Improving the office environment will improve performance


A study has shown that the indoor office environment can have a significant impact on cognitive performance. Those working in a green building compared to a conventional office building had 61% higher cognitive function. A result to encourage businesses to investigate ways to go green in the office.


Research suggests that even small changes can have an impact on performance.

Consider introducing plants to your office space, in one study, employees were 15% more productive when working in a 'green' office. 

A green office appeared to provide a boost to employee engagement, concentration levels and perceived air quality all showing a rise after the introduction of plants into the office.





How Do We Build Resilience?

By Justin Palazzo-Orr

More and more organisations are finding the need for resilience development programs for their staff. What is resilience? Who can be resilient? How do we develop resilience?


What is resilience?

The Oxford dictionary describes resilience as ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.’[i] You can think of resilience like a fruit tree’s ability to blossom and fruit after a long winter.


Who has the capacity to be resilient?

The truth is, if you are reading this, you are already resilient. You have had the resilience to get through all of the challenges that life has thrown at you to this point. We all have the capacity to be resilient and to build on our existing resilience.


How do we build our resilience?  

Thinking about our fruit tree mentioned earlier there are a few steps to developing resilience.

The first step is knowing that winter is coming. Just as winter comes every year, challenging times are inevitable, and that’s ok. The most resilient people are those who expect and adapt to change and challenging times. In their book Great by Choice, Jim Collins and Morten Hansen use the term “productive paranoia.”[ii] The idea of being productively paranoid is to be prepared for challenging times and balancing that preparedness with being a fully functioning individual.


Ensure our fruit tree is well fed, watered and has some slow release fertiliser. Be sure to use the good times to build up your internal and external resources. There are a variety of resources which can help you get through challenging times. One of the most commonly suggested is building up your social networks. Build an orchard around you to help you get through the winter.


The next important step is the pruning. Ridding our lives of branches which are not going to contribute to supporting us through the winter, flower in spring, or fruit in summer means we save our valuable resources for those which will. The pruning phase can create discomfort but has the double advantage of providing us with more resources to face challenging times and, being a challenging event itself, will add to our resilience.  


Now you are prepared, you’ve built up your resources and stripped away parts of your life which will work against you, you are ready for winter. The first step in making it through the winter is remembering that it will pass. The mantra ‘this too shall pass’ is not just a cliché but a helpful fact to remember. Each day you get through is one day closer to spring. The next step is to tap into the resources you have built up in the good times. Use as many resources as you need to, but as few as you can get away with.


Once winter has passed, take the time to reflect on the challenge you have just made it through. Think about a challenging time which you have been through. How did you contribute to successfully making it through the challenge? Resilient people tend to take ownership of their own good fortune.[iii]


Just as the seasons come and go, so do our challenges. After we have made it through one challenge, and we have taken the time to reflect on it, we need to replenish our resources and begin to prepare for next winter.


APRG offers tailored Resilience Development Programs which can be delivered over a full day or as a series of workshops.

If you have any questions or concerns relating to your mental health, you should discuss them with your health professional.

Please call 07 3231 6500 to speak with Justin about the APRG Resilience Program and how you can strengthen your orchard.



[i] (Oxford University Press, 2018)

[ii] (Collins & Hansen, 2011)

[iii] (Seligman, 2006)

Team Development


Stages of Team Development

I am sure you are all familiar with Tuckman’s theory of team development. It is a well-discussed and applied theory about the states of team development first published in 1965.

Getting a group of people to work together isn’t always an easy task but is important for success. The Australian workplace culture especially, is very team orientated, focusing on the collective efforts and working together to achieve an outcome.

Understanding team dynamics and the team development process is important for leaders and managers.  Tuckman’s theory suggests that every team goes through four distinct stages of development.  He believed (as is a common belief today) that these stages are inevitable for a team to grow to the point where they are functioning effectively together and delivering high quality results.

Here is an overview of the stages and what the team might look like as they progress through each stage:

Stage 1: Forming

The "forming" stage takes place when the team first meets each other.  You may have had a team shuffle, be welcoming new team members or forming a new team.  Team members are introduced to each other, share information about themselves and start to form first impressions of each other. They learn about the team they are in or joining and the objectives and goals as well as starting to build and understanding of what their role will be within the team and how they contribute to the overall success and key deliverables.

