Interaction's Thrivalism

The Human-Centric Workplace with Simone Fenton-Jarvis

October 04, 2022 Season 4 Episode 2
The Human-Centric Workplace with Simone Fenton-Jarvis
Interaction's Thrivalism
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Interaction's Thrivalism
The Human-Centric Workplace with Simone Fenton-Jarvis
Oct 04, 2022 Season 4 Episode 2

In this episode we talk to Simone Fenton-Jarvis, author of The Human-Centric Workplace.  We discuss what makes a workplace great as opposed to just good, common mistakes companies make as they try and build their culture and how many people could share a single satsuma.  Simone is a proponent for making workplace culture brilliant and making workplace experiences better for everyone. And she's really passionate about making businesses do that and holding them accountable. It's a great chat. 

Thanks for listening! Check out Interaction's website for more workplace culture content and case studies (or just follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter).

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode we talk to Simone Fenton-Jarvis, author of The Human-Centric Workplace.  We discuss what makes a workplace great as opposed to just good, common mistakes companies make as they try and build their culture and how many people could share a single satsuma.  Simone is a proponent for making workplace culture brilliant and making workplace experiences better for everyone. And she's really passionate about making businesses do that and holding them accountable. It's a great chat. 

Thanks for listening! Check out Interaction's website for more workplace culture content and case studies (or just follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter).

Simone Fenton-Jarvis: The best workplaces in the world with, you know, the fruit bowls and the yoga and the massage chairs and outdoor spaces, everything that's not going to cover everything. It's about purpose and the purpose of what the work is, why they're working towards it. The office workers can work from anywhere. People wanting to go back to the office is the increase I've seen recently. And it's not just because our energy bills are increased at home and we don't want to heat our houses despite some newspaper articles. It is because we miss people and we want to be around people knowing that we are moving towards direction that is linked to the purpose. 


Toby Brown: Hello and welcome to Interaction's Thrivalism. I'm Toby Brown, Head of Marketing at Interaction, and in this episode I'm having a chat with Simon Fenton Jarvis, author of The Human-Centric Workplace. Simone is a proponent for making workplace culture brilliant and making workplace experiences better for everyone. And she's really passionate about making businesses do that and holding them accountable. So it's a great chat. We cover a lot of ground from the sins of the office fruit bowl to the different types of organisational culture you commonly find - well worth a listen. Also well worth checking out Simone’s book. See you at the end.  


Simone Fenton-Jarvis, welcome to Thrivalism. Amazing to have you on. 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: Thanks for having me. 


Toby Brown: Absolute pleasure. I've spent the past couple of days reading your book, The Human-Centric Workplace. It's a really good read, very optimistic about how things can be, which is brilliant. We'll dive into that in more detail. But obviously I think probably best to start with a bit of an intro from you first. So do you want to give us a bit of background as to who you are and what you're up to at the moment. And we'll maybe go into how you got there as well. 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: Yeah, sure. Yeah. So, yeah, I work for a company in Canada called Relogix. We are a data analytics company that uses data to drive employee experience. So that's my kind of my my day job. And then on top of all of that, I do a lot of volunteer work. So Institute of Workplace Facilities Management, I'm now a non-exec director there and also a fellow, so do lots of webinars and speaking with them and just trying to guide the direction really. So lots of these kind of side hustles projects that sit alongside my full time job that probably just drives my wife absolutely insane. 


Toby Brown: If you look on LinkedIn, you've got a lot of letters after your name. What which ones have you collected? Can you even remember? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: I'm trying. Yeah. I've got a degree in PE, which is my where I first started was going to be a PE teacher, then I did an MBA in facilities management and then the others think would be the fellow of workplace facilities management. 


Toby Brown: That's that seems about right. I mean we can fact check it after to check you out. So the jump from PE to sort of facilities management is quite a weird pivot.  


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: I was working in facilities management while I was doing my degree. So I was doing that and then I finished my degree, went into teaching, and within about three weeks I thought, this is not for me, which was a very weird and awkward moment after you've spent about 15 years saying you're going to be a PE teacher and spent about £40,000 getting a degree, it was a bit frustrating. I'm not going to lie. So I decided to go back into facilities management because a job came up. But the organisation where I was working, so I went back there and then yeah, within, I don't know, within even a few months I was like, actually I like this. It felt like my natural habitat. 


