understanding work

The changing nature of jobs (ILO report)

by Paul Carder on July 24, 2015

URL: http://www.ilo.org/global/research/global-reports/weso/2015-changing-nature-of-jobs/lang–en/index.htm

Thanks to our friend Wim Pullen at TU Delft for bringing this report to our attention. It is essential reading for any professional with an interest in work, employment, and how it is changing around the world.

You, like us, probably specialize in thinking about work vis-a-vis place; or workplaces, and the many combinations or work and place. But, how much do we consider the fundamental changes happening in the world of ‘work’ itself?

In the key findings, the report says “Only one quarter of workers worldwide is estimated to have a stable employment relationship, according to a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO)”. That is a shocking statistic. Some will argue, a lack of a “stable” employment relationship is better than no work at all. We are not here to argue the point. But, just to consider the small world in which we (and probably you) as “workplace strategists” actually live and work.

In context, my recent blog “It’s five o’clock somewhere” seems like a small, privileged world. As does most of the other musing around work-life balance, flexible working, and finding hours of work that “suit” people. It is worth remembering, that we are all in a fortunate minority.

Just saying…..

Take care, Paul @paulcarder


Organizational Landscaping: a search for references

by Paul Carder on December 14, 2013

I am going to try to crowd-source this one! – I need your feedback please! The term “organizational landscape”, or the term in action, “landscaping”. Have you used it? Has it been used by any group that you recall? How and why?

I do like the term “landscaping”, because it is physical (like our world of spaces, and places) and also partly because it could sit in a suite of terms prefaced by the word “Organizational”. For example, as follows:

Organizational behaviour (OB): looks at individuals, groups and structures;

Organizational development (OD): relates to OB, but is a deliberate planned intervention to improve organizational effectiveness;

Organizational model & structure: how you make sense of the form of the organization

Organizational politics: see this interesting article using the term “landscape”

Organizational vision & values: arguably the most critical success factor – where you are heading, and how to get there responsibly!

Organizational Landscaping could be a useful term to describe the design and management of the whole physical environment that an organization uses to deliver its mission, efficiently and effectively. It is both of the following:

  • a number of built environments used by people across the organization, and across all geographies; and
  • a number of information infrastructure environments (computers, mobile devices, communications technologies);

Has anyone used the term already?

Lawrence M. Miller used the term in his blog, “The Lean Culture Challenge: Can You Graduate from the 5S’s to The 7S’s that Really Matter?”

He says, in relation to the lean thinking 5S’s model, “[It] does not address the big issues that drive the culture and competitiveness of any organization.” Lawrence goes on to describe 7S’s “that are the key levers, the things that determine your culture.” He says, “These are the things that you can change and these are the things for which leaders must take responsibility.”

So, thinking myself about how the physical environment – spaces, buildings, places, service culture – must be one of these 7S’s, I was excited for a brief moment to find the first ‘S’ was in fact The Landscape! So, maybe I have found my guru! But not quite…

The Landscape: If you are developing strategy you develop that strategy to adapt to a changing environment… and it is always changing! If you are in the business of retail sales you must be adapting to the external changes in technology and social habits. Are you developing a strong web and social media presence or are you stuck in brick and mortar stores? These are obvious elements of strategy that are driven by the realities of the landscape. Economic and political changes will also affect strategy. …..And changes in the climate may have something to do with where you build that next plant and what your insurance costs may be in the future. All competitive strategy involves gathering intelligence and developing a response to the challenges of the external environment. The corporate graveyard is littered with the names of companies that failed to recognize and adapt to the changing landscape.

It is all fair enough, but it is not what I wanted to read: a management guru talking about the physical ‘landscape’ of the organization.

“Bodies in a Landscape”

Johanna Hofbauer, in a book called “Body and Organization” used the word Landscape in her chapter, “Bodies in a Landscape: On Office Design and Organization“.

I do not have access to the whole text, but it is good to see the term Landscape being used in the context in which I had imagined it – i.e., physical space and environment.


Do you know of any other precedents for the use of “Organizational Landscaping” as a term which could fit into the body of knowledge on organization and management? We need something, to capture the higher-level view. All the terms we use are far too specific and/or technical. Even corporate real estate is too focused on buildings. “Infrastructure” is a possibility, particularly with the convergence of the built asset infrastructure and the information technology infrastructure.

I like the term “Landscaping” – what do you think?

Paul (paul.carder@occupiersjournal.com) Twitter: @occupiers


When: Thursday, March 7, at Noon Pacific Standard Time

Register:  https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/476196598

Please join me and my colleague, Pi Wen Looi of Novacrea Research, for a lunch-and-learn session to learn about “Leveraging Mobile Work to Engage Your Employees.” We’ll present our 2012 Mobile Workforce Survey findings and share ideas about how you can use these insights to engage and leverage your mobile workers.

We planned to conduct this webinar well before Marissa Mayer of Yahoo! issued her now-famous edict mandating all Yahoo! staff to “cease and desist” working from home and to come to the corporate office every day. But the buzz surrounding that decision makes this webinar all that much more timely.

