Did Les Nessman have it right? My ideal office of the future

Les Nessman fake door sign

I’ve been watching with interest the discussion online about ideal office space and I’ve come to the conclusion Les Nessman had it right.

You may recall the classic episode from the 70s show WKRP in Cincinnati, where news director Les Nessman draws imaginary lines around where his office door should be and asks the rest of the office to respect his space.

There’s been a huge shift in the past five years to open, collaborative workstations.

The idea behind these workspaces was noble. Force people out of their offices and workstations, and you’ll foster collaboration, drive innovation and break down silos.

But as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and most employees who work in these cattle stalls report being unhappier at work and less productive.

They say noise levels and lack of privacy make it hard to concentrate and do “heads down” work and god forbid you try to have a conference call or hangout with someone. I was reading an article the other day where one employee said it’s actually hurt collaboration in their company, because most people now wear headphones all day and don’t talk to each other.

I have friends that work in some companies where they don’t even have a workstation any more. There is a space for their team and transient workstations for the days they are working in the office.

Now some may say, what’s the big deal, sounds great. People are working from home, they don’t need regular workspace. So what if it’s noisy?

Others say it is a big deal and we need to come up with a new approach that will achieve the original goals of openness and collaboration, but address the needs of modern work. I saw a design last week that had bizarre small desks that could move and looked like a honeycomb. It made me think of a hamster wheel. No thanks.

You see the problem is many of these so-called “experts” who are designing modern workspaces are overlooking some very basic realities and needs of office workers today.

The first is the importance of natural light. Number two is addressing the plague affecting office workers of the 21st century: inactivity. The third goes back to where I started this blog, Les Nessman and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which states people by nature need to satisfy their physiological needs first (eating, drinking, shelter), then feel safe. It’s tough to feel safe in open workplaces.

So it got me to thinking if I could design my ideal work space, what would it look like.

Everyone would still have a desk or place to work with natural light. You’d sit in pods of four or maybe six with people you like. The pods would have chairs that are like ultramatic beds. Push a button and you are sitting up, or recline for casual conversation. When you didn’t want to chat anymore, you’d push a button and sound-proof glass would come up and you turn your chair like you’re on the Voice, and presto, you have peace and quiet for concentrated work.

There’d still be open, airy spaces where you could chat, have a quick meeting or just take a break. In every pod, or maybe in a separate area, there would be treadmills and exercise bikes fully wired so you could participate in a meeting or listen to a webinar while getting exercise.

There would be a Dog Café where you could bring your dog to work and visit with them over coffee or take them out for a walk at lunch. It would be street level and become a tourist attraction—people would come from miles to see the dogs in the window.

And last but not least, there would be a beer fridge and free beer for everyone on Friday afternoons.

Yes, that workplace of the future would make me happy.

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The shop around the corner: #BuyCanadian

Shop local banner

If there’s been one positive outcome of the acrimonious NAFTA and the free trade talks, it’s the renewed support for Canadian farmers, retailers and manufacturers by shopping local.

We had a great #BuyCanadian experience lately. This summer we renovated our bathroom. Our contractor took us to a bath specialty store for fixtures, but we still needed a vanity and storage.

I googled bath stores in Kingston and found Bath Depot in the Rio Can centre on Gardiner’s Road.

Bath Depot (Bain Depot in Quebec) is a Canadian success story. It was founded by four brothers from Quebec and is unique, because it’s not just a retailer, it acts as a manufacturer, distributor and retailer for its products. The result is great products, made in Canada at reasonable prices. Today it has 25 stores in Ontario and Quebec and more than 200 employees.

They were excellent to deal with and had one of the best selections of vanities, fixtures and accessories to choose from and we love our new bath room.

This summer, we also scoured the big box stores to find replacement vacuum bags for our old vacuum. We had just about given up, when Dave said let’s check John Trousdale’s hardware store in the town of Sydenham. John has one of the best selections of appliances in the area, and will match just about any price. Sure enough, he had what we were looking for.

Some economists say it’s impractical to #BuyCanadian—that there simply isn’t enough Canadian manufacturers and products and we need to keep calm and keep trading on. I say it’s time to support our local businesses and when you can, #BuyCanadian.

