We are joined by Ronda Mohr, an architect turned worldbuilder. She explains how our experiences can be designed around us to influence behavior. Think Disney World. Her human centric approach to designing the workplace fosters creativity, collaboration and effectiveness.
Release date: Mar 9, 2022
[00:00:00] Ad Voice: Warning, this podcast is about the realities of working in people operations. This is not a stuck-up PC compliance-based or employment law podcast about stuffy, outdated HR practices. Shit will get real here and we assume no responsibility.
[00:00:16] Alexa Baggio: Just another day in the office.
[00:00:18] Speaker: There's nothing better than a bunch of good work HR getting around the table and sharing these stories. We have this out-of-body experience in HR where you're like, "How did I get here?"
[00:00:27] Alexa: It's not that bad.
[00:00:27] Tyson Mackenzie: It's not that bad, it's not.
[00:00:29] Alexa: Come hang out with Tyson and I on this podcast, we'll make you laugh.
[00:00:31] Speaker: This is The People Problems Podcast with Alexa Baggio and Tyson Mackenzie.
[00:00:39] Alexa: Tyson, I feel like when your hair is very straight, I have to take you more seriously or something.
[00:00:44] Tyson: Really? [laughs]
[00:00:45] Alexa: Are you dressed up for something? Is everything okay?
[00:00:47] Tyson: The Revlon brush out. No, honestly. No, just something to do.
[00:00:53] Alexa: Just scrubbing the mad week cream? There you go.
[00:00:55] Tyson: Yes, exactly, but okay, I got a new face over the weekend.
[00:01:01] Alexa: Wait, what?
[00:01:01] Tyson: I don't know if you can tell that I have a brand new face.
[00:01:02] Alexa: No. What does that mean?
[00:01:05] Tyson: I went to this woman. It's super underground. She barely has a website.
[00:01:11] Alexa: Oh, boy.
[00:01:11] Tyson: She does these crazy massage cupping, all these pressure points and it's just this insane facial massage-
[00:01:21] Alexa: Facial.
[00:01:22] Tyson: - and a facial. Literally, you leave and it's called, what does she call herself? Facelifting something. Anyways, I don't even want to say it because I don't want other people to find her. It's one of those kinds of things.
[00:01:32] Alexa: [laughs] It's so cruel.
[00:01:32] Tyson: Anyways, and I literally left and my face was pulled back so much.
[00:01:37] Alexa: You definitely look fresh.
[00:01:38] Tyson: I feel good about my new face. It was an amazing experience, though. [laughs]
[00:01:42] Alexa: It looks as beautiful as the last face, but you look rejuvenated.
[00:01:46] Tyson: I appreciate that.
[00:01:46] Alexa: I am coming into this with wet hair and no makeup as usual. I'm feeling extra glowing over here. Sweet. All right, anything else new? No, nothing to report?
[00:01:54] Tyson: No.
[00:01:55] Alexa: All right, well, the world is up in arms about Ukraine and we're still here talking about HR. That's the hand we were dealt. All right, well, let's go on to pops in the news.
Sometimes here on People Problems, we have really timely, really thoughtful articles about things that are trendy in the world of HR and people ops, and sometimes we just have shitty articles that come out that are about our industry. Today I think we have the latter, which is an article in Forbes called Reimagining a Changing Workplace: 10 HR Leaders Offer Best Practices. I won't say that any of these are ostensibly bad, but there are some in here that you're like, "Okay, this is not super helpful." Maybe we should just-
[00:02:43] Tyson: Next time we do a buzzwords episode, we can pull this article up.
[00:02:46] Alexa: - come back to this one. Yes, exactly. There's a lot of cringy pandering and infantilizing in this one, but you know what? It's fun nonetheless to go through these 10. Number one, reboot work models. "HR leaders should architect a new future of HR in 2022. They'll be required to refresh talent practices to maximize the potential of Agile and hybrid workforces, create personalized experiences, ensure continuous skill development. HR leadership should be a key priority." That is Manish Misra from the Emirates National Oil Company, that's their quote. Cool, yes, great. Didn't tell me much.
Number two, I won't read them all because it will be far too long. Our guest is too excited for that, but number two, think creatively. [laughs] Just in case that was not obvious enough, you should think creatively.
[00:03:34] Tyson: I'm just going to point out a problem with this article. Think creatively. Okay, cool, I'm all for experimentation, new ideas, whatever. The challenge is in this article, it says, so get creative and don't be afraid to try new approaches, to hire developer data. What? Why?
[00:03:49] Alexa: What the fuck do you think the world is doing right? [laughs]
[00:03:53] Tyson: No, but give me some real side.
[00:03:56] Alexa: This is my problem with everyone who talks about this industry, is everyone talks at the industry and everyone says shit like this and none of it is specific or helpful. It's like, "Oh, think creatively. Be empathetic." Fuck you, what does that mean? Literally, what does that mean?
[00:04:11] Tyson: The one before, this is even worse, for under reboot work models, it says, "New HR leaders will be required to "refresh" talent practices to maximize the potential of an Agile and hybrid workforce."
[00:04:24] Alexa: Just a lot of words. Words, words, words, and words, words. Okay, we're not even at number three yet. Ready? Foster a psychologically safe work environment. This one basically says HR leaders in 2022 should embrace psychological safety to its fullest. Yes, there's nothing crazy about that.
[00:04:41] Tyson: Go back and watch our episode on counsel culture.
[00:04:45] Alexa: Yes, exactly. I think this is a lot of people saying really obvious things. Number four, demonstrate versatile leadership. For the first time in forever, we have five different generations in the workforce. It keeps expanding. It was four and now apparently, it's five. As an HR manager, you will need to [crosstalk].
[00:04:59] Tyson: Does anybody retire anymore? I guess not.
[00:05:05] Alexa: You'll need to creatively and strategically utilize various leadership styles to ensure you reach every team member in the most effective and impactful way. Your greatest strategy is going to be observation and insight. Remember that leading leaders listen. Number five, lead with empathy. I knew it was in here somewhere.
[00:05:25] Tyson: Listen, I can't.
[00:05:26] Alexa: Leaders listen and lead with empathy.
[00:05:27] Tyson: Okay, sorry.
[00:05:30] Alexa: I'm not touching the upper three ones. Everyone knows how I feel about that. Number six, level up on humility and authenticity, prioritize self-care because without self-care, you cannot be your best self or lead others to be their best selves. Can anyone say anything original in this space? It is fucking baffling to me. Okay, number seven.
[00:05:49] Alexa: Just quickly, I hate authentic because I think the people versus management and leadership and the powers of V have a very different perception of what the word authentic means. What the people want is all the information and all the realness-
[00:06:04] Alexa: All the time.
[00:06:04] Tyson: - but when leaders are authentic, it's such a pretend. It's like playing dress-up. They make some powerful authentic statement and it's such pretense, so I'm like, "Let's not strive for authenticity anymore. It's not working."
[00:06:21] Alexa: The takeaway from this article is don't strive for authenticity. Oh, I love it. We are such a bunch of fucking mean girls. Okay, moving on, we're going to get there I promise. I am excited for our guest. Number seven, remember where it all started. Remember your origins and be humble, curious, and honest in all your dealings. These are free fucking fortune cookies. This is so silly.
[00:06:41] Tyson: Who's remembering where it all started.
