The fifth episode of Dawn and Kate from the Hart: What’s the value of employee workshops?

Join us as our own Dawn Monde and Katherine Beal dive into the tools and workshops we utilized to engage our incredible employees in the planning and design process of 55 Hartland Street!

Watch the fifth episode on LinkedIn here: 

Read the full transcript below:


Hi, I’m Kate Beal. And I’m Dawn Monde. And we’re from Red Thread. Today, we’re going to talk about tools and workshops we used to engage employees in the planning and design process of our space at 55 Hartland Street!

Dawn Monde  0:18

So when we started out, and we talked about this previously, employee engagement is a huge aspect and leadership involvement in the planning of our space. So the first thing we started out with was a tool called the leadership discovery exercise. So that was a tool that was used with our local leaders to really talk about what elements they felt were important to support from a business results standpoint for our space. And we went through the exercise with our leaders, we summarized that data, and we were able to provide that to the design team as they started out on their journey.

Kate Beal  0:49

What were some of the key findings from that?

Dawn Monde  0:52

So a lot of the key findings were bringing people together for collaboration, being able to work together to come up with innovative solutions, being able to support remote as something that was part of our long term strategy, really just trying to understand the key business objectives that we needed to get out of the space, which a lot of which, because we’re in an innovative business, were around that collaboration and that problem solving and being really able to do that very rapidly. And then the Work Modes assessment. I mean, you experienced it, I experienced it, it was really interesting, I think so when you when you look at what we did, we used a tool that Steelcase has called the Work Modes assessment. And basically, that focused us on analyzing across our organization, the type of work people were doing, and when they were doing it.

Kate Beal  1:39

What we did was use an app or computer to identify how we were spending our time each day and just broke out our time into I think, 15 minute or half hour blocks, it was very user friendly. So we got a high rate of participation, which was important for getting our data back in an accurate way. And some of the things that we found were that people were spending a lot more time doing individual work than we initially thought. And so that allowed us to change our perspective and our goals on the design of the space to include more spaces that support individual work, and not only larger collaborative spaces.

Dawn Monde  2:18

And I think the other real benefit of that tool, from my perspective was we weren’t asking people what they wanted, we were asking them what they were doing and trying to understand who they were working with, what types of tests they were, and how they would prefer to be working, whether that was how they were doing it at that moment or not. And so I think a lot of companies get a little nervous about asking employees for feedback, because they’re concerned that it’s going to become more of a wish list and that employees are going to really be driving to things that aren’t necessarily investments that the organization wants to make. So I think the one you know, in addition to the big aha of the results, I think the one real benefit of taking it from that perspective was really looking at what are the tasks? Who are you working with? When is that happening? So you could really start to think about in the space, what types of spaces needed to be in our physically present space. And when maybe some of those peaks would be, what types of work would be being done, and what kinds of technology needed to support it.

Kate Beal  3:19

Absolutely, it allowed us to see the time of day that people were working the most. And we broke it out by department. So you could see the differences and how different types of people were working based on their job function.

Dawn Monde  3:32

So we took the data from that work mode assessment, and we were very open and honest and broad groups of employees through a workshop.

Kate Beal  3:40

Yep, absolutely. So those were done remotely, because we were out of our space at that time. But we facilitated them. And it was just a series of discussions with employees around what the data that came out was why did they think the data came out the way that it did? How did it how did they feel like it related to them, and we were able to take those insights. And it added of a really personal level, to the to the overall data that we collected. So we had this quantitative information, and then we were able to add the qualitative piece to it.

Dawn Monde  4:13

And I think it really just helped to continue to keep employees engaged in the journey, and really make it very authentic to them. We knew what we thought when we looked at the work mode assessment data, but to be able to share it with them and see from their lens what they thought it meant. We didn’t draw any conclusions ahead of time when we shared it with them. It was just very open dialogue. And I think people really felt like they had a voice in the process through that.

Kate Beal  4:36

And then as we got close to move in and the design was complete, we worked on protocols, and instead of creating a list of rules, I thought from an employee perspective, this was great that instead of leadership coming down with a list of rules for how to use the space, we all got to sit in and say these are the things that matter to us. This is how we want our home that we all have ownership over to be treated. So this is the things that in the past have bothered us that we’d like to see a rule around or protocols based on where maybe we don’t want people to eat lunch at their desks or, you know, that has a two fold. You want people to commute to have community time together, but also keep the desk areas nice and clean, since we’re sharing them, or another protocol that came out was, you know, wearing headphones when you’re on a call or stepping away, and what types of calls are acceptable and where within the space. So, you know, going through each neighborhood having its own purpose, some places calls are allowed in some places they aren’t. But that was all mainly dictated by employees.

Dawn Monde  5:41

Which I think brings a lot of power to it. Plus, we added a little humor to it as we tried to keep it funny and light because nobody wants to read, you know, 12 pages of shalt not, you know, warm up your fish in the microwave. But I think it really did give a lot of ownership in the process to employees.

Kate Beal  5:58

Absolutely. And it makes it more – it makes it easier to follow the rules that you want.

Dawn Monde  6:01

Right? And then my favorite, the post occupancy. So fast forward six months after moving. And again, this was another workshop that you participated in and help to facilitate.

Kate Beal  6:17

Absolutely, I mean, it can’t be easier really to do, just identifying areas that are really working for us and what we love about the space, and we can kind of come together and celebrate those things. And then we can use red dots to illuminate areas that maybe aren’t working or areas that some small tweaks would fix. So we did that with the employees, it was the exercise and then a discussion, we did it in several small groups. And then we compiled it all it’s back here. And as the leadership group, were able to come through and figure out what changes needed to be made so that the space continues to work really well for everybody. And the areas that aren’t working get improved.

Dawn Monde  6:58

And we’re not sticking to our guns in terms of our initial planning, if there’s areas that aren’t working well, and we conceived a feminist certain way, and they’re not supporting the way our employees work, we’re willing to change them. Obviously, we’ve made a major investment in the space as we know, some of our clients will be doing as well. And some of these changes don’t need to be major, they can be adding dual monitor arms in different locations or, you know, shifting product around the space to help to support the way people are adapting to using the space. So it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Kate Beal  7:28

People had a lot of really positive feedback. And the negative things were things that were so easy to fix. It’s like thank goodness, we asked, because it’s as simple as putting a monitor arm on a desk, it’s, you know, the main investments holds true.

Dawn Monde  7:42

And so we’re in the process of planning some of those things now and we haven’t rolled them out. But when we do, hopefully employees will continue to see that their voice is being heard even after we’ve moved in. And as we’re continuing to adopt this new work model. We’re really proud of the way that we’ve engaged our employees through workshops in the various tools. I’m not sure which tools will come next after we’ve made some of the modifications from this, but we do know we’re committed to continuing to engage our employees to help improve the experience for ourselves in our workplace Innovation Hub, and also to share our experiences with the community.

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