Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

21st Century Work Life and leading remote teams

Brought to you by Virtual not Distant, the 21st Century Work Life podcast looks at leading remote teams, online collaboration and working in distributed organisations.

Join Pilar Orti, guests & co-hosts as they shine the spotlight on the most relevant themes and news relevant to the modern knowledge worker.

For more on our services, check out

Jun 8, 2017

Welcome to a special episode of the 21st Century Work Life podcast, where I share with you my main reflections after attending the Work 2.0 conference last May 2017, in London and where I bring in the thoughts and opinions of other attendees. Don't forget to visit


Thank you too to everyone who very kindly agreed to taking part in this episode, it means that listeners get a much more varied view of the world of work, and it’s always great to hear different voices.


Work 2.0 consisted of the Future of Work conference and the Wellbeing conference. I attended mainly sessions on the Future of Work track – but I also managed to pop into a couple of sessions of the wellbeing track. I won’t go into the content of everything I heard, but I just wanted to give you an idea of what the main themes were.

The first thing that I noticed when looking through the programme was the focus on Activity Based Working. Now, I hadn’t really heard of this in the context of organisations, but it’s basically about designing the office so that people can choose where they work from depending on what they’re doing – the activity they’re doing.

I really enjoyed the presentation by Dr Nicola Millard from BT who talked about people needing to do four types of activities. Those involving Collaboration, Communication, Concentration and Contemplation. I love this last one, it really acknowledges that part of our work is to think.


Dr Millard presented a few numbers, including the percentage of people at companies who work from the office. Some interesting differences and I’m very biased in the numbers I took down: UK, 48%; Spain 53% and Germany 61%. This is a similar distribution to the recent Eurofund study on working from anywhere.

Another interesting number: 82% of high performance companies provide anytime/anywhere collaboration tools, which also raises the question, probably for the less high performing companies, do we know what the tools are for?

And talking of tools, while I was wondering around the exhibition floor, I came across the team from Sapenta, an ‘All-in-one’ software for getting work done.” , where they are paying attention to Contextual Communication.

Guest segment: Colm Digby from Sapenta


Other stuff I jotted down in my notebook (thank you Podcast Website for the freebie last year at New Media Europe, by the way) :

Shoulder bag workers


Isolationists in a company,


Echo chambers forming around teams where there is no cognitive diversity.


Getting the balance right of We/Me; yes, we need people who are different, but there also needs to be some commonality, as we tend to gravitate those we can identify with.

The first panel session was around How workplace design can meet the needs of tomorrow, and because it was in the main hall, it was difficult to take questions from the audience, the whole audience was there, so the organisers used Slido, an app where people can post their questions and they are then shared on the screen, and other people can vote on the question too. I’ll share some of these questions with you in a second, but what I found most fun is that it can quickly become the way in which audience interacts with organisers or presenters, so at one point someone posted, Hey, we can’t hear at the back. It was really quick adoption of tech to suit the user, don’t you think?

Guest Segment: Paula and Eduardo from Schneider Electric

David Fano from really highlighted how we’re moving away from the workplace as somewhere where we go to work and start to focus on the place where we create relationships – this comes very much from the coworking space point of view, where you go to be with other people out of choice.


Technology has given us this choice and I’ll bang on another drum to say that Flexible working is not working from home – a lot of the time it is, because some people like that, but sometimes it’s about not working in close proximity with your team, but you might well be with other people. Or you might even be with other people inside your organisation, or with clients, but there is an element of choice in how or where you do that from.


It’s time to share a story with you – I was just going to share it with you myself, but I thought I might as well bring the person who told it into the episode.


Guest segment: Katharine Metters from Posturite

I have to say, that’s the most extreme story I’ve heard about not supporting your employees when you need to work from home. I would have loved to know more about why on Earth somebody needed a photocopy in their home to do their job in this day and age, or why such person was being forced to work from home… Anyway, I hope you chuckled, or cried…

Ok, let me share now a more thoughtful approach to designing how people work, and a wonderful example of how tech can be used to fuel that intrinsic motivation that lurks inside all of us.


Case Study from Heathrow’s Innovation Department on their Enterprise Mobility Programme.


Neil Usher, who was Workplace Director at Sky.
I really enjoyed hearing about taking into consideration the diversity of the workforce, depending on the type of work they need to do and how they go about doing it.

There was also a separation between different types of workspaces that people might need access to: primary workpoints, like desk or a teamtable; alternative workspaces, I imagine, like a café or a quiet office from which to make a call; and ancillary spaces, like amenities, place to eat.

Long are the days when everyone just has a desk at the office. In Sky, there are 3,600 people but only 2,500 desks.


Guest Segment: Andrew Spence @AndySpence on Twitter

The company we were talking about that does sound insulation and other stuff is Echophon Saint Gaubin.