PDR Austin Perspectives

On Thursday, February 28th, PDR hosted it’s 3rd annual Austin Perspectives event hosting a crowd of 50 from various industries across the Austin and San Antonio market. The event is an invitation-only gathering, bringing together thought-leaders in the community for an interactive discussion. This year’s event focused on the value of an Enterprise Workplace Strategy as the framework for workplace decision making. Through their 40+ years of research and working inside organizations, PDR found a pattern with leadership initiatives targeting specific imperatives.

“PDR has identified 10 business imperatives. They are the enterprise-level corporate initiatives that organizations are focused on now or will be in the near future. The business imperatives are Inclusion, Well-being, Empowerment, Employee Experience, Right Talent, Innovation, Synergy, Agility, Exponential Technology and Purpose.” – Lauri Goodman Lampson, PDR President & CEO

The event broke out the audience into 5 groups, where they each took a deeper dive into one business imperatives. The selected imperatives were voted on by the participants as the challenges that organizations in the Austin market are trying to solve. The industries represented by the audience included leaders from commercial real estate brokers, architecture/engineering/construction firms, technology firms, legal, business consultants, and non-profit groups, to name a few.

Here are some key takeaways from the PDR facilitators and audience participants.


AGILITY – Lauri Goodman Lampson and Marc Bellamy, PDR

How does PDR define Agility in the workplace?

Lampson “Agility is a mindset. It’s a mindset that is hard to achieve without a catalyst. In the workplace today professionals are given titles, responsibilities, tools and a place to work. The place is the physical solution to the work that is expected. When the place is fixed, limited, and narrowly defined, the expectation of work and the mindset becomes the same - fixed, limited and narrowly defined.  Yet, we need work that is dynamic, limitless and broadly impactful.  The places for work should catalyze the mindset needed to do the work people are capable of.   Agility will unleash human potential!”

What are some ways that the workplace can support Agility?

Bellamy “The workplace can support organizational agility through modularity. This planning concept allows for built-in flexibility for quick, cheap space adjustments even at a large scale. A strategically-planned workplace will not need much physical adjustment. A balance of spaces to enable desired activities must be combined with the technology and processes to support both individuals and teams. Incorporating dynamic occupancy strategies allows organizations to maintain a stable footprint and minimize disruption through headcount fluctuations and dynamic team shifts.”


EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE – Carolyn Moore and Drew Patton, PDR

Is Employee Experience solely for the benefit of the employees? 

Moore “Employee Experience addresses every touch-point between workers and the organizations they work for. It addresses culture by strengthening purpose, building trust, and creating buzz. The impact can be seen in improved performance and synergy, how much workers care about what they are doing, and the energy in the workplace between different groups with different knowledge sets.”

What are some examples of this initiative being applied to the workplace?

Moore “One of our guests, was from a cyber security tech company. If that is your industry, building trust into your offering is incredibly important. So, we discussed, how a workplace can help build trust from the inside out, starting with the employees. We talked about creating the right workplace density, or magnet areas where people can gather. We brainstormed formal qualities of the space that might include how to bring the organization’s guiding principles into the workplace as thoughtful installations—and not by putting generic marketing content up on a wall, or acronyms that spell TRUST—everyone has seen enough of that. How a business represents itself to its employees in the workplace needs to be more nuanced—based on real stories and specific goals, in order to feel authentic.”

Why do you think this business imperative is gaining momentum in the Austin market?

Patton “Austin, is leading the U.S. tech talent competition by scaling its root culture of trust, belonging and speed. 

Trust - if I share my personal world with you will you honor our bond of privacy.
Belonging - do you know who I am, and will you treat me as the special person that I am.
Speed - simply faster.

All of Austin is a tech workplace. People are thriving here because of its authentic fundamental foundations and its emerging global market reach. Austin, company cultures and workplace design are all wrestling with the paradoxical forces of the tech world. Organizations that understand and embrace these paradoxical forces are having fun.”




When people think about inclusion in the workplace, they are usually referring to affinity groups or hiring diverse populations, but I know it’s more than that.  Can you share more about that?      

Fuex “Inclusion is about more than hiring diverse populations. It’s about tapping into the diverse and unique perspectives and experiences of all employees. A saying I like to use to illustrate this is “diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” People need to feel a sense of belonging and trust, so they can feel comfortable sharing their perspectives and insights. Accomplishing this through design is tricky, but important. An interesting light bulb moment at Perspectives came from a consultant in the audience, who noticed that the gaming tables they installed in their workplace were not being used by women. What was intended to be a magnet space, resulted in a natural segregation, which was the opposite of what they intended! When determining what spaces are best to bring people together and make connections, get input and ideas from a diverse population and find the common themes among them.”



RIGHT TALENT – Heather Van Ravenswaay, PDR

How does PDR define Right Talent?

Van Ravenswaay “We believe that hiring the most talented and most qualified individual, isn’t always the right talent. Often, the right talent is the person who may not have all the skills, but you know will be the right culture fit for your organization. Skills can always be taught, but the right personality and cultural fit is a lot harder to find.”

Why is Right Talent becoming such an important imperative to your clients?

Van Ravenswaay “There is a big push in the workforce right now for organizations to innovate and create…faster…better. It used to be that organizations wanted to attract the smartest and most talented individuals, but what some of our clients are realizing is that today their workforce is good talent, but it’s safe talent. There’s no innovation and they are finding themselves needing to refresh and pivot their business. As one Fortune 500 client shared with us, ‘We are struggling to find the right talent that can embed with our current talent and revamp our talent pool. We need a more creative mindset and fresh perspective to develop new processes.’” 



WELL-BEING – Shawna Hills, PDR

How did your group define well-being in the workforce?

Hills “Traditionally it has referred to physical well-being, but one Gen Z guest brought up an important point. She said Well-Being in the Workplace is not just being well physically, it also means social happiness. It was very important for her to like and enjoy the people she worked with, make friends, have fun together!”

What are some ways that well-being in the workplace is associated with attraction and retention?

Hills “One guest from the construction industry said the #1 question from top candidates at recruiting events is no longer about what projects they will work on, but instead they are asking what the office looks and feels like.”

Thanks to all of our guests who attended our event this year, and brought your own perspective to our lively discussion. Let’s continue the conversation. Do you have an Enterprise Workplace Strategy?

Contact our Regional Director, Shawna Hills