[00:06:44] Alexa: I don't know. I need to [crosstalk] these fucking quotes.
[00:06:45] Tyson: I didn't start this fucking company, I just work here.
[00:06:47] Alexa: I don't know, this is what happens when you have to push out a lot of content. Number eight, follow your own advice.
[00:06:52] Tyson: This is Forbes, right?
[00:06:54] Alexa: This is Forbes actually put out by the Forbes Human Resource Council, which is why it drives me fucking crazy because I just don't know who's reading this article going like, "Oh my God, I never thought of that. This is such great advice."
[00:07:08] Tyson: People might, and then they should just turn on our podcast instead.
[00:07:10] Alexa: Yes, let's just say, there are those people who probably aren't listening to people like us.
[00:07:14] Tyson: Like this one, I like number eight, follow your own advice.
[00:07:17] Alexa: HR leaders should follow the same advice they offer to their populations. Focus on your emotional, physical, and financial well-being, find time for rest, rejuvenation, and joy, set boundaries to prevent 24/7 access. The HR function is painfully overworked and burned out," amen to that, "So let's protect this incredibly important team." That is Mark Stelzner from IA. I don't know what that is, but it's probably short for something. No, just IA who is also some form of HR strategy firm.
[00:07:45] Tyson: Oh, yes, it's all consultants that wrote this. [laughs]
[00:07:47] Alexa: It's literally all consultants. Maybe that's why this sucks. Number nine, bond with your CEO.
[00:07:53] Tyson: That's always good, though.
[00:07:54] Alexa: It's always good.
[00:07:55] Tyson: The HR needs to be in with the CEO. If you're not already doing that, which you should have been, this is not a 2022 thing.
[00:08:00] Alexa: Needs to be in, but as we talked about last week, you're not there to do their fucking dirty work. You are not there like a henchman.
[00:08:07] Tyson: You should have a good rapport with the CEO. That's a good one.
[00:08:10] Alexa: Yes, and my last but favorite one is embrace the remote workplace because that's also a novel concept two years into a pandemic. It's basically just saying remote's not going away and I'm not talking about that anymore, because I'm exhausted. This article exhausts me, but that's it. Forbes HR Leadership Council's 10 HR Leaders Offer Best Practices. Those are your 10 best practices for 2022 to maintain the workplace.
[00:08:38] Tyson: I feel like we should do a responses article and do our 10 best practices that aren't fluffy. I feel like now that people listening are thinking like,-
[00:08:45] Alexa: Can I curse at all of them?
[00:08:45] Tyson: - "Tyson and Alexa, you think you're so smart, what are the 10 best practices?" and I'm feeling like a challenge coming up.
[00:08:53] Alexa: This is the trouble with recording is you just threw down the gauntlet and I guess I have to say, "Yes, Tyson, we'll totally do that episode. No pressure." Yes, we should do that, that would be fun.
[00:09:03] Tyson: We'll be accountable for that one.
[00:09:03] Alexa: Maybe they'll publish it in Forbes if we write back. All right, cool. I just want this article to be over because I am very excited about our guest.
[00:09:11] Tyson: Move on.
[00:09:12] Alexa: Truly I'm truly very excited to introduce our guest today, Rhonda Moore. Rhonda is the co-founder and chief design officer at Biotech Labs. She is a world builder maverick and self-proclaimed chicken ninja. She's driven by learning, solving, creating novel human experiences that incite meaningful change. She believes the best idea is win, experimentation fuels excellence, and transcendent work is expected. Her expertise is in world-building and human-centered design. Welcome, Rhonda.
[00:09:37] Rhonda Moore: Thank you.
[00:09:38] Alexa: I'm so excited.
[00:09:38] Rhonda: I'm happy to be here.
[00:09:40] Alexa: Me too.
[00:09:40] Tyson: That article was cringe-worthy, guys.
[00:09:42] Tyson: Totally.
[00:09:42] Alexa: Yes, fucking brutal. There's a lot of that. There's a lot of cringe-worthy content in HR.
[00:09:47] Rhonda: It's Forbes. I canceled Forbes. [laughs]
[00:09:52] Alexa: The problem with Forbes, they don't have any different model than anybody else, so it's lowest common denominator on content creation.
[00:10:00] Rhonda: It's a lot of academic. There's always a huge disconnect, it feels to me, between what they're writing about and what's actually happening in real life. It's massive.
[00:10:12] Alexa: Case and point is this fucking article?
[00:10:14] Rhonda: Yes, how many more buzzwords from 1996 can we use in one sentence?
[00:10:19] Alexa: Right, that's exactly, it's click-baiting.
[00:10:22] Tyson: Okay, hold on.
[00:10:22] Alexa: If this was a drinking game, we'd be hammered by number 10.
[00:10:26] Tyson: That would be another good episode. [laughs]
[00:10:27] Alexa: Buzzword drinking games?
[00:10:29] Tyson: Buzzwords drinking games, that's amazing.
[00:10:31] Alexa: Yes, drunk HR? That'll be our next podcast.
[00:10:34] Tyson: Drunk HR. [laughs]
[00:10:35] Alexa: That's amazing. Drunk HR advice.
[00:10:37] Tyson: What the hell is a chicken ninja? I feel like I missed like that-
[00:10:40] Alexa: Yes, what the fuck is a chicken ninja?
[00:10:41] Tyson: - the first time I read through your bio.
[00:10:44] Rhonda: You guys, I'm so obsessed with chickens. I think this is season three of testing, it's basically a food science and human nutrition project that we're running through pilot and prototyping and it involves chickens, [laughs] so I'm like, "All right, I'll try chickens." A couple of years ago, "Oh my God, they're so fun." I am absolutely obsessed with chickens. I cannot have them. They're amazing, so I spend a lot of time with chickens.
[00:11:11] Tyson: Like as a patch?
[00:11:12] Alexa: You own chickens.
[00:11:13] Rhonda: I have 24 right now. [laughs]
[00:11:15] Alexa: I do hear they multiply. I have heard that.
[00:11:18] Rhonda: Mostly because you get obsessed and you buy more and I've never actually hatched a bird, I don't have any roosters, but chickens are fantastic.
[00:11:27] Alexa: So you need a lot of eggs.
[00:11:27] Rhonda: It's surprising you eat chicken. Yes, they do. That's how I buy off my neighbors for all the experiments-
[00:11:33] Alexa: Free eggs.
[00:11:33] Rhonda: - [laughs] that we do on these properties. It's like, "I promise this mess is temporary, here's some eggs. Love me."
[00:11:41] Tyson: Can you eat the chicken or you love the chicken so much that you can't eat it.
[00:11:45] Rhonda: I don't. There's a difference between layers and the meat chickens, and I don't have meat chicken, so I only have the layers.
[00:11:53] Tyson: Oh, okay, so you don't have to have that.
[00:11:55] Rhonda: No, you don't and it does [crosstalk]
[00:11:57] Alexa: Oral conundrum?
[00:11:59] Tyson: I can't.
[00:11:59] Rhonda: I know, it's a little hard because you raise them like dogs. They have personalities and they recognize you.
[00:12:03] Alexa: I've heard they're quite cool.
[00:12:05] Rhonda: Yes, they're super cool. I would have a hard time
eating the layers, but I really don't have a hard time eating chicken, I would be fine. If I had meat chickens and grew those, I would be fine. I'm not that obsessed.