This session is designed for anyone who manages Gen Y workers, remote workers, IT professionals who are involved with mobile technology, and knowledge workers who work on-the-go.

Past research on the mobile workforce has focused on either the technology needs of mobile workers or the challenges of managing a virtual workforce. Our newly designed Mobile Workforce Survey is the first study that takes an integrated look at both the hardware needs of mobile workers (e.g., mobile devices) and the factors that impact their organizational engagement and personal views about mobile and remote work.

Key Takeaways

  • How and where knowledge workers are getting their work done today
  • What tools they use to be productive
  • How their mobility is affecting their work and their professional and personal relationships
  • Tips for managing and engaging remote workers


Please click on the link below to register for the free webinar, which is being hosted by People-OnTheGo, a firm focused on workforce productivity and achievement.



Date: Thursday, March 7
Time: 12:00 noon PST
Place: Online

Pi Wen and I hope to “see” you on the webinar next Thursday. Feel free to invite your colleagues; the more the merrier!


Work&Place: Our new Journal

by jimware on September 12, 2012

Work&PlaceOJL’s new journal, is now out! The first issue is available online free of charge at this link:


Paul Carder, the editor and Managing Director of Occupiers Journal, describes Work&Place this way:

“Work&Place, published quarterly by Occupiers Journal, is different. For a start it’s international. The team behind it is based on three different continents with a wider team covering two more.

“The journal is promoting a dialogue between its contributors and readers. Every article includes extensive links to further information and readers are encouraged to join a special online discussion for each issue:


“Our journal will be relevant to the creators and managers of ‘places’ (corporate real estate, construction, facilities management and workplace development).

“It will be equally relevant to managers of ‘work’ (business leaders, and functional specialists who have a key influence on corporate ‘places’ – human resources and information technology and others such as branding/marketing).”

The first issue was published in August, 2012, to rave reviews. Here’s what some important thought leaders are already saying:

Diane Coles Levine, Director of Workplace Services, SCAN Health Plan; and IFMA Foundation Trustee:

“I read Work&Place cover-to-cover on the plane ride home [from the IFMA Foundation Workplace Summit]. Wow! This is the best periodical I have read in my field! Congratulations on an outstanding job.

Every article has some information that I can directly apply to my job. This never happens when I read trade journals I can’t wait to share it with the FM team at SCAN Health Plan. I just wanted to thank you for providing us FMs with this valuable information.

It’s fantastic! It’s stimulating! it’s easy to read and jam-packed with critical information I can apply. Can’t wait for the next issue. “

Michael Schley, CEO, FM:Systems; and Chair, IFMA Foundation Knowledge Management Committee:

“I was very impressed with your inaugural journal. It is very rewarding to see a publication that is both interesting and serious. I hope that you have success with the venture. It is making an important contribution to the conversation.”

Debra Dailey, Vice President, Human Capital Solutions & Outcomes, Sodexo:

“Paul, It was wonderful seeing you [at the Workplace Strategy Summit] and seeing the output from the Journal…congrats again! It was a great idea to get it printed and distributed at the conference. On the way home I sat next to someone who was reading it, underlining comments, and excited to post feedback.”

Don’t wait any longer; read Work&Place today, and send your comments to Paul Carder. We welcome your views on any of the articles, and on what you want to see in future issues.


Our next study, through our Occupiers Journal groups of ‘end users’ around the world, will focus on this very subject. The foundations built from our “Raising The Bar” study, sponsored by the RICS, will be presented at World Workplace San Antonio on 2nd Nov 2012. We will lead on from this, to look at how, and from which disciplines, this new role of Director of Work will be created.

I wrote about this subject two years ago on my personal blog, and the idea has started to take hold across our team. We are convinced that a new role is needed, to bring together the several corporate functions that do not currently have “enterprise-wide” leadership in supporting effectiveness of work, and workplace experience.

Look at this from an employee (or ‘worker’ – could be employed by another party) perspective, in one large organisation. Let’s call him, or her, Charlie (could be male or female of course). Who advises Charlie ‘how’ to work? Not, what to do – that is usually fairly clear, and dictated by line management or some form of matrix structure. What is not always clear is when, where, and how to work? Nobody really provides much in the way of vision, or policy, to help ensure that people are adopting ‘best practice’ ways of working. Or, that they are getting a positive, healthy and productive work experience. ‘Place’ is a factor, as is designing the ‘experience of work’.

Let’s take ‘when’ to work first. Charlie probably has a contract that says working hours are 0900 to 1730 (or similar), with a half-hour unpaid lunch break. But who actually works these hours, these days? Maybe some public sector workers, and union-backed employees? But most of us never take any notice of contracted hours – we work however many hours it requires to get the work done. It is all about output, not hours worked. So the Human Resources (HR) Director sets policy on working hours, but what about work outside of these hours? HR will probably say, that is down to the employee and his/her line manager. But how many line managers know how many hours their teams are working? In today’s mobile, global, business environment, manager and employee may not see each other daily. How many line managers say “Hey, Charlie, how many hours are you working each week? Too many, I think. You should work less, it’s bad for your health and creativity…”. It’s up to us, isn’t it?

