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FRESH FRIDAYS: The Smoothie Barman

by James Callander July 31, 2015

I love a good client office… oversized atrium, table tennis tables, astro turf… let’s not forget the sushi chef, or the meeting room butler…

When high finance meets technology there seems to be no limit to the office design budget. As I’ve travelled around Europe over the years to meet clients, I’ve kept a little register of the best /worst /coolest offices that our clients work in.

Last week I enjoyed a rather heathy start when visiting a fantastic investment business in London. Having been whisked through reception I was met by a breakfast canteen which would’ve looked more at home in a luxury 5 star hotel than an investment business. I was served a delicious smoothie by the ‘Head Smoothie Barman’ – novel job title – refreshing start.

Building a workplace (and a smoothie bar) that aligns with your beliefs can really help to make for a heathier, happier team. It can also pay dividends in terms of inspiring people to do business with you.

The Nudge Unit

Last week a report came out in the FT featuring the Behavioural Insights Team (which has spun out of Whitehall and is now jointly owned by the Cabinet office, Nesta and the staff).

This ‘Nudge Unit’ was showcasing the positive impact this team could have upon public sector service provision and individual engagement– ultimately by ‘nudging’ people into doing positive things.

They showcased pilot interventions such as…

  • Encouraging tax payers to pay their tax bill by delivering leaflets about the benefits that their money will bring to schools and hospitals.

  • A Job Centre worker sending a job seeker a personalised text message to wish them luck in their job interview.

  • Positioning (tasty looking) fruit in the canteen of a school to encourage school children to eat healthily.

It appears the notion of ‘benevolent paternalism’, or ‘nudging’, definitely has wings. The Nudge Unit says it’s delivered 10-20 times the normal investment in the pilots that they ran. It’s a catchy idea, and one that can definitely be valuable in the workplace…

Applying nudge at work

In reality, companies have been nudging us for decades to purchase goods, book holidays, and buy popcorn. But in a fast-paced world of constant distractions it can be hard to nudge people into action – people get paralysed by choice and inertia. Tech companies have worked tirelessly to make the user experience so easy that buying a book can take one click, or ordering a cab can take two.

I have retold the story of the smoothie barman on a number of occasions this week… Not only has this helped me reach my 5-a-day, but the story has also helped us seek and supply candidates for a role within a great company culture.  

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