[00:12:16] Alexa: Yes, that's incredible.
[00:12:18] Tyson: I want to get a chicken now.
[00:12:19] Alexa: It always reminds me of that Aerosmith song, if chicken ninja tells me that the sky is falling. What is that song? It's going to be stuck in my head for eternity now, but amazing. The way back button when Aerosmith was still making albums. I'm not that old, but I'm kind of old. There's some weird references in my childhood that are overlapping decades. All right, moving on. Let's talk about, Rhonda, you're a world builder, what the fuck does that mean?
[00:12:44] Rhonda: Worldbuilding is really a process. It's the process of creating imaginary worlds and we're most familiar with it usually in fiction, so either in narrative, in storytelling like--
[00:12:56] Alexa: Harry Potter.
[00:12:57] Rhonda: Yes, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings are really classic examples, but it can also be used. It's the same skillset and the same process to build, innovate new real life projects. If you imagine you're just figuring out through research and design process how to create something that doesn't already exist. What we do is take what is usually done in theme park and entertainment and we apply it to creating a new way to work and live and solve some pretty gnarly problems. It's a pretty cool field because any discipline you can imagine is involved in world-building. It's really vast and you get to work with lot of different people.
Sometimes you need a chemist and sometimes you need an architect. The teams move around a lot, they're really big complex projects, then you usually get cool innovation out of them.
[00:13:50] Alexa: My head immediately goes to Disney world because Disney is like the pinnacle of world-building. Like you walk into a theme park, and they've literally got this sent you smell when you walk in engineered for the experience they're trying to create. They are known for every touchpoint is basically designed. For those of us who don't world-build, how do you break down the process? There's got to be a bit of a like, you don't just start making sense, and then start making clothes. There's got to be a bit of a process to this that is not just theme parks, right?
[00:14:28] Rhonda: Yes. Really, it's rooted in human-centered design, and so you start with a goal.
[00:14:33] Alexa: Do you want to tell people a little bit what human-centered design is?
[00:14:36] Rhonda: Yes, well, it's interesting. You can do a design that is focused on form or aesthetics or making money or you can start with what the user wants and needs. Human-centered design is really about studying human behavior and what they're looking for in order to impact whatever your goal is. When you're doing something like a theme park design, usually you have IP. You have a story that you're starting from, and the game is really to use your design process to immerse people into that place. Actually, it's not at Disneyland, it's at Universal Studios and they're doing such a good job, but they did Harry Potter.
[00:15:20] Alexa: Yes, Harry Potter World.
[00:15:21] Rhonda: I forget. Harry Potter World. I'm probably getting Wonderful World of Harry Potter or something like that. They did a really, really good job. What they did was take the IP that already existed in the books and movies and theater by this point, and then you have to do the research of what would that look like, how do you build it, and then how do you specifically arrange things so that you can enhance experience. Usually, in a theme park, you're trying to get people excited, you're trying to get them to buy stuff, have good memories, and so you're looking at smells, what plants are in the area. You do all sorts of cool tricks like force perspectives in buildings.
You might tilt buildings in. Like if you're trying to get people down a hallway, you might play with form and architecture so a building looks taller than it is by just messing with how things are built and angles. Really, you're trying to figure out what's going to motivate people through story in those scenarios, and then you create the entire world just like you would in a book. It's an iterative design process that would be the same as doing any other product design.
[00:16:28] Alexa: What are all the layers? You say like, "Oh, and then you just build the world." You mentioned smell, you mentioned plants, you mentioned buildings.
[00:16:35] Rhonda: It's crazy the amount of people that are involved, the amount of different disciplines and designers that are involved in doing a project like that because there are literally people that specialize in scent and how we react to it so you can change. That's always a good one because you can make somebody have a really bad time if you give them the wrong scent and conversely do the other and make something really memorable either way.
You have art directors and you have people that are good at messaging and traditional art direction that we might see in advertising, but also art directors are environmental graphic designers that can specialize in what would the right font be if you were in Hogwarts? It's like somebody has to do the research and think about what that font would be and probably design it. It's just like these massive groups of designers that get together. It's cool because you get together, you figure out what the goal is, then you disperse and do your job, and then come back together, so it's really iterative. It's almost like building cities, they're really, really big projects.
The goals are all the same. You start with a brief, you do the research, you figure out who your customer is, who comes to see Harry Potter or Disneyland or whatever, and then you design toward what you know about their human behavior. Then if you're really good, and the big companies like Disney and Universal, they test the crap out of it, so they mock things up, they try it, they pilot things, they bring in test audiences to see how their reaction is, and then whatever the cost, they tear it down if it's wrong and fix it. It's really basic design process.
[00:18:19] Alexa: Yes, it's so easy, it's so basic.
[00:18:22] Tyson: I'm wondering, my HR brain is thinking now, because we've talked about designing for a customer, have you ever designed for an employee, for example? We're talking about what is the desired behavior, so it could be working and executing work tasks, and how do we motivate that through the world, the environment around them? Have you ever done it in a workplace or an office environment where we create this?
[00:18:50] Rhonda: A lot actually. Early in my career, I was doing more experience marketing and luxury retail which is all about brand experience. Then that, at some point, I don't know when it happened, morphed into doing exactly what you're talking about, like how do we take our work environments and get people to, usually it'd be more productive, be happier, reduce sick days?
[00:19:15] Tyson: Be more engaged.
[00:19:16] Rhonda: Yes, be more engaged. I have a lot of time doing that. That's what I do now. That's what I mean when you take things out of this entertainment and marketing industry into how do we actually make a place and systems within that place to be happier and more productive and create good things. I have a lot of experience there. It's really rewarding work. It's very, very difficult because you get a lot of pushback. It's hard on the employees, it's hard on the management pack.
[00:19:48] Tyson: Talk about pushback.
[00:19:50] Rhonda: You're talking about pretty massive change, so usually, I went through those design sets and early on, you have to look at what's your goal, what are you trying to do in the, say, like Acme Company, and then you have to figure out who your employees are. It's interesting that last article mentioned creativity because there is a correlation between the more creative a business is, the easier the changes. The more analytical a business is, those employees and managers have a harder time because it's just change is really hard.
If you're in a really analytical business, what I have observed over and over is without really strong creative networks, people just get really scared, so they can't see where the change is going and they freeze, they paralyze.
[00:20:44] Alexa: They analyze it to death.
[00:20:46] Rhonda: Yes, they analyze to death, "What's going to happen to me?" and it truly creates fight or flight level of stress if you don't manage it right. Sometimes you get pushed back from employees where they just won't engage in the new process, they'll just want to stick with what they have, or they'll fight. Oh my gosh, you guys, I went through a title restructure. Titling was part of one of these projects and it lasted like a year and a half and I don't think it ever finished because people would not let go of what their titles were and where that came from and the history. [laughs]
[00:21:18] Tyson: Titles are personal. Titles are personal for sure.
[00:21:20] Alexa: Yes, identity. It's people's identity. I'm curious, so one of the things I talk about in product design is a lot of you have to build consensus, right? It's something that you do as product designers, you link a lot of what engineering can do with what the customer wants with what the sales team needs with blah, blah, blah, but when you do this, I was just listening to a book where they were referencing, I think it was Dan Ariely or one of these decision researchers at some point basically saying that if you are confronted with a decision that you cannot take back, you are significantly more satisfied ultimately with that decision.