Maybe, but who protects the vulnerable? Who makes sure that people do not overwork, get stressed, or worse. Work suffers, relationships suffer, society suffers…it needs to be managed. It needs corporate policy.

How to work and where to work used to be hard-wired to each other. But this is no longer the case, at least for most office-based, or ‘knowledge’ workers. It is a case of “have gadgets, will travel”. Not all office workers need a laptop or tablet, but even desktop PCs are going ‘virtual’, so the employee can work from any desk, logging into any machine.

So let’s take ‘where to work’. Charlie may wake up in the morning, and start work straight away, thinking about the day, checking the BlackBerry, replying to messages. Stop for coffee and croissants, and have a shower. Then, maybe a phone call or two before heading off to the office, or to a meeting somewhere else, or maybe staying put to work from home for a while. Charlie’s partner probably works too, so Charlie may stop for a couple of hours at 3pm to collect children from school, or visit the gym, walk the dog, or whatever. Then, Charlie may work through until 8pm, before meeting friends. So, what is the policy here for ‘where to work’? Maybe there doesn’t need to be one?
The problem comes back though, when one combines ‘when to work’ questions with ‘where to work’, and then looks at the most vulnerable employees. If Charlie is already working too many hours, perhaps it is due to a skill shortage or lack of training. Or, maybe there are management problems with workload spreading. But if Charlie (or manager) also has it in mind that work must be done in the office, but Charlie has a 2 hours round-trip from home each day, this is simply adding to stress.

How to work is perhaps more complex again. It can be a combination of ‘when and where’, along with ‘who to work with’ at times. And at other times, ‘how to work’ can be solely the decision of the worker. Communication and visibility are often key factors. When is it necessary to have face-to-face meetings, and when can this be managed in different ways – telephone, Skype, Webex, video-conferencing, etc.

Line managers are often ill-equipped to advise staff on ‘how to work’. They know what needs to be achieved, and they may (hopefully) set clear objectives and targets. But thereafter, it is often, maybe mostly, down to the employee to get on with it. How much training do people get on the work tools around them? In my experience, it is pretty patchy to say the least. Even diary, calendar and task management – how many people know how to use all the features of MS Outlook or Lotus Notes? But today, there are so many other software and hardware tools, from simple dial-in phone numbers to full experience tele-presence.

Who brings together the ‘when, where and how’ of work, to set policy and options that can support employees?

HR has a role to play, for sure. But HR Directors do not set policy on ‘when, where and how’ to work. Line managers do that, to some extent. But, for the reasons discussed above, most line managers or Business Unit heads do not have the skills to advise on the options for ‘when, where and how’ to work. Or probably just as importantly, they often do not want to make decisions – they would rather avoid the issue of things like working from home, or stress of travel to work.

What actually happens, in many organisations, I would guess is a mixture of apathy and avoidance of responsibility (and therefore risk, in getting it ‘wrong’), with little support from the Executive Board (C-Suite). The HR department think that ‘work’ is the line managers responsibility, and the line manager is hoping that HR is dealing with any ‘human/personal’ issues that people have with their work effectiveness, stress, motivation, etc.

Enter, stage left…..the “Director of Work”

The Director of Work may sit in the line management area, under the Chief Operating Officer (COO), or under the HR area perhaps. But either way, the role would bring together the issues of ‘when, where, and how to work’, looking at the vision for how the organisation should work most effectively, reviewing options, and setting policy for when these options may be most appropriate. The Director of Work would then also set a programme of training for line managers, to make sure that they have full understanding of all the options for when, where and how to work. And, the role would manage the human and organisational risks of getting this wrong – stress, illness, inefficiency, morale, staff turnover, or just plain old boredom.

Director of Work meets Director of Workplace….

The Director of Work would be a key ally for any Director of Real Estate and Workplace Resources/Facilities Management. We all need advice on ‘ways of working’, and without it we have to create our own policy by negotiation and discussion with business units and functions. The Director of Work, with a mandate from the Executive Board (C-Suite), would be a breath of fresh air for most RE/Workplace professionals.

Or is it also a potential career move for some?

Paul  (paul.carder@occupiersjournal.com); twitter @occupiers


Paul Carder; Tuesday 20th Sept 2011; Paul was at the CoreNet Global Paris Summit. What follows below is his interpretation, so any errors are his alone.

A presentation at the 11.15 breakout session was given by Rob Wright of Johnson Controls GWS, (JCI) and Julie Boshoff, of Quest (a staffing solutions company, and JCI client, from Johannesburg).

I picked this session out for the blog, because it was excellent, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it introduced a genuinely new tool for understanding the workplace, albeit not a ‘public’ tool as it is owned and delivered by JCI GWS (actually designed by Rob Wright, who has a track record of designing useful web-based tools; he was also one of the drivers and creators behind QLW, or Quantum Leap for Work).

Secondly, it was an international application of this new tool, as it was developed by Rob, an Englishman (only just – he’s a Geordie – very close to being Scots :-), tried out in the USA (where Rob is now based), and applied for a client in Johannesburg, RSA.

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