Five minutes with… award winning journalist Helen Parton

As a workplace communications specialist, Magenta thought it fitting to gauge the views of an architecture and interiors journalist with over 15 years’ experience, who specialises in writing about how design can make people happier and more productive at work.

We’ve spoken to Helen Parton, former editor of OnOffice and co-author of Total Office Design, to find out what might be next for the world of work.

What is it like to be a journalist reporting on a crisis while living through a crisis? 
“It’s definitely not dull! When I read sensationalist stories particularly in the national press and I trace back how the journalist has done it and why they’ve done it (mostly for clicks), it does imbue me with a sense of responsibility to report in a way that is sensitive to the nation’s collective mental health, which let’s face it is not great at the moment. On a personal level, it can be overwhelming and hard to motivate oneself sometimes, but there’s no shortage of angles to cover, particularly in the realm of workplace.”

How can workplace leaders contribute to the back-to-work / future of work conversation in a meaningful way moving forward? 
“Think about whether you need comment at all. Are you really moving the conversation forward or just posting for likes and raising your profile? Unless you’ve got a point or angle that you’ve haven’t seen covered much elsewhere maybe it’s time to take a step back and pause. And maybe spend some valuable time thinking about your organisation’s future and checking in with how your people are feeling. I’m sure they’d appreciate that more than yet another ‘future of the office’ post.”

There’s a lot of content out there about the future of work. What does it take to cut through the noise and tell the stories that matter?
“You have to look at people’s motivation for what they’re saying really. Everyone has a vested interest so it’s about reflecting on why this individual is pointing towards that solution as being the silver bullet for the future of work. Taking in as broad a range of voices as possible in terms of discipline and geographical location is key too. It’s easy to get wrapped up in being too UK-centric but our situation is far from unique. This is a global pandemic after all!”

What do you think is next for the workplace world? 
“I don’t want to add to the chatter overmuch but I would say that I think the next few months are going to be a make or break time in terms of the return to the office. If a large proportion of schools do reopen in September, I think for huge swathes of parents it will be a time for a fresh look at how they want to work in the long term. I’m hopeful most people will want to go back in some way, shape or form, we just need to work out how.”

To find out more and to pick Helen’s brains for yourself, join Magenta for a virtual “in conversation with…” on Wednesday 19 August 2020 at 11am. Register for free here and join us for a cuppa and a chat.

Watch all Magenta webinars here.

Jo Sutherland