Using data to create the perfect workspace


By Kerry Cope

I have always been driven by a desire to explore. I also know that whilst I explore, I explore with purpose. And what has been perking my interest of late, magnified by the enforced remote working, has been understanding our networks and what this looks like without the structure of an office. Is it really any different?

We have had the advantage at SMRS over the course of my career to get the opportunity, through a number of different techniques, to explore our preferences and strengths. Whether this be Myers Briggs, Management Colours, Gallop Strengths, to name a few, all have had an underlying purpose of supporting self-development to support better communication, better collaboration, better management and better leadership. The list goes on.

I am a big believer that understanding is key to ongoing development and getting the best out of each other. With the key purpose of happiness, not in a ‘let’s all hug’ way, but in the acknowledgement that we spend a lot of time at work, it doesn’t matter where that work may be done. The underlying fact is we probably spend more time with our colleagues than we do our friends and family.

And, with the familiar saying ‘you can’t chose your family’ the same can be said of your colleagues. I know here at SMRS we are all supportive of each other, as we are connected by our common purpose. We all want to deliver our clients smart, simple and effective answers that help them connect more meaningfully with the people they have, and those they want. No matter where you sit in the agency, you’re guaranteed to help towards this common purpose.

We are committed to giving everyone the confidence and ownership to build a home where everyone is encouraged to develop and meet their highest potential.

And how we achieve that is connection – which is why I am excited about ONA (Organisational Network Analysis) – this adds the science to the psychology, well that is my interpretation. You may have seen our Head of Innovation, Richard Badley’s blog on the subject, which does the data science more justice.

It is a way for us to understand connection, which enables us to understand our networks. We all have different networks at work, we all see it and experience it. But do we really understand it. And now more than ever, those networks are likely to become more important.

This got me thinking more about collaboration, which has always fascinated me. Everyone talks about it, us, our clients, our partners – it’s all about collaboration. We don’t do enough, we need to do more, why aren’t we doing it already, we collaborate too much, why do we need to collaborate?

Put simply, it helps us get stuff done, working together to develop ideas, deliver solutions, challenge our thinking, challenge ourselves and our clients. However, collaborating effectively doesn’t necessarily mean doing more of it.

And, this is where the hyper excitement kicked in. ONA allows us to map our collaboration networks, to ask questions and start to build a picture on:

– Who we are actually collaborating with

– Who gives us our energy and motivation

– Who do we go to in times of challenge and stress

– Is this the same network when we want mentoring and advice

– Whose time do we really value, who always get where you are coming from

– Do we collaborate differently when using different tech

We have just started on our ONA journey. The next phase with help us understand some of these things, and will no doubt tell us lots of other stuff we hadn’t even considered. Because as with any data, it’s the opportunities it provides, and if you hadn’t quite guessed yet, that’s the bit I am excited about.

Our people are at the centre of everything we do – which is the reason we are investing in ONA internally – but also why we are being mindful of the trust they give us and making sure we are being respectful of everyone’s privacy. We have been taking everyone on the journey with us from day one, which has been integral to engagement, and to ensure our agency trust network isn’t broken.

Whilst this may be within the field of data social anthropology, if there is such a thing, big brother it isn’t. This does make me mindful for the next phase though, some of our people may find the questions more challenging, but I do believe, everyone is clear on our purpose.

That this is to help us all understand our role in our networks, to help maximise these opportunities to work more effectively together and identify networks we may want to be part off to support development and opportunity. All of which should make our working day a happier and fulfilling experience.