Management Tips

Why is Preventative Maintenance important to keeping your work relevant?

What does that title have to do with being proactive?

Not a damn thing. In fact, the title is nothing more than a way for me to get you to think “What the heck is that guy talking about?”

Did you see the feature image? Go look. Ok, forget it. It suggests something to us about needing some preventative maintenance.

That’s the trick, isn’t it?

Likely not exactly the same thing as being proactive but I look at it this way; by being proactive and applying some preventative maintenance we can certainly improve upon what we do and how we do it.

Am I cracked? No. I AM NOT, my dear friends.

Here’s why.

Preventative maintenance traditionally seems to be reserved mainly for systems; mechanical equipment, elevators, escalators and the like while being proactive is typically based in the behavioural sciences.

Can we combine those and apply both to ourselves?

We are, as humans, a system that needs maintenance (the older we get the more apparent THAT becomes) and we, as humans, have an innate intellectual need to learn, accept, share and act on influence. 

That’s why. Well, am I cracked? You decide.

So, do you have the proactive gene?

It’s kinda small and somewhat undetectable by the naked eye but you can tell if you have it. If you do (and I know you do) then you will inherently understand that being proactive is our ability to anticipate, change and self-initiate behavior in our lives and in our work place (can you tell I stole a definition from somewhere?). We can, if we choose to, anticipate action and take charge of the situations in our lives. Like anything in this life of ours this comes naturally to some and not so naturally to others. I see it all the time; in myself and in the people around me.

Being proactive, by its nature an adjective to an action, requires us to think. You can’t schedule it and stick it on a calendar.

I ensure that our clients can pay us on time by reviewing, managing, correcting and then avoiding billing issues before they arise. That’s me being proactive.

Preventative maintenance, to me, is a planned activity that can be scheduled.

I go to the gym, take some supplements and try to eat right so that I can stay healthy, active and avoid the health issues that would arise if I were to ignore them. That’s my preventative maintenance plan.

Do you work out regularly?

Like I said I go to the gym. More like drag my ass there at least three times a week. Yeah, let me repeat that; DRAG my ass. I am not going to bulls**t anyone here and try to tell you I am some form of perfection.

No way, Jose (that’s hose-eh, for all you Canadians out there).

It’s a necessary evil although I have to say I feel pretty good afterwards and when I was at the gym yesterday I had a chance to read a couple of articles in the March/April issue of CoreNet Global’s: The Leader. For those of you that don’t know it please click here. The context could help.

……crickets……I KNOW, right?


Well, not really.

There were a few articles that discussed the need for a strong workplace strategy; the need for firms or businesses to understand the needs of their workforce, their demographics and their work styles in order to anticipate how their workplace needs to respond to the different attitudes of the 3 generations that exist in the workforce today.

What’s apparent from these articles is that businesses really need to look closely at the declining Boomer workforce and the emerging Millennial workforce to ensure that their office environments are structured in a way to serve the workforce of the future.

It’s a good topic and a relevant one…..if you’re a designer. Or a business owner. Or an employee. Hell, it’s just plain old relevant.

Why would a business build to accommodate its current workforce without thinking about how things might change? They wouldn’t. So, neither should you. Consider that a standard lease or real estate transaction has an average longevity of 10-15 years. How much is your or your client’s workforce going to change in that period of time? A significant change will start to occur sooner than we think even though many Boomers are staying in the workforce longer than anyone expected them to. Are we in a unique period in the knowledge workforce era?

I think so.

When in our history have we had such a palpable transition in workforce that anyone can remember?


We now have Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y working together in the same places and we all know that they work differently. I am not going to debate the differences and try to anticipate their exact needs here. I can’t begin to try to tell you I know the intricacies of each generation; however I work with all three, I can figure s**t out and I am an unlikely bridge between the Boomers and the Millennials which puts me and the other 61 million North American Gen X’ers in a unique position.


Well , anyway, I think I get both sides pretty well.

I know what drives a Boomer (getting a Beamer) and I understand the lifestyle that suits a Millennial (well maybe not but I know where you are at all times). All kidding aside, managing teams in that environment helps me to see how the argument for truly understanding your workforce and not only its demographic is critical to the success of the future of a business specifically from a space and real estate perspective and more importantly from a human resource and productivity perspective.

After all, we are knowledge workers, aren’t we?

So, let me ask you is being proactive critical to making intelligent design decisions? Is informing our clients to address their space considerations important when looking at the emerging trends the knowledge worker will demand in the future?