For example, if you move in with your partner after you're married, you're 15% less likely to get divorced. People who live together before marriage are 15% more likely to get divorced because I'm going to venture to guess that they're like, "Man, you can take this one back, this isn't new. I already tried this, take it back," right? Yes, exactly, but if you move in together and you're married, you're like, "That ship has sailed, so I'm going to find a way to make it work." My curiosity, I don't want to go down a tangent on that, it peaks my curiosity because I wonder how much of what you do involves consent.
Consent from groups is something that I know people in the HR discipline struggle with a lot. It's like, "Let's ask everybody before we do it," and it's like, "Yes, sometimes," or sometimes you should just do it. How do you deal with that?
[00:22:40] Rhonda: That is a very popular thing in the literature for probably the last couple of decades of a thing to do, especially with just any change.
[00:22:48] Alexa: Build consensus?
[00:22:49] Rhonda: Yes, build consensus in both product design and change management. I personally don't think it works. It causes more stress than it does anything else. I think it would be better to, you're getting that whole front-end research process. If you do the strategy and use the research properly, you're going to probably be pretty close to getting consensus. If you start asking people, the users to join in that process too early, it gets really muddy. I want it to work, I just haven't seen it work very well. [chuckles] That's like 20 years of that.
[00:23:28] Alexa: What's that Henry Ford quote? If I'd asked my customers what they wanted, they would've said a faster horse. That's why you don't ask people, or in our case, don't just survey people. You'll get a bunch of fucking answers. It doesn't make them true.
[00:23:42] Rhonda: Exactly. There's really good and controlled ways to do focus groups or have workshops in the middle of any design process so that you can make sure that you're on target with whoever you're designing for, but as soon as that turns into some sort of group design, it falls apart really fast, and that makes sense because you're bringing in people or it's just not their expertise. It becomes really polemical and you get off track.
[00:24:11] Alexa: Everybody will give you feedback, it doesn't make it helpful.
[00:24:13] Rhonda: Totally. It's not that feedback's bad, but some feedback is more educated than others.
[00:24:22] Alexa: Right, yes, it's like the Oprah views you know to ignore.
[00:24:25] Rhonda: Exactly. I think there's better processes to get buy-in from employees or your users within the design process.
[00:24:33] Alexa: Any best practices that people can take away here just if you're trying to get buy-in?
[00:24:38] Rhonda: I think focus workshops are great. We could do a whole podcast on how to do that because you can set the parameters of what we're doing here and where this information is going to go, and then you have the opportunity to come back and say, "Here's what we did with it" so there's a way to do check-ins. Then I think best practices actually to get pretty far in the process, and then pilot. If you pilot and measure, that's going to be a better measure of consensus than this weird group-think thing that got popularized the last couple of decades because it just doesn't work. It's like analysis paralysis for years. I've seen it, I've lived it.
I would say best practice too is transparency into your research, into your user research, and your project research, which is super, super controversial because all of these companies that do the best products that we like, I would say, by the way, whether you're talking about a work environment or the products we use, our users are generally dissatisfied. It's probably because most of the stuff that we're living with and in, spaces we're in were built for a different era, so we've moved beyond what's being built for us. You've got these generally dissatisfied people.
As long as you do the research of what they actually want, and then check in with them and say, "Here's what we're thinking" and you get feedback like, "That works so much better" than getting a group together to design these random projects. You got to get the information from them. Then I recommend, and I get pushed back on this so much, I recommend being really transparent in what you're designing and how that process is going. The reason it's so controversial is any design process like this, when you're prototyping and piloting, there's so much value in intellectual property.
Most companies don't want to share that because they want to keep their market share, they want to keep their profitability. There's really good reasons to keep that information.
Design is so expensive, it's always a cost center. Even the ideas that you throw away are hugely valuable and companies want to keep them off the market so they can have them, but if you can share, my argument is usually if you can share that in a reasonable way, and most of us don't have those products that are so competitive that you can't share. I can see if it's some amazing new Tesla.
[00:27:22] Alexa: Yes, or even you can get an NDA, you can get a gag order signed before somebody tests something, but also in the context of this conversation for the people world, I could wax poetic about this all day, but people don't get enough leverage to test. There's this fear that, I think it's partially an equity theory, I think it's partially just a lack of leash for the people team, but they don't get given a whole lot of space to test things, and therefore, they wind up rolling out things company-wide that, yes, it's expensive, but it's also time-consuming, but it's also like, is it more expensive and more time consuming than rolling out the wrong fucking thing across an entire organization? I can argue the other side of that. It's going to be interesting.
[00:28:00] Tyson: Remember though, it's also a group, going back to what we said, everybody has an opinion. As an HR person, I don't give a shit what the engineering team is doing. I know that they can do their job, but if I make a mistake on the HR team, everybody in the company is coming after me. It affects everybody. I think that there's fear from HR teams often that if they do something and it fails, they lose credibility with their business partners that they're supporting, right?
[00:28:29] Alexa: Yes, I think that's all the communication, and to Rhonda's point, you got to share your research, you got to share your why before you eat it.
[00:28:37] Rhonda: What you just described happens in every sector and every employee group.
[00:28:42] Alexa: Everybody does.
[00:28:44] Rhonda: Yes, we're so fucked up. When I first transitioned from design-centric companies, they were truly design companies and you're surrounded by designers, and you think that everybody thinks like that in the world and they don't. You move to these other groups that aren't used to iterating and you just fail all the time.
[00:29:06] Tyson: Integration is important.
[00:29:06] Rhonda: One of the things that's so fun about this. Yes, the projects that we do out here, we fail so much and it's hysterical. Buildings fall down, materials fail. It's antics all the time. I think for design teams and people that are used to create up processes, it's exhilarating. That's how you get to the best stuff. If you did not come up in that sort of environment, we've been taught to really fear failure.
You get a lot of people that are risk-averse, and you think that's going to be for the big things, but I see it when people move their desks to the other side of an office. You can see that fear everywhere.
[00:29:52] Alexa: Feng shui.
[00:29:54] Tyson: I know someone who tried to claim constructive dismissal because we moved their desk.
[00:30:00] Alexa: What?
[00:30:01] Tyson: Basically, constructive dismal is when they say like, "I had to quit my job because they changed my job so much that I was no longer able to do it, so basically, they fired me." He claimed constructive dismissal because we moved his desk.
[00:30:07] Alexa: Holy shit. Yes, people do hate change. They say they don't, but they do.
[00:30:16] Tyson: They do. People do.
[00:30:18] Alexa: They say they take risks and they don't. Most people are highly risk-averse. Let's pivot this to the positive spin on this, Rhonda, which is, how do you think going into, and I'm not going to throw all the fucking buzzwords out here because we don't have time on one podcast, but let's talk a little bit about how people can use this as a discipline to influence how they think about building cultures back after COVID. You've got groups that are talking about hybrid. I'll be honest, one of my dream jobs is to basically do exactly what we're talking about but just for office spaces. I used to run a magazine, but we would just photograph good-looking interiors that were thoughtful at office space.
