WE Brief


WE:Brief is a member exclusive correspondence with the latest information for Workplace Evolutionaries. For access to previous WE:Briefs, click here to visit the WE Community Engage group. Instructions for registering and navigating the Engage community, please click here.

To celebrate the holidays here in the US, WE wanted to share Novembers’ WE:Brief so everyone can get another taste of the curated content and exclusive insight and commentary WE provide to our members.  Have a look, feel free to share; provide feedback and comment.

If you would like this each month then please join WE as one of your communities.

Here is a link to the full PDF for you to download 

Another WE Brief Example so you can see what to expect:

Inside the historic old Bell Labs building in Holmdel, New Jersey, a developer is creating a “metroburb”–a self-contained, indoor Main Street that will house stores, a food hall, and tech company offices. The question is: What’s a downtown without a city?

The 2 million s.f. that was once home to over 5,000 Bell Labs employees in Holmdel NJ, fell on hard times when AT&T’s successor shuttered it in  2007. Finding a tenent for a place the size of the Empire State Building laid on its side proved fruitless. But one developer saw it’s potential as a mini-city and it’s once again open for business under the name Bell Works.

Now 70% occupied, the intent is to capture the reverse migration crowd who like the buzz of the city, but want to raise their kids in the burbs. The building offers office space (prefab, custom, or co-working, stores, a food hall, library, daycare and fitness facility, public space, and perhaps soon, a hotel, conference center, and ballroom.

The article cites a study that estimates 7.5% of the nation’s office inventory is obsolete or unnecessary for the modern company. Is this the future of abandoned office parks and shopping malls?


Professionals spend an average of 90,000 hours working over the course of a lifetime. That’s half of the waking hours in your working adult life. So with over half a billion professionals on LinkedIn, we have taken a closer look at what success means to you. What are you in it for? Why do you get up and go to work every day?

In rather a hodge-podge of survey questions, this Linked-In poll shows:

  • 96% don’t care about a corner office
  • 89% say skills are more important than titles
  • 86% don’t care about having an admirable job
  • 69% work primarliy to pay the bills
  • 39% feel successful when teaching others
  • 36% get their satisfaction from moonlighting
  • 34% would take a paycut in exchange for a flexible schedule


“Describes tools and frameworks that leaders inside and outside the HR profession can use to transform the HR profession and their organizational success.”

The book offers a collection of forward-looking advice from over 70 exemplary chief HR officers and other leaders whose mission is to “disruptively accelerate the progress of the HR profession to meet the unprecedented challenges and opportunities of the new world of work.”

Chris Hood (one of the Founders of WE) contributed to a chapter entitled A Vision of the Workplace in 2025: Doom or Boom?. In it he describes how head-count planning and workforce cost-cutting will be replaced by an adaptive-value model where employees own their own reality and managers make decisions based on work required, rather than head count.

WE all know FM/CRE needs to be talking to HR, right? Here’s an easy way to learn about what makes them tick and why that alliance is so critical to workplace success.


“Over the past two decades, the U.S. labor market has undergone a quiet transformation, as companies increasingly forgo full-time employees and fill positions with independent contractors, on-call workers or temps—what economists have called “alternative work arrangements” or the “contingent workforce.”

While this article focuses on lawmaker concerns about the absense of rights and protections for contingent workers (a worthy topic on its own), what I found even more interesting was the data.

A scan of business headlines would lead most to believe the “gig economy” was transforming the world of work. In fact, it isn’t. The Uber’s, TaskRabbit’s, and Upwork’s of the world actually account for less than 1% of the contingent workforce (which includes temps, on-call workers, contract workers, independent contractors, and freelancers).*

Accurate data on the number of Americans employed under alternative work arrangements is sorely lacking, but the most rigorous estimate puts it at about 16% of the labor force. That number has increased by about 50% in the past decade with independent contractors accounting for most of that growth. During the same period, the number of traditional workers actually declined.

The problem in all this is that contingent workers have none of the protections and benefits that employees enjoy. Federal and State regulators are way behind the curve in this important shift.

You can view the full report on which this article is based here.

* Some estimates of the contingent labor force include also include part-time employees.


“On a given day, only 10 percent of people say “thank you” to colleagues—and 60 percent of people report that they never or very rarely express gratitude at work. So OpenIDEO posed a challenge for the best ideas on how  express gratitude in the workplace. Over 300 contributions later they announced the winners.

You can have a look at the winning ideas here, but the real winners are the employers that are doing something about the sad state of gratitude. In addition to lower turnover, research by Harvard and Wharton shows a simple ‘thank you’ can boost productivity by over 50%.

The article points to a number of great research papers and articles about gratitude. Here are a few quick tips for getting started:

  • Start at the top; people want to hear it from the boss
  • Thank the people who do thankless work
  • Quality and authenticity trump quantity
  • Gratitude isn’t one-size-fits-all
  • Make it personal

And there’s a bonus in expressing gratitude. It feels good.

Thank you for reading this post!


Maybe many of the assumptions we make about Gen Y aren’t unique to this generation. Maybe they’re specific to young people in general, writes Amanda Ruggeri

Garbage in, garbage out as they say, and in terms of designing for millennials, your workplace may be the garbage. That Gen Y is so different really is fake news. Remember beanbag chairs, lava lamps, and nahru jackets? What if workplaces had been completely redesigned to fit young boomers?

