace a playful mindset.

Plus, co-hosts Siobhan Fagan and Mike Prokopeak talk about the oeuvre of Nicolas Cage movies and how the journeyman Hollywood actor just might be the panacea for what ails the digital workplace. Listen in for more.

Have a suggestion, comment or topic for a future episode? Drop us a line at [email protected].

Tune-in Here

Apple Podcasts icon
Breaker Podcast icon
Castbox Podcast icon
Castro Podcast icon
Google Podcasts Icon


Overcast Podcast Icon
Pandora podcast icon
Pocketcasts Podcast icon
Podcast Addict icon
Radio Public podcast icon
Spotify podcast icon
Stitcher podcast icon

Show Notes

Episode Transcript

Note: This transcript has been edited for space and clarity.

Jim Kalbach: If you have a designer mindset or design thinking mindset, you see hybrid as an experience. You have an intention, a goal, there's an outcome, a target. And there's a before, during and after to get to that target. And you would think about how you're going to craft the narrative arc of that experience, and be intentional about it.

Siobhan Fagan: That's Jim Kalbach. Jim is an author. He's a speaker. He is a noted expert in user experience, customer experience and strategy. He recently came out with a framework for hybrid workplace which is why we brought him here today. Jim serves as the chief evangelist at MURAL, and I can't wait to hear from him.

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: Hey Mike. So I am Siobhan Fagan. I am the managing editor at Reworked.

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.

Siobhan: Are you ready, Mike?

Mike: I'm ready? Let's Get Reworked.

Siobhan: Welcome to Get Reworked, Jim.

Jim: Well, thanks for having me. Great to be here.

Siobhan: So we have you here to discuss the hybrid workplace. But before we really get into the nitty gritty, I have a bigger picture question for you. We've been watching a lot of businesses saying that they want their employees back by Labor Day, they want their employees back by the beginning of the summer, and then have to kind of walk back those policies. Is there any need for us to be in the office now? And if so, why?

Jim: It's a great question. And it's also a question that I ask our customers. We did hear at the beginning of the year, they were going to go back in the fall, of course, now we're in fall and the Delta variant and other reasons, prolong that. And I think then that also sent people back to the drawing board of well, why do we even need to go back to the office at all? Companies are still grappling with that question.

I hear lots of different answers. We don't know the final answer yet. It's still yet to be seen what the purpose of the office — the physical office is — I think that's how deep the pandemic changed how we work.

Siobhan: So all of these reports of lack of engagement or employees feeling lonely, all of that, do you buy that?

Jim: I do. And I understand that, and I empathize with that. And to some degree, that's what we're working on here at MURAL for a decade now, the company just hit its 10 year anniversary. And we've really been looking at engagement and participation and inclusion and diversity of voices in workplace collaboration, and how you can improve that. We continue to learn as we go along, and I'd like to think we're kind of on the cutting edge of answering that question. So when I hear teams and companies say that, I empathize with them but I know there's a better way at the same time. I know there are ways to engage people when they're remote or in hybrid situations, as well, too.

So when I hear that, I just feel an opportunity. There's an opportunity for me as chief evangelist to go out and educate and enable and to coach teams in how to have more engaging meetings.

Mike: Alright, Jim, so we're talking about return to the office plans. And I think we've seen a number of CEOs over the last year, come out and say that, you know, this remote work thing, this is just a passing thing. We'll get back to the way things used to be. Reed Hastings at Netflix called remote work a pure negative for them. David Solomon of Goldman Sachs called it an aberration that we're going to be putting an end to as soon as possible. And I know that, you know, hybrid work and remote work are two different things. But it definitely signifies a belief about the office and people not being in the office.

So if you are in that position, where you were talking to Reed Hastings or you're talking to David Solomon and making the case for going remote or going hybrid, what would you tell them? What's the case you'd make?

Jim: First of all, I think evidence speaks against that. There are lots of surveys out there about personal preference and working style and lifestyle, actually. Just as a quick aside, you know, I don't think it's a change in work that we've experienced during the pandemic. It's a change in lifestyle that we've experienced and because of that people kind of got a flavor of a different way of living and working. And I don't think they're ready to give that up. I do not think it's an aberration, and the evidence certainly does not support that it's just a passing fad. And then you look at all the companies that kind of came out with those strong positions, and they're walking them back.