Toby Brown: So what was it in those first few weeks of teaching that made you go, No, not having this. 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: Kid set off a firework in the canteen. So that was pretty nice introduction. 


Toby Brown: Yeah, that's pretty cool. Then was it at you or just generally around the canteen? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: Just generally bouncing around the canteen. 


Toby Brown: Okay. Just in your vicinity?  


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: I was on duty, so I had to try and get the kids safe. And nobody teaches you on how to stop a firework bouncing around the canteen, so. 


Toby Brown: Yeah, yeah. Not on the curriculum. 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: Exactly. Yeah. So yeah. And I think just that in the mix of being a 20 something year old and going to work at six in the morning, finishing six at night and then going home to do marking planning for two, 3 hours, I felt like I had no life. It was just really hard. [00:05:00] I know, you know, teachers that say, Oh yeah, we get lots of holidays. Do you know what they in reality, it's it's not worth it because of the amount of work that you're actually doing for the other weeks of the year. And then you end up actually spending all your holidays doing work anyway. So on the surface, it might look great, but it's not. 


Toby Brown: And on the flip side of that, what was it about facilities management that you're like, Oh, I'm starting to like this? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: I think the challenge and the just the different day to day. Like I never knew what was going to come next, which at times was obviously a little bit kind of anxiety inducing. But I was managing a facility that had 200 properties on it, a leisure centre. So for me it was one day I'm dealing with the swimming pool and making sure chlorine levels are fine and the next day I could have an apartment that was flooded or electrics of our or and it was just this like everything was just different every single day and there was just lots of residents that were obviously relied on me to keep their experience high. So I just really enjoyed it. 


Toby Brown: Yeah. I mean, although dealing with a flooding apartment, I'd probably prefer to be dealing with a fire work and a kids canteen, I think. 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: Yeah, it was pretty, pretty hard when you've got somebody looking at you going, Can you stop my apartment from flooding, please? 


Toby Brown: Eventually, yes, of course. Run out of water. 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: Yeah! 


Toby Brown:. So obviously over the course of your professional experience, you've got the loads of knowledge and information. You've done a huge amount of research on the workplace and what it means. You've written the Human-centric Workplace, which is really, like I said, an optimistic, positive, quite uplifting read about what the future of work could look like for progressive companies. You're quite distinct in that book about what a human-centric workplace looks like, as opposed to an old fashioned, sort of non-functional, vaguely toxic workplace. Do you want to just describe what that human-centric workplace looks like to you, what you mean by that? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: You know, ultimately, as you can imagine, putting people first and making sure that the people are being looked after to drive the business forward. And there's a key bit here as well in that, you know, it's not a perfect place and perfect workplaces don't exist yet. I'm optimistic, but it's the difference between aiming for better and working towards better, knowing that you want to get to a better place or just accepting that you're in this like toxic waste land, then you're happy being there and you don't see the problem. And I think that's the difference really in that human-centricity. So many organisations that are moving towards how do we listen to people and make sure that we're working in a way that they are also thriving? You know, the difference between somebody finishing work slumped in front of Netflix because they've got no energy and they hate the job compared to somebody finishing work and thinking, you know what, I'm going to go to the gym. I'm doing some volunteering afterwards and I'm doing this and I'm full of energy and I want to go and make a difference in the world like it is them small but massive things that make a difference. 


Toby Brown: That's really interesting because one of the points I wanted to get to was I think it's really apparent what the difference between a let's just call it a toxic workplace for shorthand and a human centric workplaces. But it's a bit more difficult to parse the differences between a quite good workplace. You've got decent intentions and really human-centric workplace where everybody is thriving and doing their best work and living their best lives. So what are some of those signals that you might be one or the other as an organisation? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: I talk about it and it's about the data. We've got to capture data and it's 2 minutes. So when a good workplace is it's about 90% of people want X, Y and Z. So we're going to give it to them. And then we've got the human-centric workplace and the human-centric workplace still caters for them 10% that don't want necessarily what the other 90% want. So it's about listening to individuals as well as the collective. But I think, you know, the data and getting to the bottom really of what it means to be human-centric, you know, it's like nine measures that I've laid out and it's from employee engagement to profitability of the company to wellbeing right through to what customers feel and then thinking as well about your teams. So there's lots of ways that we can measure it. It's really about don't ignore that 10%. 


