Ex-Xero Workplace Experience Manager Nathan McLean

I had the pleasure of discussing the evolving role of Facilities Management (FM) with Nathan McLean, an industry leader in Workplace Experience since his key role at Xero.

Nathan outlined a clear vision for a customer-centric approach to the workplace – FM has now grown beyond maintenance of buildings and utilities; it is now about nurturing a fulfilling workplace environment that can boost productivity and overall satisfaction.

We talked about how this works and what FM’ers can be doing:

  • Collecting qualitative data through direct conversations and observations
  • Gathering quantitative data through technology and sensors
  • Ensuring effective communication and information dissemination

I am always fascinated by how people get interested in workplaces, and Nathan shared that he was profoundly influenced by his former colleagues, particularly one of his early managers.

We ducked into the realm of leadership and personal development to find out which thought leaders he would recommend and you’ll find his recommendations below.

Lastly, you might think that FM is operational mainly, but Nathan  highlighted the necessity of clarity in an organisation’s workplace strategy for FM to be able to deliver in this environment.

Nathan brings a future-focused vision for facilities management, underpinned by a strong customer-centric ethos and a keen understanding of the dynamic nature of the workplace environment.

You’ll enjoy this conversation if you are considering whether FM is the right area to be supporting your workplace strategy.

– Nina

 “Xero just innately understood that investing in making life easier, more enjoyable for our people, was better for the business.” Nathan McLean

Key moments

– 00:01:45 – Nathan’s journey with Xero, an NZ-based and international cloud-based accounting software company.

– 00:02:40 – Nathan describes the challenges and excitement of building offices around the world for Xero.

– 00:03:35 – Nathan discusses what Workplace Experience means to him, emphasising its wholistic nature and the importance of customer perception.

– 00:05:00 – Nathan outlines the three spheres that make up a great Workplace Experience: physical space, technology, and people processes and culture.

– 00:06:25 –  Xero’s focus on a human-centric approach and why it was significant to their workplace strategy.

– 00:06:40 – Nathan describes why Xero invests in making life easier and more enjoyable for their people at work.

– 00:07:30 – Nathan shares his personal motivations for being in the field and his philosophy of putting people first.

– 00:08:35 – Nathan’s decision to join Xero and the appeal of creating a new kind of workplace experience.

– 00:09:40 – Physical space as a tool for productivity, engagement, and well-being.

– 00:11:50 – The approach of many companies to reinvent their spaces to better serve staff who come in.

– 00:12:45 – The importance of creating a space that doesn’t just encourage people to come in, but also removes barriers for them, making the experience frictionless and exciting.

– 00:13:00 The importance of leveraging technology to create a flexible, adaptive, and friction-free office space

– 00:15:00 – The shift in people’s attitudes towards the office and how facilities management needs to respond

– 00:17:00 – Employers need to support their facilities management teams

– 00:19:00 – Collecting qualitative data through direct conversations and observations is as important as gathering quantitative data through technology and sensors.

– 00:20:00 – The challenge of creating a customer-focused workplace

– 00:22:00- The necessity of effective communication across multiple platforms

– 00:23:00 – How to ensure information is effectively disseminated throughout an organisation. 

– 00:24:00 – The people who have influenced Nathan’s approach

– 00:25:00 – Recommended resources

– 00:26:00 – On a lighter note, Nathan’s favourite meal – any type of fish dish, which he seldom cooks it at home due to his wife’s preferences.

– 00:28:00 – The crucial role of facilities and workplace management professionals

Resources mentioned on the show

The Motive: Why so many leaders abdicate their responsibilities by Patrick Lencioni

Author Brené Brown

Connect with Nathan


The Workplace Makers podcast explores workplace making – building modern workplaces that people are drawn to, wherever they work from

Workplace Makers – the podcast about people building workplaces that attract a crowd

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