Apple, for instance, had a presence requirement. They wanted their employees to be there three days a week, I think, was what they announced a while back. And then there was an uproar, and there was actually a petition and you know, almost a protest inside Apple from employees against that. And Apple just spent, I don't know, how many billions of dollars on what is arguably the best office place in the world in Silicon Valley there, and they can't get people to come to that office. If Apple can't get people to come to their office, what chance do other companies have. So I really don't think the evidence is there.

And also, if you look at productivity, and even creativity and innovation, and some of these other dimensions of work as well too, the evidence doesn't support having to go to the office either. Which isn't to say there's no place for an office. But I think it's changed fundamentally and that's really what the evidence supports.

Mike: Yeah, it's interesting that you brought up the Apple example. And what's leading that, I don't know if we would call it a revolt. I mean, I don't know if people revolt within Apple. But it was led by employees after the announcement. And I don't think you necessarily see that from a company like Goldman Sachs, who kind of says, take it or leave it, in many cases. But it is interesting that it is employees that are driving a lot of this. And that is what we've been saying for a long time that talent holds the power. Now we're actually seeing that in corporate decision-making, which I think is interesting.

Jim: Yeah, and I think some of those positions that you outlined before kind of assume otherwise. That is they have the power, and not the talent, and the pandemic really shifted that. And I think that's why you also see, the Great Resignation or the Big Quit, which to some degree is a position of privilege, right? To be able to just walk away from a job is certainly a privileged condition.

But the reality of the situation is for a lot of knowledge workers and office workers, they did realize there was choice. nd not only do I not have to go back to the office, I don't have to work for you. And that's really powerful. When employees say that kind of as a group, we're not going to take this or I'm not going to work for you. It shifts the power as you observed.

Siobhan: So it's pretty funny that in the middle of this discussion of employees walking away from the company, I'm going to ask you about corporate culture, because the two don't seem to be necessarily leading one to the other, but perhaps it does. You've got a background in ethnographic research. And a lot of times these companies making the argument to get these employees back into the office, which the employees are saying "no" to, is that corporate culture can't be maintained in a remote setting. Do you think this is true?

Jim: Oh, no, absolutely not. I think, you know, here at MURAL, I've been leading a remote team for six years now. And we've grown quite a bit. And now we have close to 700 people, I think, and most of them hired during the pandemic. So we've not met even in-person, we don't even have offices anymore. But we have a very strong corporate culture, creative, imaginative culture, also very connected with one another, a very supportive culture, a transparent culture, all of those things that you would want from a company culture that traditionally we assumed happen because of these proverbial water cooler moments. And I'm just using the water cooler there as a metaphor. It's really the office space. It's the physically coming together on a daily basis and the moments that you have together face to face as a team and as a company.

I think the assumption was if you don't have those, you don't have culture. And that's just not true. And we've seen that time and time again, where you can have quite a hyper-distributed team even and maintain a sense of corporate culture. You always have a corporate culture, right. The idea is that it's an intentional corporate culture, right. And I think that's what's absolutely possible with distributed teams.

Siobhan: Can I ask you to just give us maybe a little taste of what you do at MURAL to encourage not necessarily you specifically, but at mural what they do to encourage us corporate culture using digital tools?

Jim: Sure, absolutely. You can look at this kind of on different levels of altitude, different levels of granularity or scope. One of the first things that come to mind are some of the virtual retreats that we've done. Our head of culture, who by the way, herself is a fairly well known digital nomad and remote worker. She came over to MURAL and now is heading up our culture efforts, again intentional culture building. We've run on these virtual events, the first one in 2020, with about 150 or 200 people, I forget how many people and then and then again this year, where we had 400 or 500 people, I can't remember the size of the company then where we had full on company-wide retreat days that were packed with activities and totally engaging using the tools that we have available to us to connect people over time and distance, including Zoom and conferencing technology. But of course MURAL as well, too. So we rely heavily on MURAL. And these were great moments now that are encapsulated in YouTube videos and blog posts that we can point to and I can give as an answer to the question that you just asked.