Toby Brown: And what you mentioned there, the link between profitability and wellness and you draw some direct parallels and some stats in your book of companies where the staff are happy and well performing better in terms of both profit and productivity. What drives up when you get happy staff? Why do they drive the company better? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: I'm sure we've all had them days in the past where you go to work a little bit groggy and you're like, Oh God, what is it, 4:00, 5:00 yet? And we've all had them days. It's 9:10. Like, how was it only 10:00. Great.  

And it's the difference between them organisations where people are doing that on a regular basis and they are looking at the clock and there's a lot of research at [00:10:00] the moment around like quietly quitting the people that are doing the bare minimum day in, day out, just getting paid and that's on the rise off the back of the pandemic. So you look at that and then you think, okay, so how do we make sure that people are well, they're not suffering from burnout. They're not suffering from stress. They've got the support that they need away from the workplace, but also in the workplace. And that people, you know, the direct line manager is aware as well of how they can support them because often people are hiding it and they're not talking about it to the manager and it's just going to work and thinking, I'm a robot, I'm at work, people don't work like that. So I think it goes back to that good leadership. And ultimately, if we can make sure that people are well, they're going to perform better at work and all the data points in that direction because people are just more effective. 


Toby Brown: One of the other questions sort of coming from that, I guess if you're a manager of quite a large group of people and some of them are remote and you're not seeing them face to face that much, how you're a big proponent in the book of being cognisant of what's going on with individuals. How do you do that at scale? If you've got a group of 20, 30 people reporting to you, how do you track that and understand if something's a bit quiet, you're not really seeing them? A couple of zoom catch ups? How do you get to the bottom of what's really going on in their life? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: It's not easy, and I think it starts with having the right intent to being aware and building that. Culture around as well, where all the team-mates can also ask that person if they're alright and it's a colleague checking in on another colleague. And if a colleague thinks actually this person is actually struggling and not coming forward, then it's about as well going to lead and saying I'm not here to break confidence, but you need to have a catch up with that person because they're not all right. So I think creating that culture of openness, for starters, I managed I think my biggest team I managed was about 34 people. And I obviously, course, tried to practice what I preach. It is hard, but you've just got to make time for it and you know that it's worth it because if you get your team performing you as a leader, you know, you can you don't have to keep the foot on the gas constantly and be five eight and if you've got your team around you, so it is worth it. Sometimes it's easier to solve things yourself than let somebody else do it. And I think you just need to be aware of and catch yourself doing that. I think actually I need to I need to lean on my team here. 


Toby Brown: Right. It's just sort of a transparent enablement of others. You talk a lot about what genuinely makes employees happy at work as well. And you know, you say it isn't fruit bowls and yoga, it's more sort of intrinsic things. Do you want to outline what some of those things are? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: Yeah, sure. You know, the best workplace in the world with, you know, the fruit bowls and the yoga and the massage chairs and outdoor spaces, everything that's not going to cook everything. It's about purpose and the purpose of what they're working towards, why they're working towards it. But I think also the the people that you're working with, as we've seen from the pandemic, we can work generally. The office workers anyway can work from anywhere, people wanting to go back to the office. And this is the increase I've seen recently. And it's not just because our energy bills are increased at home and we don't want to heat our houses despite some newspaper articles. It is because we miss people and we want to be around people knowing that we are moving towards direction that is linked to the purpose that spark, that buzz that you get around when you're in an office with people. I'm a fully remote worker. I go to Canada to see my team quarterly. It works great for me, so I'm not suggesting that everyone needs to go back to the office. I'm not going to be, let's say, an outlier on that. But I, I am I'm quite aware that there's time in a place for the office and that that depends on the individual and their life circumstances and the role that they're doing as well. 