Not sure where to find local goods? Check out madeincanada.ca, a site created by a 17-year old Ontario student on his summer vacation that lists Canadian made goods. Not bad, eh?

bathroom
My renovated bathroom with vanity and storage cabinet courtesy of Bath Depot

Picasso’s favourite meal

charcuterie board

Last night I walked in the door, and Clare had this beautiful charcuterie plate waiting for us to sample. Charcuterie has become our new favourite treat on weekends .

Charcuterie is a French word that means cooked meat or flesh. It was used to designate butcher shops in fifteenth-century France that sold cooked pork. They weren’t allowed to sell fresh pork so they devised different ways of cooking the meat, salting, smoking and curing it, and using salt and a variety of spices.

I’m not sure who the first person was to introduce cheese to charcuterie, but remind me I have to thank them. Our board was teeming with Wilton cheese, goat cheese and red pepper jelly.

And of course, you can’t enjoy charcuterie without wine. Last night, Dave and I enjoyed a bottle of The Tragically Hip’s Fully Completely 2015 Grand Reserve to keep it local.

This week’s #HappyAct is to prepare a charcuterie board and enjoy. It’s the perfect dish for entertaining during the holiday season.

What’s your favourite charcuterie item? Leave a comment.

Witness a strong team in action

Empire Life co-chairs Ian Alexander and Karen Swain reveal the thermometer surpassing our goal

There’s a saying in sports. There’s no “I” in the word team.

Watching a team come together and work magic is…well, in a word, magical.

This past week, our Empire Life United Way committee and team wrapped up its annual United Way campaign. Our goal was $240,000 and we blew it out of the water, raising more than $260,000. The money is still coming in.

Those of us who have been involved in our United Way campaign for many years have been asking ourselves, what did we do right? What was the magic formula and how do we replicate it next year?

While I think there were many things that made this year’s campaign a success, having a strong team in place was key.

It’s always interesting working with teams and volunteers. Some people prefer to work diligently behind the scenes on a specific task; others are happy to pitch in where needed, while others are more comfortable taking a leadership role.

When teams start working together, there’s always that initial adjustment period when people are trying to figure out the plan, who’s taking the lead, who will do what and the personalities of the players.

And then a magical moment happens when the team just clicks. The plan is in place. Everyone knows what they need to do and they do it.

That’s what happened with our team this year, and they did a magnificent job.

A big kudos to our campaign co-chairs this year Karen Swain and Ian Alexander who built a strong team and whose positive support and leadership guided them to their goal.

And a big shout out to Jessica Schonewille on my team who is one of the hardest working volunteers and supporters of the campaign I know, and who came in every day this week despite having bronchitis to do her part. You’re the best. 

Final notes

  • To learn more about the important work United Way does in your community to change lives locally, visit your local United Way website. If you haven’t given to this year’s campaign yet, give now.
Aaron Lutz is one of our behind the scenes workers
My friend Aaron Lutz is one of those guys who works hard behind the scenes but prefers not to be in the spotlight, so this time Aaron I’m putting you in the spotlight!
Jessica Schonewille
Jessica Schonewille came in every day this past week despite having bronchitis–that’s how dedicated this team was

Get out and vote local

All candidates meeting
My neighbour and councillor incumbent Bruno Albano speaking at our all candidates meeting in Verona

This past week, pop star Taylor Swift urged Americans on her Instagram account and the American Music Awards to get out and vote.

A testament to her power and influence, nearly 65,000 Americans ages 18 to 29 registered to vote within 24 hours, and those numbers are continuing to grow in the US every day.

I’ve never understood why anyone in the United States or Canada wouldn’t exercise their right to vote. It is the single most important freedom and right we have.

Here in Canada, we will go to the polls once again this month to elect municipal officials. I recently attended the all candidates meeting for my district, and one of the incumbents said while municipal elections have traditionally seen some of the lowest voter turnouts, it is actually the most important vote because it is your opportunity to influence and shape what happens in your own community.

I was extremely impressed with the three men running for mayor, and the five men running for the two councillor positions in my area. Every single incumbent was well versed on the issues, passionate about the beautiful area we live in, and had a vision for how to attract young families, business and look after our growing senior population. It’s reassuring to know that after all the votes are tallied, no matter what happens here in South Frontenac, we will be well represented.

