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Creating Human-Scale Workplaces

By Cathy Hutchison

Last week was our annual  Independence Day event.  Our Dallas offices are just off of the Addison Airport where the Kaboomtown event features one of the best fireworks displays in the US.  It is a family event with children of all ages.  We bring lawnchairs and hang out to watch the airshow before the fireworks begin.

Kathy Smith–our office manager in Dallas–was a Children’s Director for a church earlier in her career.  At both our Christmas and July 4th events she works to make the children feel special creating activities and treats just for them. Kathy’s gift brings something to these events that money can’t buy.  She brings the insight and talent that is part of her and in doing so creates something you can’t design and purchase.

We aren’t the only firm who benefits from team members bringing their personal selves to the marketplace. RDG Planning and Design in Omaha and Des Moines has a program called Simply Well which involves all of their employees in making choices for health.  It has created an active culture that encourages great nutrition choices and receives sharp discounts on insurance premiums. The spark for the program was personal.  John Birge who leads the Omaha office was living the life of an architect who worked way too many hours and didn’t have time to pay attention to health.  His children–both doctors–intervened and got him to change his lifestyle.  The success of that move created a passion which John brought to his firm.

This idea of human-scale workplaces is completely scalable.  PepsiCo CEO, Indra Nooyi , famously wrote  to the parents of each of her direct reports so they could experience pride in their children, and could also know that they had succeeded as a parent–an action prompted by her personal experience of her own mom’s enjoyment of introducing her as the CEO of PepsiCo.

One of the cultural business shifts that we are experiencing acknowledges that there is no work life and home life…there is just life.  And as we’ve experienced at Idibri, the more human scale the workplace, the more successful the company because after all, it is the people who do the work.

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