But I think almost more importantly are kind of the small things that you do, the little habits, the little nudges that you give culture on a regular basis even on a meeting by meeting basis. For instance, we're really big on things like check ins and warmups and energizers and icebreakers. And it might sound frivolous, but if you're going into an hour-long meeting and you take two minutes to get everybody checked in and warmed up, it actually gives you better results to do small moments throughout your collaboration and interaction with your colleagues.

One example of that: We have a technique, a little exercise we call Pick Your Nic. And we use a MURAL canvas, which is a visual canvas, and there's this grid of nine Nicolas Cage characters with different emotions. There's a stressed Nicolas Cage. There's a happy Nicolas Cage. There's one that just says "bees" on it. And then before we start a meeting, people grab a sticky note and declare which Nicolas Cage they are. Takes about two minutes to do, you get everybody's name out there, and you have a little bit of fun, right? So there's this little check-in, which Nicolas Cage are you today? And then people are opened up, people talk and all are just more relaxed going into the meeting.

So I must think it's those little nudges and those little moments that can actually do more for your culture than the big yearly retreats.

Mike: I love that, Pick Your Nic. I wish I could be the Nic Cage from Con Air, but unfortunately I don't think that's where I fall most days.

Jim: Well, one of the things that happens when we do Pick Your Nic by the way is that we have these nine, and then people say I want to be the Nicolas Cage from Con Air. I usually pick a Raising Arizona. Yeah. And so, what I do is I actually pull a picture off the web, and I put that there.

So I actually start extending the rules, which is also a very interesting warm-up effect that you get. OK, I'm the facilitator of this meeting and I gave you rules — pick one of these nine Nics — and then people bring in their own. You start having these self-created rules of engagement for the team. And just allowing you, for instance, to bring in that picture of Nic might give you more psychological safety later on in the meeting to challenge something that I said or to make up your own rules of engagement as well, too.

So there are these little moments too, but it's really the rules of engagement that you establish at the beginning of interaction with your colleagues that I think is really important.

Mike: Alright, Siobhan. Before we jump into the next question, I need to know, Pick Your Nic.

Siobhan: I'm Nic in Valley Girl. He was the ultimate bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks, but he just had a heart of gold. Nobody understood him, Mike.

Mike: So, omigod, we're gonna talk UX next. Hope that's OK, Jim.

Jim: Oh, yeah, I'm big UX guy myself. So happy, always happy to talk about UX.

Mike: Kind of backtracking to one of your comments earlier talked about an intentional culture. And that's why I want to talk about UX. The reason I ask you about UX is because UX, user experience, this idea is that you have to be very intentional about the experiences that people have. What are the lessons that you bring from the UX world to designing the workplace? I think you gave us some good examples, but kind of a principle basis, what are some of the key principles there?

Jim: I think the answer to your question is in the question. And that's the word design, that if you have a designerly mindset or design thinking mindset that might come from UX or elsewhere, you see hybrid as an experience. You have an intention, a goal, there's an outcome, a target, that you want to reach. And there's a before, during and after, to get to that target. And as a UX designer, which I've done in my career, you would think about how you're going to craft the narrative arc of that experience and be intentional about it. One of those points being an opening. How are you going to open up with Pick Your Nic or some other warm up like that? How are you then going to diverge and converge on the topic at hand as well, too.

But one other really key aspect in the design of the hybrid experience, I think, is what can you do before and after that experience as well, too. I think by the way, this is one of the huge advantages of distributed work or remote collaboration, is that you don't always have to be together synchronously at the same time. That you can get some work done beforehand and afterwards as well, too, we call that asynchronous work.

So part of the arc that you design is offloading some of the work that you might have otherwise done face-to-face and in the office, you might have done some of those things together, you can actually offload that asynchronous work. For instance, simple info share. There's no reason why someone has to get up and read bullet points off to a group of people for 15 minutes before you start discussing or deciding. You could do that in advance by sending around that PowerPoint deck or creating a video of yourself talking through those points. And then everybody can do it at their own pace at their own time, which helps with time zones by the way as well, too.

But back to your question. I think it's really about thinking about the tools, the techniques, and the team, or the people, and how those components are going to come together to create this experience and designing that experience intentionally.