That's how I got into this whole thing, this whole industry, but theirs, for example, there's a factory two blocks from where I live and they make Tootsie Rolls. It's a fucking Tootsie Roll factory. It smells like chocolate in the morning, it's insane. You go for a run and you're like, "I smell hot Tootsie Rolls, this is amazing." It also does not make you want to run, it makes you want to go get croissants and drink cappuccinos at the cafe, but you walk by the building and it is the most depressing lobby you've ever seen in your fucking life. Yes, it's a factory, yes, I get there's a food space, so everybody comes out in here and it's at lunchtime, but it is fucking depressing.
I wonder, what are some of the things that groups can do that are tangible that do not require hiring whole groups of world builders, but that people can be thoughtful about deliberately creating for people as they come back to physical spaces or as they try to think about their experiences, this "hybrid" work environment? What are your thoughts about that?
[00:31:51] Rhonda: That's interesting. I guess I'll tackle it this way. One of the reasons I'm most excited about this weird disaster that we're in is when things are this broken, things are really, really disrupted. You're looking at rubble, so you can rebuild your office environment and your team structures any way you want. What I think this experience did for us is take all of those really, not old.
[00:32:24] Alexa: It had to change. No choice.
[00:32:25] Rhonda: Yes, you don't have a choice. One of those bullet points was looking back like, "Remember where we came from?" and it's like, "Why? We've moved on." We're not going back.
[00:32:36] Alexa: Please, let's not.
[00:32:36] Tyson: Yes, let's not.
[00:32:37] Alexa: Especially in fucking HR. Let's please not, yes.
[00:32:39] Rhonda: [laughs] Let's move forward. I think if you have the means or there's a way, and there are ways that you can actually get some good design work and world-building done without breaking the bank, but if you're just a team working on your own, I would really focus on shift the perspective from, "My employees are coming into work today" to guests. Treat it like a dinner party like how do you come in, what are you going to do together and really special? I'm making an assumption, by the way, with this answer that we're mostly going to be working remotely. Most people are in a hybrid, at least in my sector.
There's certainly a lot of jobs that you have to go into the office, but in the West Coast and for a lot of the sectors that are out here, there's a lot of remote working, but you still have to get together. When you do get together, it should be, I think, take the money that you're saving on rent and space and all of that and just blow these out and make it more an experience-marketing event. It's designed specifically for the people that have to get together, make them comfortable. I think there is another bullet point in that article that was about psychological safety and that is a real thing. That is a major, major thing, especially, when we're this disruptive and there's this much change happening.
If you can take some create your comforts and take stress down a notch, even just with the meetings, do that. Just spend less time worrying about what's the perfect office layout and worry about a place you're going to interact with each other and set the office up for that. If that means no desks, don't do desks.
[00:34:18] Tyson: I was wondering, are there any specific examples of things that maybe make people more collaborative? If we're looking in a workspace, what are some specifics? You said no desks could be one.
[00:34:31] Rhonda: It could be, it totally depends on your user. It's like, "If we're going to do this for real, we would sit down and pick some personas" because they're going to be really different. For an engineer that likes things, everything's very organized and buttoned up. That is going to be a very different experience than probably you guys. It depends on the person, but the basics of design are still as important as they always were. I think we forgot about a lot of them mostly because of cost and density and space. Lighting is huge. Spend money on lighting.
[00:35:05] Tyson: So not fluorescent?
[00:35:07] Rhonda: It can be. Not bad fluorescent.
[00:35:09] Tyson: Natural light maybe?
[00:35:11] Rhonda: Yes, so there's a lot of studies that-
[00:35:14] Alexa: The blue light.
[00:35:14] Rhonda: - talk about the benefit of daylight.
[00:35:16] Alexa: Of bluelight.
[00:35:18] Rhonda: Yes. Truly, you'll see your sick days reduced if you've got access to daylight and good lighting. Layered lights, you can have the fluorescent lights that are maybe half on, and then, lamps. It seems so silly, but light your office spaces like you would your home and you're probably going to have reduced stress in your employees. If you think of it almost like a teeter-totter and there's a fulcrum and your goal is to reduce stress with your environment any way you can, people will be more collaborative. The safer they feel and the more comfortable they feel, they'd be more collaborative
[00:35:55] Alexa: I think about some of the offices I used to work in, I realize they were trendy and cool. They were so fucking bad for some of the work we needed to do, so bad. I remember having to go down like a seven-minute elevator ride to take a private phone call, and it was like, "This is so fucking stressful." [laughs]
[00:36:11] Rhonda: Yes, or we went into this trend of open offices for many, many years.
[00:36:16] Alexa: We took it way too far.
[00:36:18] Rhonda: Yes, and the real answer is everybody knows that we had to do open offices for space. Space is expensive.
[00:36:27] Alexa: Yes, you could cram as many people in.
[00:36:28] Rhonda: [laughs] Exactly.
[00:36:29] Alexa: The average per-employee square foot was like 8 or 10 square feet on average across commercial spaces in office space prior to the pandemic, which means everybody had basically like a three by three cell. It's fucking insane.
[00:36:42] Rhonda: Yes.
[00:36:42] Tyson: That's what I had before the pandemic. [laughs]
[00:36:44] Alexa: Fucking nuts.
[00:36:45] Rhonda: Exactly.
[00:36:45] Tyson: It was brutal.
[00:36:46] Rhonda: In some groups, it's good. It's actually, cram a bunch of designers in a space like that with some workspaces and they're collaborating, they'll be happy.
[00:36:55] Tyson: Yes, I worked with architects. The building was designed for architects and they all work on top of each other like that. Architects are very messy. They've got stuff everywhere because they're so creative they don't clean up. Yes, exactly, just everywhere. Then me, I'm like, "Oh my God." I'm sitting out in the open, first of all, as an HR person not able to have private conversations in this dingy little space which they put way at the back.
[00:37:17] Alexa: Which, again, it's like, "What?"
[00:37:20] Tyson: Yes, I would sit out in the open and because I needed to have a more private space, they were like, "Okay, we know, we'll just push you way at the end of the hall." There's no natural light, it's just this dark little corner. I got screwed. [laughs]
[00:37:34] Alexa: I worked on Wall Street and my first job, they put us in what they call bullpens, which was basically the middle of the floor. On the outside of the floor was all the offices with windows, but half the time, the windows were drawn or the curtains were drawn or you'd be in a part of a bullpen where you couldn't see a fucking window, so you'd just be in this windowless-- Actually, my very first desk was in a windowless internal room that one of the older senior analysts kept at 64 degrees because he was the oldest one, so he got to control the temperature.
I would walk in and I had two Patagonias under my desk. I was like, "I'm tired by 2:00 PM because I haven't seen the sun since 7:00. This is crazy." Literally, a windowless room. What the fuck.
[00:38:14] Rhonda: You don't even need a design expert to tell you that that's a terrible environment to work at. We were talking about Disney earlier and Universal Studios, think about the painstaking solutions that they go to make sure that the environment elicits a certain behavior for people, which is, be entertained, be happy, and buy stuff. [laughs]
[00:38:36] Tyson: Spend money.
[00:38:37] Alexa: Also, aren't they the pioneers of being like, "It's very much about your first and your last experience"? If you have a shitty experience in the middle where your kid whines and you wait in line too long, as long as your first impression and your experience when you leave are phenomenal, you are very likely to come back to that experience and forget the shit in the middle. Think about a bad lobby or a shitty office space or a shitty event where when you leave, it's just kind of like, "Whatever." That sucks. That's no bueno.