Toby Brown: So it depends on the individual what's the role of and we've touched on it briefly, but what's the role of leadership in a human centric organisation? What's the leadership there to do and what what should they be exhibiting and how should they be behaving? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: Yeah. So I guess if we talk about the middle management first, middle managers, a really, really important way, more important than they get credit for, you know, doing that filtering from the top of the organisation to the people on the ground, making sure that what is the decisions that are being made and the people are taking into account throughout the decisions. But then if you look at the top kind of level manager setting the values of the organisation, looking at the speed that things go in, at the things of how it affects the people, you know, leaders, leaders are the role models and you cannot drive change in an organisation by saying you people behave like this, but we'll behave like this. So thinking one organisation that says we've got a flat hierarchy, we're not about hierarchy. I want you to come and speak to the CEO [00:15:00] at any point in the week. You know, we're all about transparency. Go, go speak to them. The actual behaviours day to day is that CEO drives up to the workplace. They've got their own private parking space. They walk into the office to their private office, not in the open with everybody else. They have their own mug and they don't want to share the mugs that everybody else is using because you know, it's full of germs and all of these. And this is real, not one organisation that's coming into my head here. They talk the most in meetings. They talk over people in meetings. That's not setting the expectation that this is a human centric workplace that is transparent and flat and is there for everybody to feedback whenever they want it. Just start at the top. 


Toby Brown: And what are some mistakes you see companies making where they're trying to move to a more human-centric workplace, but they might just get stuff a bit wrong even though they've got good intentions. What? But some things you see there. 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: Yeah. So put in unlimited holiday allowances then when people are already feeding back the they don't have time to do their day to day job, they don't have time to take holidays, the stress, the burnout. And it's like, here's a plaster for that. You can take unlimited holidays and then go in. Can't take the holidays that I'm entitled to. How am I going to take unlimited holidays? So I think that's one. I think the second one is the whole thing around. Yeah. The free fruit in the office. Free fruit in the office. When it's 20 Satsuma as to go between 500 people, that's not going to cut it. 


Toby Brown: I'm just trying to work out how many segments there are on a Satsuma, whether you can make that work. Somebody will have to chew the rinds, probably. 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: Exactly. But yeah, like, if you're going to do things like that, it's going to you know, you don't want people running to the fruit bowl because they know Thursdays is when they top the fruit bowl up.  


Toby Brown: It's crazy. I always think with the unlimited holiday thing, it's just introducing an element of uncertainty that then leads to stress. So I've worked with companies before who their expenses policy was. We're not going to tell you what your expenses budget is, but if you go over it, you'll get a shoeing and that keeps everyone underspending and always a bit scared of getting a shoeing from it. And I think it's the same with the holiday policy, isn't it? And I've seen a lot of companies recently on social say we did have it - everyone didn't use it or hated it. So we're giving 36 days a year or 30 days year or whatever the holiday numbers are. And that seems a much more transparent way to do it. 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: Yeah. No, you know, as people, we like boundaries. We need to know where where we're at. We want to know the rules of the game and unlimited holiday allowance. It's oh, it's not limit holiday allowance. However, what's going to happen if I suddenly take 200 days off? Oh, well, I'm going to get called this, this and this. I'm not going to get my job done. I'm not going to. So there's always the the kind of the the effects of doing things like that. I mean, I, I've got an unlimited holiday allowance at Relogix and when we put it in, which was actually not that long ago, it was a case of we're doing this because we want to encourage you to take more time off, but you need to take a minimum of X days. All of the approvals go by managers to make sure that operationally it's not going to have a negative impact on the organisation and make sure we've still got cover for customers and things like that. But when you look at the data and even after a few months, people are not they're not taking the mickey because there's an element of obviously consciousness and doing the right thing. But I think in a way people probably taking less holidays and I think that's what all the research says as well. 


Toby Brown: Yeah, I'd love to hear from a listener maybe who took a job they didn't really want and then just applied for, say, 200 days holiday. That'd be incredible. See what happens. 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: Yep. 


Toby Brown: Part of those boundaries play into creating an atmosphere of psychological safety and people knowing where they stand and being able to experiment and fail and stuff like that. And you talk about that quite a lot in your book, so I'd like to explore that and also the interplay between that imposter syndrome and this idea of holding people in unconditional positive regard, which you mentioned a few times in your book and isn't something that I've come across before. So do you want to unpack what that means a bit? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: Yeah, I think start with the on the positive regard. It's actually something that comes from like more of the therapy world and it's, you know, you can sit in front of a therapy or a coach, you can say whatever you like and then not going to think bad of you. So that's where I came across that within the coaching world and therapy. And I think there's a lot of power to that. And I think this and I've tried to bring this through into leadership because, you know, just because somebody might not be doing something how you want or need them to do it doesn't mean they're a bad person. Just because someone has an off day. And they might say one thing [00:20:00] that you think that was a bit out of order doesn't mean they're a bad person. So it's about making sure that we create in this culture that people can be themselves if they, I guess, overstepped the mark, that you can then coach them through that situation to make sure that it kind of improves in the longer term. I think too many times people are getting shamed for their behaviours or for their thoughts in the workplace and it's all what shame is doing is it's pushing it down and it's making the instead of the person saying things directly in front of the leader, they will go and say it to a colleague instead after the meeting as they walk up the steps away from the meeting room. And that's toxic. So you want people to know that they can say and do whatever they need to say and do at that moment. It doesn't mean that you can think bad of them. So that's the that's where it come from. 


