Meet our speakers: Andy Swann, author of The Human Workplace
Summer Forum 201819.06.18
Just a couple of weeks now until the Benefex Summer Forum – Human Resourceful.
As you know, one of the key themes of the day is building human workplaces; keeping the workplace human in this saturated world of tech.
So, who better to have join us on the day than the author of The Human Workplace, Andy Swann!
Andy works around the world on unique, innovative and impactful projects for some of the planet’s largest organisations and biggest brands. Known as an expert on the relationship between people and work, Andy’s book has been described as essential reading for all leaders. Its core message of people-first organisational success has gained attention across the media.
Fresh from his triumphant turn at ExChange, Andy will be giving his advice on creating platforms for people to thrive.
Andy, without giving too much away, can you let us know what you’re going to be talking about at the Summer Forum?
I’m sometimes told that I have an alternative perspective on the relationship between people, organisations and work, but I see it as common sense. I come at the subject from a worker, as well as an organisational angle, so I see the connections rather than processes and structures. The mantra I work on is that when people thrive, organisations thrive too, which means that to succeed, every organisation should be focused on nothing more than creating a platform for people. It’s simple!
In your experience, what would you say is one of the biggest barriers to letting employees thrive in the workplace?
Almost every organisation is guilty of blocking itself. In pursuit of goals, the tendency is to layer on process and complexity, to ensure certain things are done in a certain way at a certain time, even when that isn’t actually the best way to get things done. I spend time helping huge corporations remove process to allow themselves to be more flexible, agile and innovate for the future, while at the same time supporting startups and smaller organizations to leverage their simplicity for success. It’s very easy to smother a fire, but it you ignite it, give it fuel and then stand back, it will burn brightly. The best way to remove barriers is by not putting them up in the first place!
What do you think the workplace will look like in 10 years’ time? Will there even be a ‘workplace’?
We’re already seeing the transition of physical workplaces from ‘places people are made to attend’ to becoming ‘clubhouses’ – places people choose to go to for the biggest connection to their organisation, community and collective purpose. This trend will continue, as part of the wider shift of organisations away from being draconian institutions of control, to communities of shared interest and mission. Of course, there are some workplaces that require people to physically be there to do the actual work (construction sites, factories, hospitals), but even these will see huge changes as technology and AI continues to impact the way we work.
And finally, what would you say is your proudest achievement to date?
I’m a big believer in pride coming before a fall – the moment you believe your own hype is the moment you get left behind. I have four amazing kids, an amazing girlfriend, do amazing work in amazing places, with amazing people. Things they do make me proud, I just love every minute of it!