During this initial stage of team growth, it is important for the team leader to be very clear about their expectations, including team and individual KPIs and how the team contribute to the bigger picture.  The team is dependent on the team leader to guide them. For more information on setting expectations read our September blog:

Stage 2: Storming

As the team begins to work together, they move into the "storming" stage. This stage is not avoidable; every team - most especially a new team who have never worked together before - goes through this part of team development.  In this stage, the team members challenge each other as they work to understand how they fit into the team, working to gain acceptance of their ideas and skills.  It can cause conflict as they have different opinions and want to share their expertise and experiences and why their ideas should be accepted.  It’s a tussle for authority, trust and belief in the individuals experience and expertise. 

As the team goes through this, the guidance and support from the leader is important.  The leader’s role here is to set the boundaries and coach and support; establishing the platform for the team to allow them to explore and learn how they will solve problems and function together as a team.  It is the leader’s responsibility to ensure that this is done in a positive and professional manner that provides support and opportunity for the team.  This can be a difficult stage for the team to go through and requires hands on coaching and support from the leader.

This stage will come to a close when the team becomes more accepting of each other and learns how to work together to achieve objectives. At this point, the team leader should start transitioning some decision making to the team to allow them more independence, but still remain involved to coach, guide and manage any conflicts or issues that arise. The leader’s role is critical through this stage and successfully guiding the team through this phase will set them up for success.

Stage 3: Norming

When the team moves into the "norming" stage, they are beginning to work more effectively as a team.  The team have developed a way of working together that respects each other's opinions and value their differences. They begin to see the value in those differences. Working together as a team seems more natural. The team members begin to actively seek each other out for assistance and input as they work towards a common goal. The team leader supports the team members to work collaboratively, sharing skills and strengthening the depth of the team.

Stage 4: Performing

In the "performing" stage, teams are functioning at a very high level. The focus is on reaching the objectives and goals as a group. The team members have gotten to know each other, trust each other and rely on each other. They know their individual contributions and how to utilise the strength and experience of their peers.

Not every team makes it to this level of team growth.  For a leader, this is a significant win and now the team require a leader that is strong in their own beliefs and contributions.  For an insecure leader, this strength and success of the team can become threatening as the team is identifying problems and solutions independent of the leader.

For the secure leader, they will recognise this as a significant testament to the work they have done to build the team and will encourage the team to continue working and continue to invest in the people to grow and support them as they achieve new heights.  

The team is highly motivated to get the job done. They can make decisions and problem solve quickly and effectively. When they disagree, the team members can work through it and come to consensus without interrupting progress.  In this stage, the team leader isn’t required to be involved in decision making, problem solving or other such activities involving the day-to-day work of the team. The team members work effectively as a group and do not need the oversight that is required at the other stages.

It’s important to note that even in this stage, there is a possibility that the team may revert back to another stage. For example, the team may revert back to the "forming" stage if a new member joins the team.  Significant change can also revert the team back to an earlier stage until they are able to manage through the change.

Is the team effective or not?

On top of the stages and pinpointing the team through these, there are various indicators of whether a team is working effectively together as a group. An effective team looks like this:

  • Clear communication among all members

  • Regular brainstorming session with all members participating

  • Consensus among team members

  • Problem solving done by the group

  • Regular team meetings are effective and inclusive

  • Positive, supportive working relationships among all team members

Teams that are not working effectively together will display the following:

  • Team members work alone, rarely sharing information and offering assistance

  • Team members blame others for what goes wrong, no one accepts responsibility

  • Team members do not support others in the team

The team leader needs to take fast affirmative action to address issues and work with the team directing them to a more effective way of working together.

Strong leaders will take ownership for the success of their team, demonstrating trusting behaviours, setting clear expectations and working with the team members to understand the contribution to the overall goals. 

A team joined together on the “Why” will find success organically and deliver above and beyond expectations.

National Safe Work Month

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Safe Work Month is held each year in October and is a national event that encourages all working Queenslanders to get involved in safety at their workplace; helping to reduce incidents of death, injury and disease.

The majority of working Queenslanders head off to work, complete their day and then head back home maybe a little tired or dirty, but safe. Tragically though, around 17 Queenslanders die each year as a result of traumatic workplace incidents, and over 5000 suffer a permanent injury.

These deaths and injuries carry with them a devastating impact on workers and their families, colleagues and the broader Queensland community. Safe Work Month is the perfect time to remind people how they can continue to make Queensland workplaces safer.


There are a number of resources that can be found online at the Worksafe Qld website and we encourage all businesses to take time out to better understand their workplace risks and what can be done to minimise these. Follow this link:

Know Your Responsibilities

For the People and Culture Managers, the key to supporting the employees and minimising risk is to first have a good awareness of your Workplace Health & Safety responsibilities.

Through the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, the Australian Government produced a comprehensive policy outlining the health and safety responsibility of the employer and the employee.  

