Workplace Makers Podcast: Classic pitfalls in workplace programs with Paul Irwin

Paul Irwin is an experienced workplace program manager with an equally rich background of experience in IT project management. 

Paul has seen all kinds of mistakes and successes with workplace programs. 

It was a real treat to delve into his insights around what tends to get in the way of success; how workplace programs are misunderstood and what it takes to achieve remarkable results. 

“Lots of organizations will not fully understand what that future state is and will look at various studies and go “Oh well what we need is 70% of our space is open-space work, and 20% of is quiet space, and 10% collaborative and we’ll do that. But of course they’re not understanding the needs of the people in the way that the workforce operates.

And then when those buildings are completed and people are occupying that environment, they wonder why nobody’s in the quiet zones.” – Paul Irwin

Key moments

1:27 – Paul talks about his background including his ten years in the Army, living in the Falklands, with a myriad of experience in radio and telephony – pivoting into property due to infrastructure needed for CDMA – a mobile phone technology.

6:26 – The people aspect of workplace programs is often overlooked by Technology and Property project managers

7:19 – People say ‘That’s a property project’, when it’s a change project

7:44 – Organisations struggle to identify the customer

8:50 – Key points of failure in workplace programs

13:18 – How to have conversations with management who have an unclear understanding on their initial requirements

18:51 – Workplace redesign affects staff turnover

25:44 – Knowledge and IP from workplace redesign needs to be embedded into the organisation to be successful

29:43 – How to get a great result in workplace program management

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Resources mentioned in the show

The three-legged stool for workplace programme management – This visual shows the relative importance of People, Property and Technology in a workplace programme – as equal contributors to a successful programme. It helps programme and project managers demonstrate the importance of each of these three key elements of a workplace transformation.

Gap analysis – An assessment used by consultants, programme and project managers, to understand the key differences between the current and desired states. It becomes the basis of an action plan to address the difference (or ‘delta’). 

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