[00:39:05] Rhonda: Oh, I was just going to say, it's just really weird to me that we all experience these places. Maybe not everybody gets to Disneyland or Universal Studios, but we go to restaurants. We go to these places that are built to impact our behaviors positively and we don't translate that very well to our work environments. I think you're asking for trouble, so it's like you're just not going to have the productivity that you would otherwise. It's like lower your expectations or be better.
[00:39:35] Alexa: Yes.
[00:39:36] Tyson: I was just wondering if part of your work also includes the people. If we're thinking about that lobby, would you then consult on saying like, "You should probably have a receptionist that has some of these characteristics and traits to make the place feel more welcoming and friendly"?
[00:39:49] Rhonda: Yes, so that's my expertise is the human part. I might work with somebody like an architect that's really good. My background is in architecture but I'm not really good at-- My expertise isn't form or aesthetics as much as it is, what do we need to do to get humans to behave a certain way? The joke is always I designed the invisible stuff. It's like all the stuff in between because you really, really can influence that human behavior.
It's like I might make a comment or like if I'm working with a team, I might make a comment that, say a reception desk feels too dominant. You don't want to approach it. But the other part of that is we can design how that receptionist might behave with incoming employees or-- Again, it's like Disney-fy it. The behavior that all of those employees have towards guests and customers is designed. It's like totally designed.
[00:40:50] Alexa: [unintelligible 00:40:50] all of these people are trained to do this shit to a tee.
[00:41:00] Alexa: Yes, it's all experience design. It's like, "Okay, what do you say to the guests when they walk in?"
[00:41:04] Rhonda: Yes. That's exactly right.
[00:41:05] Alexa: You make eye contact, you ask them this. It's all theater, it's literally theater. That's a great way to put it. Speech, theater and debate.
[00:41:13] Tyson: Yes, that's another episode but a lot of this I feel like happens at casinos as well. Like pumping air into the-
[00:41:19] Alexa: Oh, my God I forgot about that. Every time I go to Vegas I'm like, "What time is it?"
[00:41:24] Tyson: Why is this so fresh?
[00:41:26] Rhonda: Yes, it's loud. It's like, you're not going to get sleepy.
[00:41:29] Alexa: Yes.
[00:41:30] Rhonda: Absolutely.
[00:41:31] Alexa: The food sucks.
[00:41:32] Rhonda: Totally getting manipulated. You talked about what is the-- How do you design human behavior and you should. It's like instead of an employee handbook talking about what we should wear, talk about kind of like you would in retail. Like lets talk about how we behave in certain situations. That would be really great for executive leadership. I was on a team for a while where we went through painstaking efforts to separate what was happening at corporate. The way the sausage was made was super stressful for the employees that were working in the stores. We just said, as far as they knew whenever we saw them we treated them almost like you would at Disney. They were guests. They just didn't know. Everything was rosy. It was like, the reality was, it was really, really hard scary work that we were doing and they didn't-- If they saw even a fraction of it and we've tested this. It's like their performance goes down. It's just like design the behavior otherwise.
[00:42:39] Alexa: Which goes against all these crazy transparency shit, right? It's like, "[inaudible 00:42:42]. This doesn't affect your job. Maybe you don't need to see how the sausage is made."
[00:42:47] Rhonda: It's funny. I had a team once and they did. They were a younger team. It finally came out as with pitchforks. We want to know everything that's going on. It's totally [unintelligible 00:42:58] It's like, "Fine, here you go." It was so stressful.
Part of it was good because I think a lot of people had an appreciation for what executive leadership has to do to make a business run that they just didn't appreciate. When you're working on projects, even when you're senior on projects, your world is the project. You don't have context about the machine or the risk associated with machine. In some ways that was really good visibility because afterwards they were like, "You know what, we didn't want to know." [laughs]
[00:43:35] Alexa: "Holy Shit and close the curtains again. I take it back. Yes, I take it back."
[00:43:43] Rhonda: Because as a leader at the time, it's easier for me to be totally transparent but you know it's going to scare the crap out of them. Just because you're talking about, I think you were saying earlier, it's like you make one decision that's wrong and there's major, major repercussions socially, financially. It's just like it's kind of scary. I know that is a trend for people want transparency into like everything that's happening in those boardrooms. First of all, it's really boring and second is just like, why stress. Just do really good work.
[00:44:19] Alexa: I think there's a huge gap though, right? I think there's a gap between, we don't really tell you guys much to the point where you're marching up to the boardroom and saying, "Hey, tell us everything with pitchforks," and the people who are like, "We'll tell you everything." Most of that I think comes back to your display and articulate your research and your bindings and your why. Which is just your why, right? Like it's just your fucking motivation. It's like why did you do this?
I find that groups have a really positive rhetoric of saying like, "Here's why we did something. Not why we're going to do something but why we did something," have a much stronger level of trust, where maybe they never did to the pitchfork part.
[00:44:58] Rhonda: I've had better experience when I say things like, "Here's the why. Here's what we're going to do. Here's what we expect to happen and we're going to measure it. If it doesn't happen this way, we're going to go back and try again." That's been a lot more successful in the projects that I work on than when you just say, "Here's where we're going." If you just say, "Here's our North Star," which is this is common, right? You've got a CEO that will say, "Here's our North Star, we're all going to march this way," and that means something different to everybody.
If you give them really kind of like-- I don't mean like the marketing speak that would come out of a change management team. I mean more like, "Here's how your day is going to change. Here's what meetings might look like. Here's like really nuts and bolts some of the things.-- Yes, here's what we're going to try. Then if it doesn't work, we're going to try something else."
That I think is positive transparency because it tells employees, in this case employees but be the same thing with users or consumers. It makes you a little vulnerable. It's like we're doing something that doesn't have a precedent, therefore we have to try and take a risk and it's going to be uncomfortable.
[00:46:05] Alexa: We thought about how this might affect you down to like the way it might change your meetings.
[00:46:09] Rhonda: Yes. That's every time what people get worried about.
[00:46:13] Tyson: I feel like there will be more resistant to that. Like if you think about reverse psychology. If you're like, "Okay, I know we're making this change in an effort to be more engaged, collaborative, efficient." Whatever the thing is. You almost don't want people to know that. Maybe I'm just a stubborn bitch and I don't want to know that I'm being manipulated.
I know that these snacks were put here specifically to keep me at work longer. You know that kind of thing. You want to think, "No, the company gave me these snacks because they care about me and they want me to be well fed." You know what I mean? That's like a silly very surface-level example.
[00:46:49] Alexa: Well, it's a good point though.
[00:46:50] Tyson: Sometimes if people know that they're being experimented on, then it defeats the purpose and they might do the opposite of what we want them to do.
[00:47:00] Rhonda: Yes.
[00:46:59] Alexa: I feel like the oxygen thing in Vegas makes me hate Vegas even more.
[00:47:03] Rhonda: Right, but I think that's why the transparency is important in that part of the process because when you just do it, it's like-- I used to work at Microsoft and they have this awesome campus where you can get your dry cleaning done. There's an awesome gym, any kind of food that you could think of. It's like, of course it's there to make us stay on campus as long as possible. For me it's just like, I don't care, I'm a workaholic anyway so I'm really glad I don't have to drive around town to drop off my dry cleaning but it is manipulative.