Office Workers

For many of us who work in an office, the hazards in our workplace might not be as obvious as those in high risk work environments, such as building sites and mines, but there are a range of factors with health and safety implications for office workers.  

Key risks in the office workplace can include:

  1. Ergonomics

As office-based work is one of the fastest growing forms of employment, it is important to recognise issues that may affect the health, safety and well-being of people working in offices. Ergonomics is the study of workplace equipment design or how to arrange and design devices, machines, or work space so that people and things interact safely and efficiently. 

Employers are increasingly aware of the importance of ergonomics in offices, particularly in relation to the use of computers and other screen-based equipment. The potential for occupational overuse injuries is the main area of concern.  Regular ergonomic checks are important in the prevention of such injuries. 

Office ergonomics can help you be more comfortable at work, lower stress, and reduce injuries caused by awkward positions and repetitive tasks. A workstation will be ergonomically acceptable if the alignment of the computer screen, keyboard, person and chair are comfortable and convenient for the worker, requiring no twisting of the head or body.

Read more here:

2. Sedentary Tasks

Office works tends to involve prolonged periods of sitting, which can pose significant risks to workers’ health.

(i)Did you know the people who sit for 11 hours or more a day are 40 per cent more at risk of death than those who sit for less than four hours?

There are a number of preventative measures that are encouraged to reduce this risk. Frequent short breaks from sitting, using the stairs instead of the lift as well as stretching at work can help employees to minimise their risk of injury.

See Comcare's Sedentary Work web page for more guidance.

3. Other environmental factors

Untidy offices with excess equipment, materials in boxes or piles on the floor creates a trip hazard.  This could indicate that there is insufficient storage space, insufficient time for storing materials, or just poor management of the work area.

Additionally, cluttered work areas can be a risk especially if the material and clutter is obstructing safe exists from the workplace.
Electric cables across passageways, mats, slippery surfaces (especially in foyers) and storage that requires workers to use step ladders or reach above shoulder height can all raise the risk of people slipping, tripping and falling.

Serious injuries can be sustained as a result of these office risks. Managers should be encouraged to regularly review the environment to identify any potential risks and remedy the situation before an event or injury occurs.

Workplace safety is everyone’s responsibility. By working together and building awareness, we can reduce the potential risk of injury to our employees and colleagues.

(i)Van der Ploegg, H, Chey, T, Korda, R.J, Banks, E and Bauman, A 2012, 'Sitting Time and All-Cause Mortality Risk in 222 497 Australian Adults', Archives of Internal Medicine, 172(6), pp.494-500. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.2174  (Sedentary Work)

From Conference to the Workplace

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How to maintain momentum and meaningful change

Picture this: you’ve been to a work conference or event and have returned having learnt some great things. You’re refreshed and eager to help others, and want to share the new thoughts, processes and general feelings of renewed motivation you’ve acquired. 

Unfortunately, most of the time it’s not as easy as shouting from a rooftop, and this is often where people will come unstuck. Many of us are collaborators, so look to others to form bonds that in turn help that momentum. We want to share our discoveries in the hope that it keeps the fire going.

Looking for ideas to help you to keep momentum post-conference? Here are five ways to harness your energy and momentum in a positive way.

1.   Know your WHY

First and foremost, it is important for you to understand your ‘Why’. As well as for yourself, you want to develop your story for others to share in.

It’s not enough to say to someone “I went to this conference and it was amazing”. To engage and encourage a conversation, you need to be specific. What people want to know and what will engage them is hidden around the WHY. Why was it amazing? What in particular inspired you, that might also inspire them in turn?

One of our peers returned recently from a conference, and their enthusiasm and descriptions had our team talking and challenging each other.

“One of my highlights was the guest speaker in the first session, Tim Lawless ...have you heard of him? He gave such an in-depth overview of the market and current trends and broke it down by segment. He challenged my thinking on where we are investing our energy and resources. I think we could be doing more with the same resources..”

We loved this WHY because it gave specifics. It helped its audience to understand what they may have taken out of the conference themselves, or what they might gain from hearing these key points in person. It helped them understand the benefits that the attendee got from their investment in going.

2.   Document your action plan

Before you leave the conference; draft an action plan. What specifically do you want to do differently, implement, change or stop as a result of what you have learnt?

Develop some milestones for yourself. What will the end of week 1, week 8 and week 12 look like? How will you know that you are successful? What does this look like? Be specific.

3.   Identify barriers

Accept that there will be barriers. Think through how you are going to overcome them.  There will be challenges and changes in priorities, some you will be able to control and others you won’t.  Identifying these possible roadblocks beforehand and how you will overcome them will go a long way to keeping you on track when your day or week becomes derailed. 