Siobhan: So at this point, we're just gonna take a little break, Jim, because we have a game we like to play with guests called underrated or overrated, where we throw out an idea or something that perhaps relates to your life and you tell us if you think it's underrated or overrated. Are you willing to play with us?

Jim: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Siobhan: Awesome. So you have a really interesting background. You have a master's in library information science, which you know, I'm giving you the secret masters of library and information science handshake from afar. You also are a stand up bass player. And you also gave a TEDx talk.

Jim: All true, all true.

Siobhan: So, in that TEDx talk, you shared something that jazz musicians do when they're doing improvisation called having big ears. So my first underrated or overrated question for you is, is having big ears underrated or overrated?

Jim: I think it's underrated. You know, the the idea of big ears when you apply it to teamwork and collaboration and work in general is listening to others more than you're talking. I think that's underrated.

Mike: Alright, my turn. I'm gonna give you a minute to think about this one because it's a little bit of a curveball, but Nic Cage as a leading man. So think about that for a second. And this is crazy, I was just doing a little bit of research on Nic Cage movies. I had no idea he was in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and The Outsiders. He was in both of those movies.

Jim: What did he do in Fast Times?I've got to go back and look at that. 

Mike: Alright, so Nic Cage as a leading man, underrated or overrated?

Jim: As much fun as Pick Your Nic is as a warm up before meetings, I'm not necessarily a Nic Cage fan. Love Raising Arizona and some things but other things I don't get at all.

Mike: A little one-note as an actor.

Jim: There you go. Yeah.

Siobhan: Alright, Jim. Next up, beer as a window into civilization. Underrated or overrated?

Jim: Oh, that's hugely underrated. I don't know where you dug that up in my past but I actually have a strong opinion on that. The theory goes that the nomadic tribes of the Tigris/Euphrates Valley had everything they needed, you know, food and shelter and things like that, but they couldn't get enough green at once to brew their early primitive beer. And there's this one theory that actually the history of agriculture and the history of civilization, or nomads settling down, was that they can have enough grain to have beer. So beer is kind of the articulation point of civilization.

Siobhan: I heard you talking about this. And then it reminded me I had recently read an article that said that the landing at Plymouth Rock was partially driven because they were afraid they were going to run out of beer.

Jim: Oh yeah. I've heard stories like that, not that one. But I've heard stories like that. And I'll stand by all of them. Back in that time with the pilgrims, probably what happened, they brewed a low alcohol beer so that the water was potable. Because once you ferment beer, then it's not going to be contaminated water. So I could see that their beer supply was also probably their drinking supply. That's just my hunch.

Mike: All right, one last underrated overrated for you, put on your pork pie hat here because we know you're a musician as well. You're a man of many talents. Jazz improv: underrated or overrated?

Jim: I think it's underrated. I've of course been, as you mentioned, a double bass player myself. I've been looking at jazz from the inside quite a bit. And then professionally here talking about collaboration and team collaboration. I've made some parallels there. And I think there's a lot of lessons that we can learn from jazz improvisation. It's actually quite a marvel. It's a phenomena how a group of jazz musicians can get together and create such great pieces of music and art and meaning together. And I, you know, been trying to distill some of those factors and inject them back into team collaboration and things like that.

Mike: Alright, favorite jazz musician before we move on.

Jim: My favorite jazz musician. Wow, that's pretty tough. You know, I'm going to say Wynton Marsalis and I'm going to say that because today is the 60th birthday, and I've been listening to Wynton Marsalis recently.

Mike: Wow, nice. Alright, we're gonna move back on to more germane subjects to the workplace now. And we want to ask you a little bit about a framework that you have developed and talked about when it comes to thinking about hybrid work. So a way for organizations to guide this conversation about hybrid workplace decisions, because up until now many have kind of just stumbled into this and stumbled their way around it.

But as this has gone on, and as they're trying to think about the next phase of work, they've really got to put some structure around this. And you've created a little bit of a framework you call the 5 Ps of Hybrid. Can you quickly walk us through what that is?

Jim: Sure. So first of all, this kind of arose because I noticed that in speaking with a lot of customers, that the word hybrid itself meant different things to different people. So this framework arose just as a way to kind of zero in on, A) well, what do you mean by hybrid, and B) what parts of hybrid are most important to you right now.

