Construction Cost & Project Management

Two (or more) for the Price of One


November 21, 2019

(Post by Poole Dick ambassador Andrew Thorp – inspired by Steve Lowndes)

It’s remarkable that Steve Lowndes and I get on at all. For starters, he’s an avid Stoke City fan, and it’s not that I support a rival team – I’m just not really into football. Furthermore, as a storyteller my essential research might be watching a TED talk or the Graham Norton Show, whereas Steve prefers to thumb through a copy of Air Quality News!

However, when he stumbled upon a piece about our client Lidl we melded our minds to consider that very pressing issue in this frenzied world of ours – how to do two things at once.

What follows is not a standard piece about time management, but rather 5 unusual examples of how humans can usefully do two (or more) things simultaneously.

The article in AQN which so excited Mr Lowndes was about Lidl’s announcement that it was installing 300 rapid electric vehicle (EV) charge points in its car parks over the next 3 years, an investment of some £25m. These would have the capability of bringing vehicles to near-full charge within 50 minutes, a useful way to make your shopping time doubly productive.

This got us thinking – if you can re-charge your batteries while you shop, what other examples are there of getting more value from the same activity?

The piano staircase
Psychologists took an interesting approach to the challenge of getting people to exercise more, specifically how to persuade the travelling public to take the stairs rather than the escalator. Their solution: the piano staircase. There’s one in the Stockholm underground; each footstep plays a note and by making it fun to climb people are inclined to go up and down more than once! Click here for the top 10 piano staircases.

The daily commute
One of our Stoke team wrote a nice piece that touched upon this; for James Carnes the daily commute need not be a waste of time, especially when you listen to a podcast which helps you learn or grow in some way. This is one of my favourites, on human psychology – Hidden Brain.

A self-energising gym
Gyms are often packed early mornings and evenings, a lot of sweaty people exerting energy on bikes and rowing machines. But in a number of health clubs around the world they’re also putting that energy to good use, having installed smart machines that convert pedalling and pulling into kilowatts. The savings on electricity might not be vast but it seems like a worthy initiative.

When employees collide
A lot of modern workplaces are now designed to encourage ‘accidental collisions’. It sounds like a bad thing but traditional offices have encouraged silos and hierarchies; people tend to stick to their own kind. In a more strategically designed workplace (where casual collisions occur) you get more encounters with what Malcolm Gladwell (Tipping Point) calls ‘weak ties’ (people with knowledge and perspectives you don’t have).

Soft skills as a win-win
Finally, this very article came out of an initiative we successfully embedded at Poole Dick. We hold regular training sessions where employees present on a non-technical topic of their choice, such as emotional intelligence, delegation, learning from experience or blogging. It’s definitely beyond their comfort zone, but it simultaneously encourages confidence, communication skills, creativity and team bonding.

In a world where we’re all busy, it makes sense to consider a creative approach to getting more things done in the same amount of time – something that’s central to our purpose at Poole Dick.


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