I think you know the answer to those questions.

We need to inform ourselves to stay relevant and offer relevant solutions. That’s why a little preventative maintenance in your skill set development to catch up on what trends are emerging in your business communities will go a long way to keeping your clients informed. 

It’s proactive.

Staying ahead of the curve is where it’s at.

  • How do you see the workforce of the future changing how we work?
  • How will technology force changes to the office landscape?
  • Will office environments evolve beyond the tangible space constraints we place on them?

About rdopping

interior design guy who loves other stuff; social media, photography, film, food and anything that is good for the growth of the self


6 thoughts on “Why is Preventative Maintenance important to keeping your work relevant?

  1. Ok, I also go to the gym 3-4 times a week and if you are ‘reading’ anything that gives me a pretty good indication of what you are doing. You are ‘that guy’, huh?……………..:). Bravo to you, just showing up is half the battle; that much I do know.

    Our business model is all about being pro-active. The traditional insurance model is about 25% of the time is spent on the placement of insurance; 25% is spent doing the routine stuff like adding a vehicle, issuing a certificate of insurance; and 50% is being reactive, waiting for the phone to ring so you can handle that ’emergency in flight’. We take that 50% and develop a pro-active plan that addresses the threats to their bottom line, and work on a program that minimize their exposure and increase profitability. It’s on paper, we have a timeline to it, and it’s our report card at the end of the year that holds us accountable that we did what we said we would do.

    We also have to be pro-active when it comes to agency planning as well. Our landscape has change quite a bit in the 30 years I have been doing this. You can no longer sit back and wait for things to happen because there are so many threats to our existence.

    Pro-active allows you to take the attack to them instead of being in a defensive, reactionary mode.

    Posted by Bill Dorman (@bdorman264) | April 5, 2012, 11:10
  2. Bill, first off. Thank you for being brave and venturing into this site. You are a testament to fearless social. Your response has taught me a valuable lesson. Be clear!

    I am certain your approach to business is totally viabie and I am assuming since your background is not design that you decided to demonstrate how your firm is proactive in business in your way. That also make you smart and gives me some insight that I didn’t have before. Kudos for that.

    Whe you mention agency planning you are certainly referring to you people assets or at least that’s how I am interpreting that. The question I have for you is “has the office environment for your business or your client’s businesses changed signficantly over the past few years?” Are you seeing a shift in demographics and has that affected the physical space you work in? All indications lead us to believe that space will chnage radically in the next 5-10 years as the workforce shifts anticpated start to take place.


    Posted by rdopping | April 5, 2012, 12:58
    • Absolutely; because of the internet about 20 % of our people are now working ‘remotely’ at least 2-3 days a week. We still have offices but are contemplating more of an open floor, bullpen approach. This helps create energy and ‘buzz’.

      Posted by Bill Dorman (@bdorman264) | April 7, 2012, 07:50
      • Bill, common trend. Depending on the type of work your teams are doing layout and open plan can work for or against their productivity. If you ever need some opinion or help with considering a change to your physical space don’t hesitate to reach out even if it’s an opition on what a local design team proposes to you. Thanks for stopping by.

        Posted by rdopping | April 7, 2012, 07:59
  3. One of the most original articles! Your designs must be unique too! I am a scientist and incidentally, got rejected from Architectural school of my choice and my second choice was Architecture. However, I specialized in the architecture of the cell – yes, our cells have an internal structure, so beautiful, so amazing that I wish all of you architects and designers could see it. When you watch a wounded cell repair itself, how each protein builds brick by protein brick until it reaches the repair site and then in some magic manner “sews up” the wound. It is fascinating. This process changes as we age. So, your maintainance feature is sage advice. Beautifully delivered.

    Posted by pursuenaturalny2008 | April 11, 2012, 23:46
    • Hey there, I took a look at your site, Pursue Natural. Compelling stuff but a little out of my wheelhouse. Clearly you have a passion for science and I really love your analogy to the architecture of a gene. Interesting. It’s is something that I have never considered in practicing in my time but the term biomimicry and it’s premise has been a part of physical design for a long time.

      I find design considers understanding people the least and feel that if design is to remain relevant it’s constituents need to focus on the clear understand of how demographics can affect the development of physical space not only today but in the future. Unlike a cell, it is a challenging process for a physical environment to repair itself to suit outside influence.

      Thank you for your comments and thank you for making me think abut this in a different context. Bravo!

      Posted by rdopping | April 12, 2012, 06:17

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