So it was really just a way to structure the conversation. And then it came out with this alliteration of five key facets or factors: people, and that's looking at things like talent and talent acquisition, but also things like psychological safety and onboarding new people in a hybrid world or remote world.

Also policy. So the next P is policy, which has to do with things like vaccination policies or presence policies on an office. Place: that's for the actual physical space that you're working in. A lot of people when they're talking about hybrid is how do I reconfigure my office to be more hybrid friendly.

The products, and by that I really mean the tools and the tool sets that you have. What's your suite of tools that you're going to be collaborating with in the hybrid world?

And then processes, or I've been saying practices more recently other than processes. That's how are you going to change your your methods and your techniques. And even things like just what's the protocol for a meeting, are you going to start with a check-in and things like that, the facilitation that you bring to the table. What are the practices? So people, policy, places, products and practices.

Siobhan: So, Jim, if an organization still is working remotely and they're trying to figure out this hybrid mathematics, is there one area that's more important or one area that they should start with before the others?

Jim: I don't know if it's more important, but I think policy actually cascades down on the other four Ps. If you have, for instance, a presence policy that you're going to require people to be in the office or not just knowing that or you're going to leave it to manager discretion and things like that. That's just an example of policy, kind of, well, that's going to determine how you're going to do the other ones. I don't know if it's more important, but sequentially there are some policy questions that often precede some of the other questions.

Where I often have a lot of conversations are around place, the office, and then the products, what's the hardware and software that we need. I think that's important but it's not as important as the practices or the processes. Those are synonyms there. I think where you're actually going to see the most traction in having the same outcomes and productivity and team engagement that you did when you were all face-to-face or all remote is by recalibrating your processes. And it's also the harder bit to do I think, because it's a little more abstract.

But I really, when I start conversations and then use the 5 Ps to kind of calibrate that conversation, I always kind of try to gravitate towards, "OK, yeah, but what are your practices? How are we actually going to put those products in places and people? How are you going to put them into action so that you get the results that you want? It's really the practice that's the container of all of that.

Siobhan: So something like this, though, is going to be changing on a regular basis as we've already seen, as we discussed at the beginning of this conversation, how do you create this? Or how often would you have to revisit this to make sure that, as you said, it's recalibrated for the needs of the office then?

Jim: Right now, probably on a quarterly or even monthly basis. Anybody who's in a position, maybe it's HR, maybe it's facilities, maybe it's a chief of staff, or sometimes you have workplace practice managers, or a team across those groups, anybody who is looking at the hybrid condition and motions within an organization. Right now every organization is going to approach it differently. And we don't know the answers, we don't know the right answer.

So one thing that I try to recommend is set everything up like an experiment, try an A and a B, compare two different modes or two different configurations, and then actually measure that and come back and revisit that maybe on a quarterly basis. Even policy, okay, let's try two days in the office and see how that goes. Or, let's leave it to the manager discretion on when people have to come to the office. And let's see how that goes.

We did a nice webinar here at MURAL with Rob Dickens, who's the chief of staff at Autodesk. And he was saying that they're looking at their hybrid policies and practices right now, so that they know more in Q1 2022. That's it. That's the goal is to just learn from what they're doing right now. And I think that's the right attitude that I try to convey to others.

Mike: Yeah, that really resonates with me. And I'm sure Siobhan you too, because we just wrapped up last week one of our big events, the Digital Workplace Experience event, and we had Adam Grant, who is professor at Penn Wharton School of Business, prolific author, just all around business guru right now. And his key point that he was talking to us, as we think about the next phase of work, is that you really do need to be thinking as a leader in organization like a scientist. To really be trying out things are not going to work. But if you kind of have this opportunity to try something out, it develops the muscle that if and when things change that you're ready to pounce on it.

Which brings me to a question I wanted to ask you, Jim, about embracing opportunities. So in my very deep research, scouring your Twitter feed, I came across a statement that you made where you said, "Hybrid work is not a burden to overcome but it's an opportunity to be embraced." And I'm wondering if there's a spot that you would recommend that people go to find the opportunity. It could be within your 5 Ps. You know, if there's one P in particular, where if organizations are really looking at this as a burden and are not really kind of embracing that opportunity, that they should start? Or it could be outside of that.

