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UNEARTHING CULTURE AT WORK

 

As a company grows and changes things become automatic and invisible. 

 

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lab@wearefieldwork.com

We bridge the gaps between humans at work

Our work enables companies to work on strategy with clarity and focus, saving time and money whilst really supporting the humans in the workplace. We give companies a clear and objective picture that helps with leadership, internal comms, recruitment, innovation, well-being, induction and the broader short and long term strategy.

Hidden in plain sight

We use an inquisitive process to study the workplace that is based on rigorous research methods. We use photography, interviews and observation to hold up a mirror to the way people live and work. We do this to shed new light on old habits, cultural things that have become ingrained and no longer serve their intended purpose, things that are invisible because they are passed everyday, and things that are automatic. We hold up a mirror so that companies can see the thick detail of their everyday work life that is often hidden in plain sight.

Helping companies notice things

The value is in unearthing all the beliefs, behaviours and values that make up a company's culture. The implication is that once the culture is understood, meaningful choices can be made about what can be done.

If you don’t try to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead.
— Ed Catmull - Pixar

How

Our research is highly versatile, and can provide extremely rich insight into ‘real life’ practice.  Our studies can vary notably in focus – they can be company-wide, or aim at a particular department or small group of people.

The objectives can range from very broad, to gauge culture, to very specific, focusing on particular issues.

We specialise in research and telling stories about what it is like to live and work in a particular company, stories about what people do, bringing people a closer, fresher look at the actual experience of working life.

We've designed a self documentation kit full of mini assignments to help workers see life with beginner's eyes. The kit contains a disposable camera with 27 exposures and an assignment book with 27 prompts to inspire people to find the invisible and automatic in their life.

The data derived from our research is rigorously analysed, drawing connections between different patterns and behaviours observed. The ultimate goal of ethnographic research is to develop an understanding of the meaning of the behaviours, objects, environments, social interactions, beliefs, values, and communications observed.

At the end of our analysis, we deliver a full report detailing the current status of work.

Read more about a recent piece of work for Abel & Cole.

Do one thing well*

At Fieldwork, we listen and observe people at work and we deliver our findings as human stories. That's the crux of what we do. We do this because we know it's hard to see what's going on in your own working life from the inside. We focus on listening and observing because we don't want our judgement to be effected by considering how we can fix things. That way, it's clear when we share our findings with a company that we are not trying to steer them in a particular direction so we can sell them a truckload of happiness workshops or whatever the new training zeitgeist is.

*Inspired by David Hieatt

Our story

Curtis James founded Fieldwork in 2014 after 6 years of helping companies with tactical and practical consultancy with his previous company People Who Do. Curtis came up against resistance with some of this previous work and began to realise this brick wall was connected to culture.

At the same time he had been working on a personal photography project Beyond Work documenting people at work. This project was all about documenting the working lives of people in companies, and he found that some of the things that were being captured offered real insight into the culture of a company. The interesting thing about culture is that it's very difficult to see, especially from the inside, so Curtis's independent beginners eyes enabled him to capture the thick detail of everyday life that was hidden in plain sight to the people that spent everyday at the company. 

Fieldwork takes the experience gained during the People Who Do years, adds the fresh insight and documentation from Beyond Work and brings together a team of experienced ethnographers, business designers, documentary makers and photographers to help companies understand what their culture is and how it affects every choice made.

Watch Curtis talking about Fieldwork and Beyond Work.

Read more about the people involved in Fieldwork.