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Change the environment, not the people

At just over six minutes long, this particular exchange between Scott and I in our recent interview is really thought-provoking. Scott talks about how he thinks that personalisation within the workplace is key. “Let’s offer a personal service for every single employee” he suggests.

When we put this into the context of our theme of ‘difference’, personalisation is key to unlocking, seeing and accepting differences. We are saying that we see each person completely separately and uphold their individuality.

Who we are and how we behave is determined by multiple factors so it’s a complex area – a human melting pot of biology and psychology. We aren’t meant to work within a collectively bargained set of rules, we operate at a personal level and respond best when we are treated as individuals. If you are most effective working six shorter days, then why can’t you? If you like working in a quiet space by yourself, then why can’t you? If you prefer two short breaks instead of one long one, then why can’t you? I know larks, owls and everyone in between. One of my associates is less useful after 3pm but works like a trojan at 7.30am. Why would we shoe-horn her into a 9-5 pattern of working? Who does it serve?

Obviously having as many rules as you do people is quite hard to police but there has to be a mix of trust from the employer matched equally through loyalty from the employee. I think if we aim for this then what Scott is saying is that we will end up with a workforce of people who are all working for a common goal in their own unique ways, drawing on the best of each person.

We are faced with personalisation everywhere we turn – everything we are sold, from Costa to Sky TV, makes life all about us – who we are, what we like, how we are likely to respond. Amazon knows each of us better than our own families! My Kindle suggests my next read very accurately. Scott made the observation that as more personalisation surrounds us outside of the workplace so we will come to need the same treatment at work or we’ll leave. We might stay, but we’d do so unhappily - and we all know where that leads.

Scott makes a really interesting point, saying that there is little evidence to show that people actually change. When faced with serious health advice to the severity of “change your habits or you will die” people mostly still don’t make the changes they are being offered. He is certain that we should change the environment and allow people to respond to it.

Making wholesale changes is probably an overwhelming consideration right now, especially as we are already working through unknown territory. But inching towards a more personalised culture, working with people, getting the best from them, is definitely a post-lockdown legacy we should all seek to adopt, one person at a time.

“If the environment is right, people will respond” says Scott. We tend to agree.

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