Jim: Yeah, I mean, I think it goes back to my previous answer there around practice. But I think more than that, the opportunity that I see is to re-imagine how teams work and to re-imagine how innovation happens at your company. And I think that's one thing that we learned from the pandemic, when we were all kind of thrust into this work-from-home situation, we kind of put our hands on our head and said, how are we going to do this? This is not possible. We can't possibly do a five-day workshop remotely. But then we figured out and you know, guess what, it is possible.

But I think the how kind of came to the foreground, like, how are we going to collaborate and maintain a certain level of innovation and productivity and all of those things that we saw in 2020. And I think with hybrid, it's that same type of opportunity, is around the how and the new how. What's the new how?

I'm kind of disappointed sometimes when I talk to customers and I ask what are the goals of going back to the office. And sometimes you hear things like, well, we want to make use of our real estate. And then they talk about how many touchscreens they need to order for their offices now. And very kind of tactical and low level, things like that. I really do think it's a way to kind of re-imagine how you're engaging teams.

And I think that's important for things like employee attraction and retention, as well to going back to this idea of employees having power and choice. That we're starting to see some factors emerge that are part of their decision-making process for where they're going to work and why they're going to work for a certain company. Yeah, compensation and some of the benefits, but they also want a strong team culture and engagement and purpose and things like that. And I think that's really the opportunity is to highlight those things as part of what you do as a business.

Mike: Alright, playing a little bit of the other side of this question, because there is a fair amount of exhaustion in the workplace right now. We've talked about it a number of times in this podcast with guests. And you could look at experimentation as just adding to that employee exhaustion, like, you know, you go to employees, hey, we're gonna try this new experiment with work. And they turn to you and say, "Really, right now? I mean, after all we've been through and all that we're continuing to go through with all of that."

So do you see that? And if so, how would you combat that sort of feeling that employees may have that leadership is kind of forcing this onto them once again?

Jim: Yeah, I do see that and I would tell them to do more Pick Your Nic. And I don't necessarily mean that facetiously. But it's more of those types of engagement, kind of nudges and moments that you bring into the organization. It's a lack of those things where people are fatigued, right? I got invited to speak on panel about workplace boredom and exhaustion, like you were talking about as well too, that if you make work, whether it's remote hybrid or in person, if you make it fun and engaging, and I really mean playful.

There's no reason why work can't be playful. Not in terms of playing games, it's not about the foosball tables and the beanbag chairs. And I also don't mean playful, like finger-painting in the corner. I mean a playful mindset, one that's open and learning and you're engaging with your colleagues, and you're taking the topics that you have at hand and really trying to engage with them.

I think if you provide that environment that really helps overcome some of those symptoms that you mentioned,

Siobhan: I never thought that Nicolas Cage was going to emerge as the panacea for the workplace. This is amazing.

Mike: We need to get him on the podcast, Siobhan.

Siobhan: I know next guest. So I love this idea of bringing play into the workplace and thinking of those people who said, we don't want the real estate to go to waste, the real estate is not going to be delivering innovation.

But I think part of what we are seeing with these organizations that are doing hybrid work is a certain amount of flexibility in how they negotiate this with employees, how they balance these needs of employees and their own needs. So how do you encourage this flexibility? Like how do you manage flexibility?

Jim: Yeah, it's a really great question. We have an activity that just kind of demonstrate how tricky this can be, where we take a team of, let's say, six people and we say, you have a 5-day week. Design your ideal week if you had the flexibility to go into the office two days a week, or three days a week, and then work from somewhere else. If you take six people, you get almost no overlap when they're actually going to be in the office together.

I think giving flexibility is great. But then it brings up the question of coordination. When are you going to be in the office together? How are you going to coordinate? Who's where? How are you even going to know if you're facilitating a workshop or a meeting, how are you going to know where the people are as they're going to attend? Are you going to have one person in person and 10 people remote, or the other way around? Because guess what, I might need two sets of facilitation instructions.

