What Makes a Happy Workplace?

INTERVIEW WITH CLARE BAILEY

No matter your age or gender, everybody’s day has been radically changed because of Covid. Offices have been replaced with kitchen tables, restaurants, pubs actually all forms of physical entertainment have replaced by screens. Radical changes bring out questions,“What do you value? What is most important to you? How do you want to live? How do you want to work post pandemic?” 

There is , of course not one answer, but made me ask “what does a happy workplace look like in the first place?” and who better to speak to than Claire Bailey, Director for Commercial Research at Savills Property in London. She writes extensively on what constitutes a happy, productive workplace as well as diversity, flexible working and the changing landscapes of our cities. 

As part of the Le Ster Inspiring Women Series, we will be finding out a little more about Claire as a person, the secret ingredients  for a happy workplace and Clare’s tips for an instant “pick-me-up” .


Tell us about yourself, what projects are you involved in now?

As the Director of Commercial Research at Savills I create thought-led pieces that inform people of what is going on in the property sectors. It is fascinating, I cover a broad range, but topics close to my heart are diversity, ways of putting wellness in the workplace and sustainability. 

There has been so much change within the industry over the last 15 years. Landlords are realising that they have to work with their tenants to create an environment that is going to attract top talent. Local councils are realising that they have champion their cities; create cities and places that people want to live. Environments with a happy and productive atmosphere are no longer a luxury but an important component of a thriving community.

 

What helps create a happy working environment?

So many things. Don’t know where to start. But people that use the space must become part of the conversation, they must feel involved in the decisions  in how their workspace looks, feels and is used. 

Then there is the mechanics of urban design, it is fascinating. Did you know that there is a concept of “designing out loneliness?” by creating situations that increase the chances of people discovering unexpected chemistry. Where you decide to put architectural features and simple things like the water cooler will all have an impact on the likelihood of people bumping into each other, starting conversations, starting relationships. 

Most important to remember is that spaces with attention to design, make you feel appreciated and it makes the work you do, feel important.

 

What trends should we expect over the next year? 

Given how productive we have all been working from home, I think the idea of productivity being sitting at a desk in a office, 5 days a week for nine hours is unlikely. I suspect some degree of flexability in the workplace will continue. For instance working from the office 3 days a week and 2 days a week from home. It is actually something I have been campaigning for a long time, as it gives a better work like balance without decreasing the amount of work done. 

Other themes which I think will gain in momentum is sustainability. People want to know where products come from and are gravitating towards choices that cause less damage to the environment.  (It is a pattern I also see making jewellery, Le Ster now only use recycled gold and low impact methods of production – might not the best place to put it – would go better under the image of jewellery)

What is your favourite piece from the Le Ster Collection, Light the Grey?

Midnight Sensation, I love it. The blue of the Lapis Lazuli combined with the diamonds reminds me of Princess Diana’s engagement ring. 

I know you spend a lot of your work time speaking to people, gathering information across different cities within the UK. What is your instant pick me up, when you just don’t feel in the mood for speaking to people?

Red lipstick. I think everybody who knows me would agree with that. It always brightens me up a bit.

 

What is the piece of advice  you would give to your younger self?

 

Read. Read as much as you can, read all sorts of things. When you know the subject your want to focus on, read all around it, explore. New ideas, creative thoughts do not come from nowhere they are connected to what you already know. So expand what you know look at podcasts, blogs, books, ask questions, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason!

 

You sound like the perfect person to give a book/ podcast recommendation?

 

Think there might be a theme, “Fearne’s Happiness Project” podcast by Fearne Cotton and “Happiness by Design: A Guide to Architecture and Mental Wellbeing” by Ben Channon. I have just finished “Invisible Women” by Caroline Criado Perez, I highly recommend it but my all-time favourite book is “Rebecca” by Daphne Du Maurier.

Thank you, Clare.

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