Toby Brown: There was a quote that I made a note of, actually, which is a way to improve people's psychological safety is to view everything as a learning problem rather than an execution problem. And I think that's a really nice way to look at those issues, isn't it? It's a really nice way to filter that stuff. So it's and you have those organisations like Microsoft who have decided to pivot to be a learning organisation and that's certainly changed the entire internal culture where everyone's like you're empowered to go and find out answers and fail and all that sort of stuff. Probably quite hard for some people to let go of their. The power and they're letting people let their employees fail and stuff, too. We've touched on leadership a bit, but there was a principle of conscious leadership as well. You mentioned in your book that I thought was really interesting. So can you just outline what that means a bit? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: So I guess this this big goes back really to some work that I did a few years ago about how do we make sure that we're conscious of the actions that are being taken day to day, that we're moving towards the right direction and we're thinking about the great good as well as the workplace. So the conscious leadership and called Natasha Wallace talks about conscious leadership really good as well to check her out. But ultimately it is about being conscious of not just your impact on your people but the impact of people on you as a leader, the organisation. And it's just being aware and just kind of not having blinkers on and just trying to go towards the right direction, trying to head to avoiding that toxic wasteland and saying actually how can we do the greater good, how can we be conscious and making them good, right and good decisions. 


Toby Brown: In terms of the toxic wasteland stuff, something I think about quite a lot because I've worked at a few places that could be described as toxic possibly. Do you think there's hope for those companies? Can you turn around a toxic organisation? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: I want to be optimistic. I really, really do. But I'm a northerner, so I'm just going to say it. I think some organisations are almost better off just ending the company and starting again because turning that ship around sometimes if you've not got the right leaders, it's never going to change. If that role model is not in place, it's never going to change. So if you've got an organisation of 150,000 people, yes, I guess it is possible to change the direction of the organisation. It's been done before but it needs the right leadership. So I think yes, I'm going to say there is hope, but sometimes some of the organisations think oh just, just start again. So I think because they've not got the right leadership. 


Toby Brown: What we can do is probably come up with a list of those who we'll put in the show notes, right? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: Yeah, exactly. 


Toby Brown: So I work for Interaction, which is an office design and build company and we are quite obsessed with workplace culture and creating amazing ones. And there are in your book four different models of various types of workplace culture which have got stuff that changes with each one and sort of movable parts to them. I find them really interesting. So is the ad hoc Krissy the clan, the hierarchy and the market types of culture. Can you give us a brief synopsis of each one and where you might find one? 

It's a bit of a test isn't it? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: Yeah, it is a bit, yeah. So I guess the plan is ultimately how is that organisation working to with different departments as a team organisation, how are they working towards what they want to achieve? So it's all about we're in it together. You've then got the bureaucracy, which is of course, you know, it's all the rules, this is how you should behave, you know. Sure you can think of organisations like that. The advocacy is ultimately how are we going to create that environment that is positive, moving towards the direction that we need to go in. And the people are encouraging other people as well to move in that same direction. So it's not necessarily leadership led. It's ultimately it's about, again, the togetherness and everybody taking [00:25:00] their part, playing their part and encouraging that behaviours. Last one. What was the last one again? Market. Sorry about that. So the market, this is ultimately, you know, all of them organisations are looking and saying oh what's, what's happening left and right of the organisation, what's LinkedIn saying, what's our competitor saying. If you are focusing on the market element and you're trying to move an organisation in line with what other organisations are doing instead of your why, there's going to be a few challenges there. So it's there's pros and cons of each approach and that's really why I tried to dig into it in the book because it's something that it's a culture kind of leadership tool that I came across a few years ago, but I'm not necessarily coming across it that much. So I was trying to almost raise awareness of it. But I think it's really useful to see, you know, how is your culture of your company actually operating? 


