Workflow with Jonathan McFarlane, Co-founder of PlaceOS

In this edition of Workflow, we have Jonathan McFarlane, Co-founder of PlaceOS, talking about his challenges in developing a work from home routine.

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Describe what you do: My company provides a platform which allows businesses to have smart and connected office spaces. We connect to everything in the building, allowing a seamless user journey from the lobby to the desk and everything in between. This creates a more user friendly and sustainable working environment.

My role is to be the specialist generalist within the company, which basically means that I’m the go-to person for anything related to the PlaceOS technology and how it works. I’m also responsible for the growth of the company.

How do you like your coffee: As soon as possible. If I have an early US call, I’ll make the first one at home – a simple french press with no milk. Clodeli also has the best macadamia milk latte in town and I usually grab one on the way to the office. I unapologetically drink four or five cups of coffee a day.

Device(s) you use: I had a meeting and demo at Google’s head office a couple of years ago and thought it would be rude to present on an iPhone, so I switched to Google Pixel for it – I’ve been on that ever since. The Macbook Pro is my main work machine, but only because I can use the music software, Apple Logic on it.

Describe your working style in one sentence: Throwing as many things up in the air as possible so at least one of them will land, and delegating as much as I can.

What does your workspace look like: Our office is in a big converted warehouse and thanks to our vendor partners like LG and Cisco, we have a lot of technology. A couple of lounge areas, a bar and a workout area.

My desk is actually a bar table with a stool, so I can switch between sitting and standing. There is typically a stack of print outs of articles and reports (I like to highlight); four of five notebooks as I like to draw interface ideas; and I have a guitar and keyboard next to my desk for fun.

How does your workspace affect your creative process: My role is to be creative and space has a huge impact on that. For example, I mostly check my email on my phone in our lounge area (with a coffee of course).

I work on user experience design on an interactive whiteboard in our meeting room. And our best collaboration seems to happen in our bar area. My desk is my least creative place in the office – it’s mostly for writing proposals or crunching numbers, but I try to delegate as much of that as possible.

Prior to COVID-19, I was also travelling a lot – going overseas 7 or 8 times a year and between states every other week. So I was mostly working at airports, cafes and clients’ lobbies. Then all of a sudden I had to stay still and my biggest challenge was developing a working from home habit, which I just couldn’t do. Thankfully, I’m back in the office now and there’s more room to move around and use different types of spaces like I’m used to.

Do you have a favourite playlist for work: If I’m working on productivity tasks my go-to is heavy metal. There is something about the polyrhythms of Opeth and Meshuggah that helps me concentrate. I don’t subject my coworkers to this though – I have a nice pair of noise cancelling headphones.

Who would you like to nominate for the next workflow interview: This has to be my wife Ana Piteira. She runs her own fashion PR agency, OMGFIVE and is the mega star behind 5 brands under Reliquia Collective.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.