Design is a manipulation, all of it is. I feel like in some ways you get your big girl pants on and realize that we're trying to do something and make this-- because really if employees are in a good place--
[00:47:51] Alexa: You can't change behaviors and make people do what you want them to do and not at the same time make people do what you want them to do. You can't have it both ways.
[00:47:58] Rhonda: Yes, which way do you want it? It's a job, it's not your--
[00:48:04] Alexa: Just because you're manipulating a behavior doesn't mean that it has to be a bad experience for the person that you're manipulating. Like the snacks in the office is actually great to a lot of people. They save a lot of fucking money on snacks. Maybe the snacks are better or they're healthier or there's better access. Yes, they feel a little more taken care of but they work a little more. Like all right, well, it's not a bad trade-off. Doesn't have to be all terrible.
[00:48:23] Rhonda: Really what we're doing is manipulating an environment to support the behaviors that we want. If you decorate your home in a way that makes you want to stay there and be there and you're comfortable and all of a sudden you sleep well, you're healthier. All of these things fall into place. That's just one on one. That doesn't seem like a bad manipulation to me.
[00:48:47] Tyson: You have a beautiful painting behind you. I want to know like is there anything that you do in your home office that like is like a trick? Are there any tricks that I should-- Like should I go by a plant or something for my home office to make me more motivated?
[00:49:01] Rhonda: I surround myself with a lot of art. I'm really lucky to be in a position to do so. We have a gallery and so we're constantly switching over the arts. Like right now, this is column random piece, then I'm working on this exhibit or it's three generations of artists. I'm super excited about it. What I get to do is switch my art out a lot and I collect. It's a passion of mine. I'll tell you what, it makes a difference.
Like in my spaces I make sure the light is right. I make sure that I have beautiful things around me. Whatever that means to you. I think artifacts are important. I don't have a lot of tchotchkes or little things but I do have a lovely painting, makes me happy [unintelligible 00:49:46] sculptures.
[00:49:48] Tyson: What about crystals? What about [unintelligible 00:49:50]
[00:49:51] Alexa: Stop it. Stop it. I'm sorry, Rhonda, I can't take her anywhere.
[00:49:57] Tyson: What about sage burning?
[00:49:59] Alexa: I can't take her anywhere.
[00:50:01] Rhonda: I would say that if that works for you, you should do it because the scent, it works. Put your diffuser out while you're at it, get some lavender going.
[00:50:08] Alexa: Yes, man. Just spray some Sandalwood and I'll do whatever you want. That's mine, but yes.
[00:50:14] Rhonda: Yes, seriously. I think furniture is critical. Make sure your furniture fits. If you are in a position at any of your companies to buy chairs, spend the money. Buy the $800-chair, don't do the $30 office depot.
[00:50:27] Alexa: For esthetics or for ergonomics, because those two things have not met yet.
[00:50:30] Rhonda: For ergonomics.
[00:50:31] Alexa: Those two things don't know how to be each other's friends. Most great chairs are fucking ugly.
[00:50:36] Rhonda: Yes. My role in design, I think things should be smart and beautiful. [laughs] My answer is, yes, they should be both.
[00:50:44] Alexa: Sometimes those things [unintelligible 00:50:45].
[00:50:48] Rhonda: People do respond to esthetics. It does change their mood but the comfort of that chair and your desk and all of those things are important. It really does make a difference.
[00:50:58] Alexa: I'm sitting in an Eames chair right now that is not ergonomically friendly.
[00:51:02] Rhonda: Nice. I am also in an Eames chair.
[00:51:04] Alexa: Eames is not for furniture design.
[00:51:06] Rhonda: It's very comfy. I like mine. I'm in, I think it's the Time Warner chair. That's an Eames chair. It's comfy.
[00:51:12] Alexa: Nice. I could nerd out about furniture design all day, but I won't. Last thing, Rhonda, before we move to our people problem. I literally could talk about this all day because I'm fascinated by this. Maybe we'll have to do a part two, Rhonda part two. My question for you is, what is one thing that you wish that people who work with working populations, so people who work in organizations and are in charge of those people experience, what's one thing that you wish that they would use more to improve the work experience? What's one thing you think it's underutilized?
[00:51:47] Rhonda: I think that this tactic is underutilized, and it's probably the most critical thing I see, most critical problem I see. I think we need to get people in a place where they can practice and actually be more creative, and I don't mean in the way that article said, like, actually build their--
[00:52:08] Alexa: The article didn't say anything.
[00:52:09] Rhonda: Yes, it's just like that was so bad. I think that companies can help employees, and it's usually pretty fun, do activities that--
[00:52:18] Alexa: Is this like ideal stuff like put a bunch of skittles on the table and a bunch of blocks, just like shopping cart challenge shit, or is this like, just give people the space to be--
[00:52:29] Rhonda: You give people the space to be more creative, and there's all sorts of things that you can do to build your capacity for creative insight. The reason this is important, it's really, really critical. When we have so much disruption happening, we know that we can solve problems both analytically and with creative insight. Just the way our institutions are built, we are better at analytical reasoning than we are at creative insight. We're in a position where we really have to have creative insight, because we don't know where we're going. We are solving all these problems where we don't have precedent for it.
Without creative insight, that really throws people into stress. If you can provide ways for people to practice their creative insight, I think that that is going to get the most laughs from executive staff, and it's the most valuable thing that can be done. What are those activities? Yes, some of the ideal things are fun. Really, you can get there through play, you can get there through engaging in the arts. It doesn't even have to be in the office. Play in the culinary arts paint, do some storytelling. Honestly, you guys, when I meditate, I go sit with the chickens and I imagine little stories that the chickens are doing, and that counts.
[00:53:47] Alexa: I can't wait till you write those books.
[00:53:49] Rhonda: I know. Oh, no, that's ridiculous. It's like you asked [unintelligible 00:53:52] animals-
[00:53:52] Alexa: Chicken Ninja series by Rhonda Mohr.
[00:53:54] Rhonda: Yes, seriously.
[00:53:55] Tyson: That's amazing.
[00:53:57] Rhonda: It's not hard. It's like doing little creative imaginative playful things, we'll build those networks, and if we can build those networks, people will perform a lot better. Most educators across the world are trying to figure out how to get these curriculums back into our schools and our systems, and they're going to argue about it for years. It's funny, because it's really not that hard to do. Take up a sketchbook and do something fun or do something playful, and that would be a big deal.
[00:54:27] Alexa: All work no play.
[00:54:29] Rhonda: Yes, it's really important, because you cannot innovate without those networks being strong, the neural networks I'm talking about. That's a big one. I would also say companies can just spend the money to make people a little more comfortable right now because just because of that lack of creativity, and people can't see where they're going, they're literally going into stress that's unprecedented, right?
If we can just take that into consideration when we're planning our meetings, you change your voice. Do all the things that we actually know how to do, we just don't in the workplace usually. Make sure this food is not just-- don't go to Qdoba and get the taco lunch. Get something that's special and meaningful and try to have meaningful moments as if you would treat your employees like guests versus employees. I think that's pretty important for moving forward right now.
