WellFest speaker spotlight: Matthew Knight, strategy & innovation partner, foxlark
Matthew Knight is strategy and innovation partner at strategic consultancy foxlark. He works with businesses to look ahead and find ways of making the most of what’s changing in the world. Much of his work is focused on the future of work, building ways of supporting people who work differently, including remote, flexible, and people running their own business. He’s keen to support initiatives which actively consider how workplace wellbeing, no matter of the employment contract, can be designed to support doing better work with happier people.
Matthew also runs Leapers, a community supporting the mental health of the self-employed and those working differently.
At WellFest, Matthew will join the panel discussion ‘Dare to Thrive’ alongside Natasha Devon, Katy Leeson and Simon White.
Here, Matthew discusses the importance of culture, supporting freelancers and why even bad colleagues have helped him to become better.
Why are you taking part in WellFest?
I’ve worked in the creative industries for over 25 years, and NABS has supported me, so I’m glad to give back. Creative professionals are four times more likely to be affected by mental health challenges, and I believe that we all need to take responsibility for the people we work with.
Why do you think workplace wellbeing is important?
Work is the main focus for most of our adult life. If we don’t actively consider how to make our workplaces supportive for our people, we won’t be doing good work, and won’t be taking care of the people who help our businesses exist. It’s not a nice to have.
It’s commercially, creatively and ethically critical.
What are you and/or your organisation doing to promote good wellbeing?
Leapers is a community that supports the increasing number of people who don’t have an employer or a workplace. More than 15% of the UK workforce are self-employed – that’s even higher in the creative industries – and that means large numbers of our colleagues are not getting access to the right kind of support for their mental health, support when working with new teams, or support for their career development. We’re a support group for those of us who work differently. We create tangible resources, tools, guides and techniques to make sure we’re to work well, and we work with organisations to help them work better with us.
Using only three words, describe work.
Listening. Dreaming. Prototyping.
Getting away from your desk. Discuss.
I don’t have a desk. Being a freelancer means finding a different desk every day.
What place does emotion have in decision-making?
It’s essential. Emotions give us a read on how we’re feeling about things. If you remove emotion, you risk the decision not being authentic or meaningful. If it’s only an emotional decision though, you might be reacting rather than considering. Balance is key. But we are not robots. Emotions are a part of who we are and how we thrive.
Are you better at what you do, because you work where you work?
The team you work with has a huge impact on how effective you can be, as does the culture, the environment and mission of the organisation.
I’m better when I work with people who align with my values, when we communicate how we want to work together, and when we share in responsibility of success.
Who was your greatest-ever colleague and why? What about them, if anything, do you bring to your work and team?
There are too many to mention and it’s unfair to single them out. But the best people I’ve worked with have had a huge impact on how I approach work today, and most have become good friends. I’d also say that many bad colleagues have helped me become better, helping me to learn what kind of person I don’t want to be.
Does the reward reflect the work put in?
I don’t work for the reward. I work because I believe there’s an opportunity to do better.
Diverse teams make stronger teams. Discuss.
Inclusive teams make stronger teams. Without ensuring that everyone is welcomed, no team is strong.