Is it possible to redefine the concept of a workplace and build a more genuine, people-centred environment?
I had a refreshing conversation with Ben Whitehouse recently. Ben is the Chief Workplace and Sustainability Officer at the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand – this is the large regulatory body ensuring the smooth running of New Zealand’s aviation industry. No small task.
Ben is also a long-distance commuter (travelling two hours each way) and a lover of steak and cheese pies. But for this conversation, we focused on his role as a decision-maker leading workplace transformation.
Ben emphasised the importance of authentic leadership, as well as the connection between leadership and culture in building a desirable workplace.
At CAA the workplace is defined to include various locations such as offices and vehicles. They need to understand the needs of employees, and animals in their work, meaning that Ben’s take on the workplace is rather innovative.
We talked about the tension between efficiency and experience – Ben sees this tension as an asset.
Ben’s view on continual learning and data-driven decisions is that it is central to creating a great workplace: “If you think you’re going to get it right, it’s probably not going to be right. It’s actually okay to try things… It’s okay to push the technology and push the environment.”
I asked Ben whether there are any myths in how leaders see the workplace today – does he see any areas where people have blinkers on? He talked about working from home – I’ll let you tune in to find out more.
Ben’s concluding thoughts served as an inspiration to think big, push boundaries, and be unafraid to try new things in the modern workplace.
You’ll be inspired by this one.
“If you think you’re going to get it right, it’s probably not going to be right. It’s actually okay to try things. Part of our role is to be bold sometimes.” Ben Whitehouse
00:01:57 – Ben’s thoughts around how his move from the UK to New Zealand contributed to his current perspective
00:03:31 – Ben’s executive role as a workplace decision maker and its effect on people and NZ travellers’ experiences
00:04:55 – His views on authentic leadership and understanding the team
00:07:24 – Connections between leadership and culture; building a desirable workplace
00:11:20 – Ben’s broad experience of the workplace, including offices, vehicles, and other business locations
00:12:16 – Employee needs, personalisation, and animal welfare
00:14:22 – The healthy tension between efficiency and workplace experience
00:15:28 – The concept of ‘Just Culture’ and importance of learning and data-driven decisions
00:17:30 – People-centred workplace discussions; challenges and barriers, including financial aspects
00:19:45 – Ben’s insights on personalising workplace experience and small details leading to satisfaction
00:21:43 – Ben busts a myth about a key modern workplace stereotype
00:26:59 – Ben’s concluding thoughts; inspiration to think big in the modern workplace and push boundaries