[00:55:26] Alexa: I love it. All right, moving on to our people problems, Tyson, what do we got?
[00:55:41] Tyson: If someone wants to know what type of work should be done in person, so as we're moving into this hybrid zone, what type of work would you recommend should be done if you're asking people to go into the office?
[00:55:55] Alexa: What do you think, Rhonda? What type of work is best done in person based on all your human design expertise?
[00:56:04] Rhonda: I think certainly-- It's like the answer is always it depends. It depends what type of job. [laughs]
[00:56:11] Alexa: We love that answer around here.
[00:56:12] Rhonda: I know. It's like the answer is always, depends, but let's generalize it. I think anything collaborative, certainly. Whiteboarding sessions, when you're solving, when you're innovating, when you really need to riff off of each other or need to have conflict, in some of those, when you have to have those kinds of serious interactions, whether they're playful and, or around innovation or design, or they're like, "We have a problem, and we need to really roll up our sleeves and have some conflict." It's really easy to hide behind technology when that's going on.
I would say that in those scenarios, when you have heightened emotions, as a potential, good or bad, those would be good things to have in person, and then in a well-designed even temporary environment. I would not have meetings, upon meetings, upon meetings in person. They're just-- kill them.
[00:57:11] Alexa: Yes, that's the only reason you're coming together.
[00:57:14] Rhonda: Yes, it's not worth it. Any type of tasks where you are truly collaborating and working together. Then I would say the other one is just networking. You have to spend time with each other, so that you can trust each other, and trust your processes. If you're doing the social part of work, overlap those a little bit. Have your, whether it's food in your collaboration or something but you can't just-- it feels okay to me to spend some time on the networking.
[00:57:49] Tyson: Okay, wait. Second question. What are your thoughts on having alcohol there? Is that something that you usually advise? Say yes or no.
[00:57:58] Rhonda: I'm okay with it. It's always been a cornerstone of my studios. [laughs]
[00:58:02] Tyson: It helps, right? Sometimes it helps take the edge off for people.
[00:58:07] Rhonda: It does. [unintelligible 00:58:09] alcohol is going to lower your inhibitions, but I think more than anything, most people that we go to happy hours with, they're not abusing alcohol. It lowers the formality. I think it's always weird when you go into a company and they're like, "No alcohol."
[00:58:32] Tyson: Oh, I worked for one of those.
[00:58:34] Rhonda: Yes, me too and it felt really puritanical.
[00:58:38] Tyson: Yes, it's like you don't trust me to just like what?
[00:58:40] Rhonda: Yes, exactly.
[00:58:43] Tyson: [unintelligible 00:58:45] church.
[00:58:44] Rhonda: I'm also a little bit older, and I grew up in the world where we had beer carts and madmen like the Bar Station. To me, I'm okay with it. I leverage happy hours with teams, and I think that it's important to do that. This is kind of such a weird rabbit hole, but when you do that-- I like to do the hierarchy. If you're the leader in the group, you pay for everybody.
[00:59:14] Tyson: Absolutely.
[00:59:14] Rhonda: Keep things in your hierarchy and keep those protocols in place, and that helps. I have no problem with alcohol in those. I don't have.
[00:59:27] Tyson: Everyone in HR is like, "Oh," like freaking out right now. They're like, "Ah, I don't want to be the only one not drinking." [chuckles]
[00:59:33] Rhonda: Just limit. I just feel like we're grownups and if we can't figure out how to go into a conference room with a--
[00:59:39] Alexa: Yes. Why hold people to a different standards at work than you would hold normal people anywhere else?
[00:59:44] Rhonda: Yes, it just makes it [unintelligible 00:59:48]
[00:59:48] Tyson: HR is the one that has to deal with it after, right? They're the ones if someone gets too drunk and says something stupid, the HR people are the ones who have to deal with it.
[00:59:55] Alexa: Yes, I get that, but--
[00:59:56] Rhonda: How often does that happen?
[00:59:58] Tyson: It happens. It happens.
[01:00:00] Rhonda: I'm sure it does.
[01:00:01] Alexa: It happens all the time.
[01:00:03] Tyson: All the time.
[01:00:04] Alexa: Regularly in the month of December.
[01:00:04] Rhonda: But enough to just-- Yes, I just don't know that it happened enough to have a rule.
[01:00:06] Alexa: Yes, I just think that shouldn't [unintelligible 01:00:08] It can also if coworkers go to the bar together. It's less HR's problem but you still work together.
[01:00:14] Tyson: Then, I don't have to deal with it. Look, I'm down for alcohol. We all know.
[01:00:18] Rhonda: Yes.
[01:00:19] Alexa: Yes. Yes, we know. Everyone's heard the intro to this podcast. Yes.
[01:00:21] Tyson: Oh yes.
[01:00:23] Rhonda: Quite frankly, just provide food [laughs].
[01:00:26] Alexa: Yes, exactly. Exactly, and maybe don't set the precedent that you, party down at the office. We lubricate a little. We bond, and then, we move the fuck on when that's appropriate to.
[01:00:35] Rhonda: Yes, I'm definitely a fan of really good food, keep people-- I don't mean snack packs. I mean good food. Give people good food. Give them a drink with their good food and-
[01:00:50] Alexa: I love it. All right, Rhonda, speaking of good food, I'm getting hungry. Where can people find you if they like what you have to say? What you have to say? Where can people find you?
[01:00:58] Rhonda: I'm in the middle of nowhere up in the [unintelligible 01:01:00] so--
[01:01:01] Alexa: Yes. Well, not literally find you but maybe a website or a--
[01:01:05] Alexa: We don't encourage stalking here at People Problems.
[01:01:08] Rhonda: I know right. Come on by and we'll put you to work, though, but you have to water and feed the chickens.
[01:01:12] Alexa: Yes, if you want to take care of some chickens. Yes.
[01:01:15] Rhonda: [laughs] That's exactly right. We'll pay in eggs.
[01:01:19] Alexa: Yes, if you need eggs, we pay in Bitcoin and eggs.
[01:01:20] Rhonda: Exactly. You can find me on Linkedin but you can also find me on biotenstudios.com, biotenlabs.com, or threeacrecanvas.com. Three Acre Canvas is kind of my favorite one that we're working on right now. When we were talking about earlier, about the transparency issues in design, we made the decision not to hold back our IP so we're going to share all of our projects on this website. That's probably the most fun for people. Everything else is kind of businessy and a little bit boring but Three Acre Cannabis is a good one. It shows all our failures and antics. There's usually-
[01:02:00] Alexa: Three the letter or three the number?
[01:02:04] Rhonda: Three the letters. Yes.
[01:02:06] Alexa: Three the letters, so T-H-R-E-E. Got it, Three Acre Canvas. I love it. Rhonda, thanks for being here. This was a blast.
[01:02:11] Tyson: Thank you soo much.
[01:02:11] Rhonda: Thank you. Talk to you soon.
[01:02:13] Alexa: Bye.
[01:02:14] Rhonda: Bye.
[01:02:15] Alexa: This episode was executive produced by me, Alexa Baggio with audio production by Ellie Brigida of Clear Harmonies. Our intro music was also done by the wonderful Ellie Brigida of Clear Harmonies. You can find more information about us and future episodes at Peopleproblemspod.
[01:02:27] [END OF AUDIO]