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I shared with business leaders this morning how I (and others) see workplaces shifting and evolving. For some it will feel more like a revolution than an evolution.

  • Teams will be brought together – who may never meet… working anywhere on the planet.
  • People will work concurrently for several and many employers.
  • People will want to work part time, and flexibly as we live longer and want to stay meaningfully employed.
  • Supervisors might not see or be present when team members do amazing work.

Yet what we know is that customers are demanding increasing transparency and authenticity from the organisations they choose to buy from.

So the challenge has become “how do I keep employees as brand advocates, connected to each other when physically they will be disconnected?”

As in most organisations, performance reviews are part and parcel of reflecting on the year that has been, along with looking forward into the next financial year. The challenge with performance reviews is that we tend to look at things in terms of past and future – they are definitely not enough to ensure that people feel connected.

How we got started at RedBalloon in connecting the team was working with the five pillars of well-being as set out by the New Economic Forum. I believed that if I look after my people’s well being, they will have the energy and capacity to look after our customers. (My presentation this morning was in part about how organisations participating in the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Steptember tick four of the five elements of well-being: connection, fitness, recognition and giving.) And I wholeheartedly encourage businesses to take up this wonderful initiative. Easy to do – and a great step (pardon the pun) towards connecting people – and supporting a great cause at the same time.)  But I digress.

I was fascinated and curious of how, using technology, that we at RedBalloon could build a platform that would connect people, build employer brands, be mobile, peer to peer and social. Harnessing everything that these changes in workplaces represents… and finally and with a certain fanfare… our customers have given voice to this dream:


At redii, we believe it is so important to reflect on the present. In that moment of success, in that moment of someone doing a good job (small or large scale) – it is so important to recognise that person and demonstrate to your entire team that they are valued and their work is a solid contribution to the business. This of course will have a positive effect on morale, but in turn financial success. After all, your people are your greatest asset.

In Ross Perlin’s article in Fast Company last week, he challenges us to place aside everything we know about work  – as the rules have changed. And I couldn’t agree more. My number 1 observation in this changing face of workplaces, is that peer-to-peer recognition is going to be a game changer. There is no stopping this momentum in my eyes.


Old Rule One: You commute into an office every day.


The face of the workplace is changing forever. No longer is it common to know your colleagues by face and name – you might only know them by their email address or time zone as we explore more global work practices, relationships and cross-border networks. In saying this, you might not even have much “face time” with your manager or supervisor – you might be working remotely in Singapore, while your direct line manager is in Sydney.

Old Rule Two: Work is “9-to-5”

NEW RULE: YOU’RE AVAILABLE (when you want to work) 24-7.

 This certainly varies depending on the urgency of the industry you work in, but with the nature of our forever growing online presence, this could be as simple as checking emails in bed; working on documents on the train; reviewing presentations with your late night cup of tea. It has become second nature to us to work wherever we are, whenever possible. After all, there is always work to do! But I do practice what I preach here – whilst we are so busy, it is so important that you are present with those you are with – so if you are with your family, be present.

Old Rule Three: You have a full-time job with benefits.

NEW RULE: YOU GO FROM GIG TO GIG, PROJECT TO PROJECT (several employers at a time)

Complacent might be the word here. How many people do you see on the train each day, catching the train that gets them there bang on 9am, and the one that leaves the station at 5:10pm. Many people arguably see work as a means to an end. You go to work. You earn money. You go to work. You earn money. A bit like that ‘Work.Eat.Sleep.Repeat’ mantra some have adopted across social media lately. But isn’t there more to your workplace than this? My intention is that this mantra begins to change through the greater implementation of the redii platform across organisations. Let’s turn this into: Work Hard.Recognise Others.Receive Recognition.Be Proud. Love What You Do. Repeat.

Old Rule Four: Work-life balance is about two distinct, separate spheres.


I tell people all the time how silly I was to think that starting a business would mean I would have more of a “work life balance”.  If you are passionate about what you do, you will never work a day in your life. When you are valued, deeply connected, feel proud of your contribution then work is as important as home – there is a complete melding between work and life – we only have one life, how we choose to spend each minute depends on our feeling of worth and contribution. We know we made a contribution when others recognise what we do.

Old Rule Five: You work for money, to support yourself and your family.


Terms such as “breadwinner” and phrases such as “someone has to bring home the bacon” do nothing for this rhetoric. This was one of my many motivations for writing “Live What You Love.” There comes a time in everyone’s life where they need to stop, assess and figure out for themselves why it is they get out of bed each morning. “Going” to work may mean various things to people, but what I believe should be integral is a mutual feeling of recognition for doing good work – wherever that “work” might be. At redii we are all equally as passionate as each other about recognition in the workplace, and happy workplaces in general.

I truly believe that peer-to-peer recognition (as you can tell from the above video) is the way forward in this “new world order” of workplaces, and in employee engagement. Redii recently visited Campbelltown Catholic Club as part of their “Kudos” program that has been rolled out. As you can see for yourself, the real recognition comes from the people with their ears to the ground – who see you keeping customers happy on a daily basis; the people who see you being a “big dog” and taking initiative around the organisation; the people who see you cleaning up after morning tea when everyone has left it for the cleaners. Your managers are never going to see this sort of thing – because it is the mortar between the bricks that is seldom paid attention to. But your peers see it – empowering peer-to-peer recognition in any workplace is a powerful tool of engagement and reward – even something as simple as a thank you via an online platform that all employees can see, and consequently “like.”

“We value our employees and how they contribute to our business. It’s natural that ours needs to be an employee-led program; we want their input into what they see will add extra value. It’s less about what I want to achieve and more about what we want it to achieve for our staff. And I really want people to understand what the program is, understand how they can use it, and why it gets used.” – David Mackaway, General Manager, Operations (Challenger)

Thank you to all those that listened this morning…. I have a deep passion for great work teams (no matter where they reside). It is so much more than ’employee engagement.’ I’m all about employee well being.

Reader Interactions


  1. Your understanding of these rules ahead of many business leaders will continue to bring you talented people who want to be recognised for what they bring in total, not just their 9-5 contributions. Those who take the train that will arrive at 9 on the dot and leave at 5:10 will be the dying breed, as will owners & MDs who think you can take advantage of your best people and let the slackers & disinterested workers bring down morale.

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