This article debunks nearly all we think we know about Millennials. Compared to other generations:

  • They work harder
  • They are more respectful of authority
  • They stay on the job longer

Though not covered in this article, other research shows they are not more collaborative, tech savvy, or social.

Critically, in terms of workplace design, like every generation in the past, they will change throughout their lives. Already, the trends are showing the eldest among them are buying cars, having kids, and moving to the suburbs to raise them.

The bottom line is, it’s time to stop making assumptions about how people are , get out there and talk to them about what they want and need, and design with the knowledge that they will change over time.


“In the face of rapid technological change and global competition for talent, capital, and customers, we’re focused on the wrong thing, or at least too narrowly, if the intense investment in employee engagement has not produced employees willing and able to take on challenging issues and pursue new opportunities.”

The piece suggests these three attributes are present in passionate people. They:

  • Seek out difficult challenges
  • Connect with others to find solutions
  • Really want to make an impact

People with these attributes are willing to risk being wrong and able to think flexibly, learn quickly, and create new knowledge.

Unfortunately, most organizations do not offer an environment that inspires passion. Risk-aversion, defensiveness, command-and-control attitudes, short-term performance measures, and silos are the bane of passion.

Interestingly, high engagement does not seem to move the needle as much as you might think it would on passion. What does seem to correlate closely is:

  • Autonomy
  • Being measured by outcomes
  • Opportunities and encouragement for cross-functional teaming
  • Recognition for ”thinking outside the box”
  • A positive attitude toward failure

Their quick-start guide includes tips such as: ditching rigid processes, passion-sucking reporting requirements, and soul-crushing micromanagement.


Millennially Minded: What the younger generation thinks about working life in the future

Raconteur’s data roundup on Millennials shows them to be bullish on how automation will impact productivity, economic growth, leisure time, and flexibility. They’re bearish on how it will influence human interaction, the need for retraining, and job opportunities.


Filter bubbles are a problem for democracy. We believe they’re a problem for creativity, too.

From IDEO: Escape Your Filter Bubble and Enhance Your Creativity

  • Talk to strangers – Bill Murray’s recommends conversations with cab drivers
  • Unfollow people like you – it will open your eyes to other perspectives
  • Join a different demographic – Bingo anyone?
  • Volunteer – It brings you eye to eye with people you don’t usually hang with (and it will make you feel good)

From Fast Company: Expunge these three phrases from the conversation:

  • Best Practices – By the time they’re ‘best’ they’re stale
  • Return on Investment – Yahoo turned down an offer to buy Google for $1M because it didn’t pencil out
  • “When I worked for …” – It’s so yesterday


The walls have come down, literally and figuratively. In this space where people come together remarkable things happen. From fledgling concept to fully formed and flourishing; an exploration of the (future) workplace in Australia and New Zealand.

In this 35 page report, workplace legends Chris Cane and Chris Alcock share 11 case studies from AU and NZ where two-thirds of the workforce expect to be activity-based working (ABW) by 2020. Half of financial institution employees already do.

Each study includes quantified benefits such as:

  • An increase in net promoter scores, engagement, sustainability scores, speed to decision making, and talent attraction
  • A reduction in real estate costs, churn, and waste

While the banking industry has led the charge, the study indicates that all of the major insurance companies, professional consulting organizations, real estate and property sector, and technology companies have made a move toward ABW.

The authors credit the speed at which ABW has advanced in AU/NZ, at least in part, to the pioneering nature of their population. They are eager to try new and better ways of doing things and not afraid of challenging convention.


The time has come to re-examine how we think about the nature of work, the concept of employment and what it takes to build a thriving workforce.


The lineup for this ground-breaking event is astouding:

Sunday 2/11:

  • Interactive 3D workshop using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methods
  • The Workplace Experience led by a dozen WE members
  • Capturing Your Best Workplace Experience
  • What WE/You Know for Sure
  • Balancing Technology and Human Ingenuity
  • And More

Monday 2/12 learn and chat about:

  • Learning Agility
  • The Future of HR
  • Intrapreneurship
  • The Employee Experience
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • The Gig Economy
  • Strategic HR
  • Invisible Talent
  • People Analytics
  • And more

Tuesday 2/13 learn and chat about:

  • The Digital Workforce
  • Workplace Conduct
  • The Empathetic Workplace
  • AI and Cognitive Bias
  • Workplace Culture
  • Making Meetings Matter
  • Flexible and Remote Work
  • And More

All that and you’ll be home in time to give your Valentine a big squeeze and some Ghirardelli chocolates!

Use code: Sign up here. Use code WEHUBVIP for 50% off.


Our global thought leaders promise to open your minds to the latest thinking on how sustainability will be the next competitive advantage.

This full-day event is for everyone involved in the built environment that hears this call and wants to engage in a meaningful discussion and play a role in leading this important initiative.

Hear from Sustainability Leaders:

  • The Edge (Deloitte, Amsterdam)
  • Method Soap (Chicago IL)
  • Cook County (Chicago IL)

Plus sessions on the role of technology, people and performance implications, best practices, and more.

To end the day, we will guide you through a powerful exercise designed to help you create your own, “unique action plans.”

Check it the full schedule here.


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