I was also extremely impressed with the dedication and commitment of all the candidates to serve. At least four or five of the people running had full-time jobs, young families and served on committees, volunteer organizations and more. Dave and I know three for four of the guys personally, and they are all stand up people. I applaud all of them and their families for running for council. My only wish was to see more women and diversity represented.

This week’s #HappyAct is to get out and vote locally. Most municipalities have online voting so there’s no excuse not to vote!

On a lighter note: If you read last week’s post, A Country Mile, you’ll appreciate this. I’ve seen many of our local candidates this week out and about. Mayor candidate Mark Schjerning waved to me three different mornings this week on my commute into Kingston—he was standing at the side of the road in Sydenham and Harrowsmith waving to cars. My neighbour Bruno Albano, who is running for councillor was putting up signs on highway 38 yesterday. We honked our horn in support, making him jump. Only in the country!

More posts on voting

If I were Prime Minister for the Day

A country mile

country fieldOne of the many things I’m thankful for is living in the country. While I grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, I’m forever grateful we made the decision more than 20 years ago to get out of the city and move to rural roads where the air is fresh, the mosaic fields of fall spread before you like a harvest feast, and you can walk or drive for a country mile without seeing another car or person.

What I didn’t count on was how much the simplistic charm of the little hamlets and crossroads, and the people who inhabit them would grow on me.

For instance, I was driving to Tamworth the other night for a 4H meeting. The sign at the church in Croyden said, “Rhonda. Sunday. 6:30.”

It made me wonder who was Rhonda and what was she doing at the Croyden church on Sunday at 6:30? Was she getting married? Or was it an unhappy occasion—a memorial service for Rhonda? Was she young or old?

I did wonder if perhaps my friend Rhonda Nontell who has a cottage nearby was giving a gospel performance at 6:30 in Croyden, but then the sign would say “Rhonda. Sunday. 6:30. $5.” I mean most of us would pay at least $5 to see that performance.

These are the things that keep me up at night.

And then there is the country wave. When I first moved to this area 20 years ago, my best friend’s Mom Audrey educated me on the country wave. The country wave is different if you’re walking or driving.

When walking, the proper way to wave to people is a slight nod of the head or raise of the hand for a half-wave. No full-out wave, or Queen wave, just an acknowledgement you saw them driving by.

If driving, there are two approved country waves. There’s the two finger wave, where you just raise two fingers off the steering wheel or the four finger wave with your four index fingers extended. A slight nod of the head is acceptable.

Over the years, I’ve experienced everything from discovering a newborn fawn at the end of my driveway, to eating my breakfast cereal with an escaped cow staring at me through the kitchen window, to chickens on our hot tub. Yes, country living is definitely better by a country mile.

This week’s #HappyAct is to give thanks for where you live. Here are some pictures I took on my drive and walk on the country roads near Tamworth the other night.

horses

country sign
This is the first sign I’ve seen for turtles and snakes

barn silosunset over a field

A puppy at heart

Girl with dog

Ever since I can remember, there has been a dog in our house.

I’ve never paid more than $10 for a dog. My Mom always said mutts make the best pets.

Nine years ago on Canada Day, we brought home a little German shepherd, golden retriever puppy named Murphy. Our house has been filled with love ever since.

Murphy was free until he ate a pair of the kids’ underwear which required surgery. Our free dog ended up costing us $780.

Murphy has been one of the most lovable affectionate dogs I’ve ever owned. He’ll actually get up on the couch or approach you when you’re sitting down and nuzzle his head into your shoulder and lap and just snuggle with you. I call him my gentle giant.

I fear Murphy’s days are numbered. He has that disease that affects a dog’s spine where their back legs start giving out.

For the past two weeks, each morning he struggles to his feet, then stumbles towards the front door and down our porch steps, walking sideways and looking back at us with mournful eyes.

We decided to stop taking him on our nightly walks. Yet each night when he sees us grab the leashes, he totters to his feet and approaches the door with a little wag of the tail. This picture was from yesterday when Clare and I took him for a walk on the K&P Trail. Even though we struggled to get him into the car, he was game.

He is still a puppy at heart.

I remember Dave’s dad telling me once that even though he was in his 80’s, in his mind he was still a teenager.

This week’s #HappyAct is to always be a puppy at heart. We love you, Murph.

More posts for dog lovers