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 Offices have been replaced with the kitchen tables – actually all forms of physical contact have been replaced by screens.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 Clare 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 Clare 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 a Director in Commercial Research at Savills I create thought-led pieces that inform people of what is going on in the office market. 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. I 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. An organisation that talks extensively on this subject is “The Loneliness Lab“.
Most important to remember is that spaces with attention to design, make you feel appreciated and it makes the work you do, feel important. Returning to the office is as much about culture, learning, and connectivity as it is about productive output.
What trends should we expect over the next year?
COVID-19 has taught us that there is freedom for us to reimagine what work looks like, and where it is located. Given how productive we have all been working from home, I think the idea of productivity being sitting at a desk in an office, five days a week for nine hours is unlikely. I suspect some degree of flexibility in the workplace will continue. For instance working from the office three days a week and two days a week from home. Although I believe the preference for interacting in person remains. However, rather than having an office which is typically focussed on desk space it will be much focused on collaboration, connectivity and culture.
Another theme which is gaining huge momentum is sustainability. People want to know where products come from and what they are made from and are gravitating towards choices that cause less damage to the environment. Ultimately,’ Green buildings’ and their impact on the environment through better design, construction, operation, maintenance and removal, while also considering the health and wellbeing of staff is key.
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.
What is your instant pick me up?
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 you 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, “Happiness” 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 books are “Rebecca” by Daphne Du Maurier and “The Great Gatsby” for all the glamour!
Thank you Clare!
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING:
“The Loneliness Lab” co-founded by Lendlease and Collectively, who share a commitment to making our cities less lonely.
Clare’s favourite piece from the “Light the Grey” Collection. Handcrafted in 18K yellow gold with Lapis Lazuli and Brilliant Cut Diamonds