Toby Brown: I hadn't really seen it either. And it was really interesting. And there's elements of each where you say maybe a tech company might be more of an adocracy. And these are the pros and these are the cons of that. These are things to watch out for. Can any of those four become human centric? Would you think you need to be an autocracy or a clan? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: I think you can get a bureaucratic department within an organisation. Is more of a clan organisation. I don't think it's as kind of cut and dry as this or this. And again, even right down to the human centric, I don't think we can say you've got a human centric organisation right across because you never quite know what's happening in the dark corner of an organisation. So again, it's you've got the best intentions, but at the same time this still might be a potential that things are happening that you're not aware of. 


Toby Brown: Always let down by a little bubble in the finance team or something. Yeah. Classic, classic finance. In the book you mentioned that human centric organisations are probably more sustainable than comparable ones. What makes them more sustainable? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: Yeah. So things like. So if you look at the commuting rates pre-pandemic and now and there's obviously still a lot of data that's flying around, but before the pandemic, commuting was increasing between three and 5% year on year across the globe. So if you've got a an organisation, if you extrapolate that out that says we want everybody at a desk, 9 to 5, that's where you're working, that's a lot of commuting that's happening. If you've got an organisation is instead put in the more kind of human element into it and saying, you know what, the world has changed. We've all got different things that we need to focus on outside of our lives as well. Where we work isn't about location, it's about what we're doing, who are we doing it with? And then we can go to location. Then that's going to have a positive impact on the commuting. Now, obviously, the data that's coming out so far is, well, how we're going to measure this, because there's still an impact from people being in their houses. So there's still a sustainability angle there. But I think it's really how does the knock on effect happen? So something that I talked about in the book was let's say you've got an organisation that is coffee, a coffee shop, and that coffee shop is not paying the right tax to Kenya for the coffee beans. And then you've got Kenya and this is a real life example that basically they lose 1.1 billion every single year in corporations not paying their tax, 1.1 billion. If you look at what the health care is, it's half. So you've got 500 million health care bill, but women have got one in 40 chance of dying in childbirth because there's not enough health care. So you kind of go, well, actually then people pay more tax. The countries is more profitable. Everything's more sustainable because and it's about sustainability, not just being about CO2. It's about how is that country thriving as well. 


Toby Brown: About ethics and governance and all the ESG stuff laying out in the ripples from that. And you mentioned the role of location and impact and commuting and things like that. It feels now to me when we ask people what the future of the workplace is, that feels like there's been a sort of consensus solidify over the past few months or so, which is that it's a place for people to come together, create, collaborate, form communities. Would you agree with that? Are people missing stuff still? Where's where's your head at on that? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: I agree with that angle. But again, I think there's also that might be 90% of people. But let's look at the 10% as well. It might be that somebody that has got a difficult home life and they are going to the office because they want to be in another environment to concentrate. It might be that they live next to somebody who's just got a puppy and is barking all day and the need to go to an office for some peace and quiet. This is [00:30:00] this is all happening. And all of that feedback has come through surveys and things that I've done. So, yes, people want to go to the office for people and to collaborate, but I think to get it right, we can't miss that element of let's look at how and when people contemplate in how and when people concentrate in collaborating. When is the best place to be curious? When are we communicating best? And there's a time and place for all of that. And I think it's really what you're working on. Who are you working with that will determine where you're going to be? Sit, where are you going to be sat? And if the answer is, Well, I'm working on this and I'm working on it by myself, that's when then the personal circumstances come in and say, You know what? I'm hopeless working at home to concentrate because I'll just start emptying the dishwasher as people keep quoting, you know, and I'll not be able to just concentrate. I'll just be in my house. And people sometimes are best just leaving the house to have a change of environment, to really focus. So it really depends on the individual, the personality type and how they work. And, you know, again, tie back to mental health as well if someone's got a mental health challenge where they're going to work best. There's not a straightforward answer to that. 


