Workplace Makers Podcast: Making workplaces the place to be with Sandra Poelman

Our children, nieces and nephews are fun machines. They’re constantly in search of fun. Too young for responsibility, they delight in the small things and they instantly know when something is boring. 

We grow up and somehow we lose that. We get responsibility, a job, status and drive and what we truly enjoy can go out the window. Sometimes it takes a workplace, a leader, a manager or a partner to open up those possibilities again – to see the fun in work, to enjoy it. 

Workplace making and placemaking have a lot in common. Placemaking is about attracting people to a place, bringing the vitality of human interaction to a place that would be otherwise dull and lifeless. Imagine a place you want to be, it draws you in. It offers more. It’s attractive, desirable and enjoyable. 

This is the dream. However many of us are challenged with the role of the workplace today. I believe the workplace, the space and buildings we occupy ‘at the office’ will always have a place. That will look different as we go forward, but making that space an attractive place to be is crucial to organisational culture and design. 

Sandra Poelman is an international placemaker based in the Netherlands, with an exciting history of taking cities around the world from being hopeless to hotspot. She is a complete inspiration and as workplace makers, we have a lot to learn from her. 

Take a listen as she outlines how she influences people with a range of interests to be inspired to make places, not just buildings. 

“You have to work together with so many people. The whole cooperation process is so complex that needs a lot of attention. 

It’s also people oriented design in doing that. And when people are feeling good and are proud of their environment, it means so much. That’s really those things that make it important – for humans make it come to life.”

Key moments

1:03 – Where placemaking started for Sandra with a local employer in her city letting 40,000 people go

3:52 – Adding value to a city with economic and people payoff by creating ‘breeding grounds’.

7:01 – Who is part of the ecosystem that inspires future planning

10:30 – How being in complete control doesn’t necessarily give the largest value to placemaking.

12:00 – What happened in Eindhoven, the transformation.

14:25 – What needs to happen to get people ‘unstuck’ to achieve their vision

18.08 – How long the placemaking process takes

23:50 – How important is human-centred design?

26:11 – What makes an ideal workspace

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The Workplace Makers podcast is about how to make the workplace an attractive place to be, where people are happier and more productive.

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