4.   Share your plan

Work with someone at the conference to share your action plan and agree to support each other to hold accountability.  Schedule a time to catch up after the conference to review the action plan, talk through challenges and share any success stories.  

In addition to someone who attended the conference, consider sharing your plan with someone who wasn’t at the conference, but is engaged in your development and growth.  In most cases, this person would likely be your manager.  Schedule time to talk them through your WHY from the conference, take them through your action plan including what you believe success will look like. 

5.   Make time to reflect

Finally, make time to reflect.  Reflection turns your experience into genuine learning. Re-read any materials you have, as well as any notes you took.

Review your action plan and identify if there is anything you could be doing differently to help you to achieve your plan.

Take the time to make new notes include what you have applied or learnt since the event. Is there anything outside the event that has happened that has complemented your learning or helped you to develop further?

When you reflect and see all the sources of your learning as a web of connected experiences as opposed to siloed learnings, you build and understand your capabilities holistically and will be making sustainable change.



Anzac Day 2018

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On the morning of 25 April 1915, the Anzacs set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The objective was to capture Constantinople (now known as Istanbul), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, and an ally of Germany.

As Anzacs landed on Gallipoli they were met with fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. The Anzacs quickly realised that their plan to knock Turkey out of the war was not going to be as easy as first thought, and the campaign turned into an eight-month battle.

At the end of 1915, the allied forces were evacuated. Both sides suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers were killed.

The 25th of April has become a day when Australians remember the sacrifice of those who fought and died in the war.

As the bugle player sounds the finals cords of the “Last Post” the emotions are sorrow and gratitude

Sorrow for the lives lost and the families left behind to hear the news of lost loved ones. Gratitude for these men and women and their families that made a sacrifice so big that the impact is still known today.

It’s a time to reflect on all the past, and present soldiers and their families who have given so much so that we may have a life many aren’t afforded.

I am grateful that we came to work this morning in a war free country, a free country where I can choose my profession and am free to work. Grateful for my freedom of speech and the voice they gave us all those years ago.

The choice to come to work and to choose your occupation is a privilege.  I consider my opportunity to work with APRG a privilege. I am in a position where I connect with people every day to help them to have meaningful working lives and work with meaningful businesses. I have chosen to participate in work that makes the future brighter for others and that gives me incredible satisfaction.

Thank you to the past and present for paving a way that allows me to do what I love in a safe environment.


Lest We Forget

How To Get Home Earlier Today and Every Day

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Task management skills are crucial for effective people (and therefore effective teams).  It is the effectiveness of what you do in each hour of your day, not the number of hours you do that determines the results you and your team accomplish.

The number one excuse for not getting something done or feeling stressed, anxious and overworked both professionally and personally is not having enough time.

If the number one excuse is a lack of time and we all have the same 24 hours, 1440 minutes, or 86400 seconds in a single day, how is it that some people can get so much more done in much less time?

They do this not through managing time but in managing themselves in relation to time; in other words, effective and highly efficient task management. 

Effective task management requires commitment and consistent effort. That being said, some small changes can have huge benefits. For example, if you can convert just ten minutes of wasted time per day to productive work, you gain back almost an hour of productivity in your week and an additional week of productivity in your year. If you can convert 45 minutes of wasted time a day to productive work, you gain almost four hours of additional productivity a week.  That’s half a work day!

And if you think you don’t have time to focus on task management then consider this; mastering your tasks will allow you to better control your workload and functionality even under intense pressure liberating you from much of the stress and overwhelm plaguing your work day.


1.      Create A Daily To Do List. Start with a weekly plan at the beginning of the week identifying what needs to be done this week to ensure you are on track towards meeting your goals. Break your weekly plan down into daily tasks.  Before you leave for the day, write out your daily task list for the next day. Build this list based on what you didn’t get done today that needs to be carried over and completed tomorrow and what needs to be done to ensure you reach your weekly goals.  And schedule your least favourite task first to get it out of the way. (see 5)


2.      Set Priorities - Priorities are often based on a deadline or who is yelling the loudest. Schedule deadlines for important tasks and break them down to ensure they get done and are not overtaken by urgent tasks. Prioritise your task list with a simple A, B and C and allocate your activity to spend 70% of your day on priority As, 20% on priority Bs and 10% on priority Cs.


3.      Develop Effective Scheduling Habits - Schedule your day based around what you need to get done.  You have as much control over your time as you exert.  Leave your time open-ended, and you will consume it with low-value activities.  Put a time frame on your work activities, and you will be surprised how quickly you begin to get things done. For example, a primary time waster is giving attention to email as it arrives. Schedule time at both the beginning and end of the day to read and respond to email. Have an automatic reply set up to advise your email hours and if it is business critical then to call you.