So flexibility, I believe is overall good. But it does bring up some challenging questions, which we've been working on here at MURAL and I think maybe we're one step ahead of the game. But we continue to learn as well, too. And I think that's part of this big experiment that we're all part of. And it's really exciting for me to see the inventiveness and what devices people come up with to deal with some of the challenges.

Mike: Alright, Jim, to close out our conversation I want to pick up on that point, because we are going through this grand experiment, and nobody knows what is ultimately going to be the result of all of that experimentation and this reboot that we're going through with work. But if you were to say, in your opinion, what the best possible outcome of all of this is, what would that be?

Jim: I do think it's not just better work or more innovation, or I kind of steer away from the word productivity. I like to talk about creativity and imagination and, and innovation and things like that. But yeah, okay, we can say productivity as well too, that all of that is even better than it had been previously.

But I think more than that, I kind of hinted at this earlier. It's also lifestyle. That it gives people flexibility, not in when they can work and where they can work from, but it gives them flexibility in their lives. And I think that's really important, too. You know, we talk about workplace satisfaction and workplace happiness. Why don't we just talk about happiness in general? Because I think these days people bring their whole selves to work with them. Right? And the you do anyway, right? Teams are made up of human beings and you always bring yourself to work, and if, I don't know, if your workforce if your teams are happier they'll do better work.

Siobhan: I love that idea of compartmentalizing happiness, like, oh, this is my workplace happiness. This is my in my living room happiness. It makes sense, though. I mean just talk about happiness.

So, Jim, thank you so much for joining us today. If people want to learn more about you, if they want to see maybe your TED Talk, where should they go to find out about you?

Jim: Sure, I love to connect with people on LinkedIn. I also around this time last year on the heels of my last book called The Jobs to Be Done Playbook. I also launched a website called The Jobs to Be Done Toolkit, it's, and we do these monthly webinars that are kind of community driven. It's very open forum. It's mostly Q&A so it's not a kind of a typical webinar, where people get to come and ask questions, you know, particularly about jobs to be done. On Twitter you can find me at @JimKalbach.

Siobhan: Fantastic. Thank you again, Jim. And I'm gonna think of you every time I watch a Nicolas Cage movie now.

Jim: Thanks for having me on the show. It was a great conversation. Thanks, guys.

Mike: Well, that was a great conversation with Jim. It was about what's this topic called again, I recently heard about it, "the hybrid workplace." So just just now hearing about this, Siobhan, how about you?

Siobhan: Super now? Super wow. You're right, Mike, I haven't heard anything about the hybrid workplace at all.

Mike: It's totally crazy, though, that we are continuing to have this conversation. We've been having this conversation for a year. But I think the thing that Jim brought home for me is something that I've heard a couple of times, and that is really to be doing experiments to try out things. Because we don't know how it's going to ultimately shake out.

So just try little experiments with little teams, you know, get folks together, get them talking to one another and really use that as a springboard to figure out what this is going to look like next. What stood out to you from Jim's thoughts here?

Siobhan: I have to say that the running experiments, it just makes so much sense because that's basically how work is going to look moving forward, I think. We don't know what anything is,  that that was one thing Jim kept saying is we don't know the final answer. And I think experimentation and building that sort of muscle memory to experiment constantly is going to help build resilience for organizations in the long run.

Mike: Yeah. And to bring it back to jazz too, right. It's being experimental. It's improvisation. And, but it's all done with an intention. And that is really I think, what Jim is saying, it's like, you know what, we don't know what the ultimate answer is going to be, but let's be intentional about figuring it out together. And that's how we'll make this work. So yeah, I had a lot of fun with that about you, Siobhan.

Siobhan: I'm gonna go listen to some Charles Mingus now.

Mike: Right. I will catch up with you after. Have a great day.

Siobhan: You too, 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.


Featured Research

Related Stories

colleagues laughing

Employee Experience

Invest in Brand Strategy to Boost Employee Retention and Happiness

Orange water safety device hung on to a wall

Employee Experience

How to Create Psychological Safety in the Workplace

person waving hello with their  shadow waving back on a teal wall

Employee Experience

Goodbye Employee Engagement, Hello Employee Thriving

Digital Workplace Experience Q4: October 12-13, 2022

DWX22 - Q4