Toby Brown: Sometimes the answer is sort of counterintuitive. Because it might be good for somebody to be out of the house and connected, but actually it's the last thing they want to do. So whereas the employer's role in responsibilities in that equation, it's a tricky one. What's your sort of hopes for how things pan out for the next five years or so? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: Yeah, my hopes are everybody reads my book and we start creating a world just a bit nicer. So that's my hope. But if I'm going to be a little bit more on the ground, I think my hope really is that we don't lose track of the progress that was made during the pandemic around how people are being trusted to work from anywhere, how we accept that there's a bigger thing than work. Like, I love work. I love my job. But it's not it's not still not the be all and end all yet. You know, when I'm sat for 15 hour days potentially working because I know I need to get through something. Am I sat there thinking, Oh, this is feeling like the be all and end all? Sometimes. But actually the pandemic has reminded me as well that this is my life outside, away from work, and we can't lose that. So I think there's a bit of an element of resetting our boundaries, resetting what was done for. I think the other thing as well that I think is really been great and all of this is just that community feel. So knowing that before the pandemic as well, you didn't know the names of your neighbours or the old guy down the road that can't even put it on wheelie bin out and now someone is doing that for him. 


Toby Brown: Yeah. I want to go back to those days. 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: My place is in the whole world of work and how we're working. We don't lose sight of what is happening outside of the workplace because there's a lot of people struggling day to day. And, you know, as people, it's how can we support and help them as a community? And I'm not necessarily saying, you know, let's go back to the days where we knock on for a cup of sugar, but let's let's not lose sight of of work isn't everything. 


Toby Brown: Keep those connections we made across everything. Quickfire one on. So we're recording this the day after that CEO guy went viral on LinkedIn for crying after he had made some of his staff redundant. That divided Linkedin. 50/50. I think with people going, You're an idiot. Just doing it for engagement and other people going, This is transparent leadership at its finest. Where do you fall on that? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: I think transparent leadership at its finest. Making redundancies is the hardest thing. When you dismiss somebody, there's always a reason. Making redundancies it is. Horrific, like for someone that is very, very much of an empath. So sitting in front of someone, especially on teams and making redundancies is awful. So there is that element, I think going on LinkedIn showing you tears and look at how bad it is for me. I don't necessarily agree with that behaviour. I think it's potentially a bit misguided. I think he's kind of tried it had the best intentions by saying this is awful, I'm showing my human side. But again, it's a bit like, is this a bit like Facebook where somebody put something on that says, I've had a really bad day and then someone goes, Why? What's the matter? And they go, Oh, no, it don't matter. It's like it a bit attention seeking. Yeah. Don't want to go ask my wife on social media then, so I don't know if it's there. It's he is not got an outlook and he wants to put it on LinkedIn because he wants to share with the world how hard he felt, which is fine, but also what he's feeling at the moment is probably nothing compared to what the person just being made redundant is. . 


Toby Brown: I sort of understand his desire to share that. I think the bit that I stumble [00:35:00] over is the idea of taking a photo of yourself while you're crying. Because you probably have to take ten, don't you? I mean, you're like, okay, that's definitely the best one. I look most sad in that one. That's the one I use. That's where I fall over a bit on that one. It's a bit weird. I didn't really have time to wrap up now, but I didn't really want to finish on a note about people crying redundancies. I turn around to say, Okay, can I read you a quick quote from your book that I really liked as well, which is that space matters. We read a physical environment like we read a human face. Was that was that one of your quotes or was that attributed to somebody? I can't remember. 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: I think it's attributed to somebody. If it's mine, then great. But and I think it is somebody else's. 


Toby Brown: We'll put it in the show notes. I would if I were you, I would claim that one for now and I'll double check it. And if it isn't, yeah. We'll just, just pass it on. That's, that's really nice quote. I think that's something we think about a lot, how people interpret their environment and it influences everything you do even if you're not aware of it. So super interesting chart. Thank you so much for coming on. Where do people find out more about you? 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: So LinkedIn try to be active at the moment I'm really struggling because time has been awful, but I try to be active on LinkedIn. I've also got a website which is So you can check out that as well. 


Toby Brown: Awesome. We will link to that as show notes. Smile in front of Jarvis. Thank you very much for coming on to be lovely. Cheers. 


Simone Fenton-Jarvis: Yeah, you too. 


Toby Brown: Thank you. I hope you enjoyed that episode with Simon. Fascinating guests. Do check our book, The Human Centric Workplace, available at all good bookstores. Similarly, if you like the podcast, do give us a good review on your platform of choice and we'll see you on the next episodes.