4.      Manage Distractions - As things come in during the day use the 4 Ds

Do It

If it can be done in less than 5 minutes then it fits the ‘one touch rule’ so do it now

Dump It

If it doesn’t require your attention or is not worthy of your time i.e. tasks that you are being advised about as a ‘keep in the loop’ let it go

Defer it

Schedule a time and space for it then put it out of your mind

Delegate it

Especially if it’s not your responsibility but ask for a note that it has been completed especially if it is part of a larger body of work for which you are responsible.


5.      Stop Procrastinating - Make a list of all those things you are currently procrastinating about so they are out in the open and can no longer be ignored. Prioritise in order of how much you don’t want to do the task and put the one you don’t want to do on your daily To Do list as a Priority A and then do it. Once one is out of the way, you’ll feel better equipped to deal with the rest. Aim to complete one of your procrastination tasks every month.


6.      Learn To Say No - Say no to time wasters such as meetings that are not critical for you to attend. Meetings that are called at the last minute, meetings with no agenda, those with no designated meeting place arranged, have a vague topic or a simple subject matter that could be resolved by email are most likely a waste of your valuable time and are best avoided.


7.      Take Breaks – a break will allow you to refresh, recharge and refocus making you significantly more productive. We were not designed to work at optimum levels without a break. Scientific studies have shown productivity drops over time if we force concentration. Go for a short walk in the sun and grab some water or lunch, you’ll be better for it.


Focusing on better task management will make your day more productive, but more importantly it will free you to wave goodbye to the office that bit earlier. And getting home at 5pm instead of 7pm means more time doing those things you’d rather be doing with those you’d rather be doing them with.

How To Make 2018 Your Best Year Yet

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"The secret to getting ahead is getting started".

- Mark Twain, author

January 1st heralded the beginning of a brand new year and a new beginning where we turned from what was and prepared to lean into what could be. There will be many who reflected on 2017 and immediately put it behind them as yet another year of dreams unfulfilled and goals not realised. There are others who basked in the success of a spectacular year breathing in the heady scent of achievement wrapped in an aura of fame, gain and accomplishment.

Which one are you?

New year’s eve has come and gone and, if the Huffington Post is to be believed, 92% of new year’s resolutions will already have fallen by the wayside.

That doesn’t mean you can’t hit the reset button and still fulfil the promise to yourself that 2018 will be different. And it can be when you unleash the power of goal setting to help make this Year your best year.

What will make 2018 outstanding for you?

Deciding what it is you actually want can be the hardest part of goal setting simply because we let the ‘hows’ get in the way of the ‘whats’. Too often we can’t see how something can be achieved so we put what we want to one side as being unachievable.

To get clear on what you want, imagine for a moment that you have in your possession, a magic wand.  If you were to wave a magic wand and everything was exactly as you want it to be on 31st December 2018, how would it be? What would you be seeing, hearing, feeling, experiencing in your perfect world?

What will it take for your life to be fearlessly easier, better and more fulfilling?

Write this down in as much detail as possible. This is your plan for 2018.

To enjoy a balanced approach to life, experiencing success across the board, set goals in all areas of your life; three goals per area is ideal although there is no limit, set as many as works for you.

Key life areas:

1.       Finance

2.       Career

3.       Family

4.       Health and Well-being

5.       Relationships

6.       Personal Growth

7.       Home Environment

8.       Community Contribution

Meaningful goals are SMART goals; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

The more specific you are with your goals the greater the chance you will achieve your desired outcomes. For example, a goal to have more money is too vague. If I hand you $5, you now have more money. Was that what you wanted? No? Having an additional $25K in your bank account tomorrow may be measurable but not perhaps achievable or realistic. The more clearly defined the goal, the better.

Specific:   What it is you want? Why it is important? Why do you want it? Is anyone else involved and if so, who? What requirements and constraints, if any, apply? 

Measurable:   How will you know when you have achieved it? 

Actions:   What are the steps required to achieve your goal? Make the steps small and easy. 

Realistic:   What will you need to do/learn/find out to achieve each step? Is your goal aligned with where you are headed in life?

Timely:   When? Set a deadline for the completion of your goal and to celebrate. This will keep you motivated and moving.

It’s very liberating to make the decision to live life on your terms, take charge of your direction and step boldly forward to make your life whatever you want it to be.

If you want to do something different in 2018, then make it this. Decide what you want, set the goals to get you there and then take massive action.

The future is yours.