Working Out Loud - Lessons Learned from Better Workplace Conference

When I learned that I’d be going to my first workplace wellness conference, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Sure, I’d heard my co-workers talk about their adventures at conferences. And I understood the basic premise and goals. However, you really can’t ever be truly prepared until you are immersed in the experience.


Enter the 2016 Better Workplace Conference in beautiful Vancouver, BC. I had lived in Vancouver previously, so it was a bit of a homecoming. Armed with a neon pink t-shirt and CoreHealth Technologies trucker hat, I made my way into the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Admittedly, I stuck out like a sore thumb. Everyone was dressed in their business attire and looked very professional. Fortunately, the opening speaker was the charismatic and inspiring Rick Hansen, the one and only Man in Motion, so there wasn’t much attention on me looking like I’d just left some sort of rave or electric dance club. 

After some heavy applause, a few tears, and a delicious breakfast, it was time to attend the speaking engagements. With coffee flowing through my bloodstream, I was less worried about the strange looks at my attire and started to embrace the chance to talk to people and learn what I could.

I also knew our marketing team expected me to write a blog about the conference. So, I took numerous notes but it didn’t take long to realize I was a bit out of my element. Most of the talks were directed to Human Resources professionals. And while they contained undoubtedly valuable information, they weren’t the sort of topics to resonate with a customer experience guy working for a corporate wellness technology company. Hour-long PowerPoints on “How To Reintroduce Employees To The Workplace After An Extended Absence” just wasn't the sort of topic I was comfortable writing about. I started to get worried about what I would blog about!


Several talks (and copious amounts of coffee later), I wandered into the session “Better You: Improving Collaboration and Effectiveness by Working Out Loud." I immediately felt more of a connection with the speaker, Jonathan Anthony. Dressed a little more casually, with hipster-style glasses, I sensed that this was someone who worked in the technology sector. Perhaps my neon shirt and trucker hat would look a little more acceptable here.

What, you may ask, is Working Out Loud?:

“Observable Work + Narrating Your Work” – Bryce Williams


The definition is simple enough. It’s essentially saying to be transparent with what you’re doing. Make it visible. Share with everyone.

The question I was wondering (and perhaps you are too) is:

“Why should I work out loud?”


One of the immediate benefits I could relate to was reduced email volume. If everyone knows what you’re doing, there’s no need to constantly email each other with questions.

Anthony worked for Yammer (a Microsoft social networking site for businesses) and talked about implementing it in the workplace. By posting what he was doing to the entire staff, he was greatly reducing the need for email volume.


The next question I had was, “Who is going to care what I’m doing?” Again, I was surprised to hear that the audience is bigger than I expected. We often make assumptions that our roles are so specialized, that only those in similar departments would have any interest. Based on Anthony’s experiences, this simply isn’t the case.

To illustrate, he decided to “Work Out Loud” under the stairs. In other words, he started working publicly, underneath a staircase and inviting anyone interested to come to see what he was doing. In fact, he even connected a projector to his computer and displayed his screen on the wall. Here’s a great 7-minute video explaining what it means to Work Out Loud.

As it turned out, people he had never talked to added a lot of value to his work.

“You don’t know what is interesting to whom until you start the process” – Jonathan Anthony

What would you think of making a more social, dynamic, and networked workplace?


For another conference speaker, Lori Casselman (CHO of LEAGUE), it made a huge difference. Her presentation wasn’t on Working Out Loud, but she shared an experience that exactly represented the idea.

Moving from a very corporate environment, where executives were in offices and primarily interacted together, to LEAGUE, was a pretty huge change for Lori. In her new environment, everyone was in one room and shared a long table. Quite literally, the executives were sharing a table with people like the graphics team. Hip-hop music played in the background and everyone co-mingled. This dynamic environment was at least partially responsible for the success they’ve been experiencing.


While I can't capture all the details of Working Out Loud in this blog, if you’re looking to innovate more, create a team dynamic or inspire a culture of collaboration, this might be an avenue worth exploring. The good news, it can start with just one person and isn’t difficult to do. As Jonathan Anthony repeatedly said, “It’s not rocket science.”


Contact John Dyck. He's personally interested in keeping the movement of working out loud going. His day job is the Account Manager at CoreHealth and an expert on CoreHealth's corporate wellness platform used by wellness providers around the globe.


CoreHealth Technologies Inc. is the leading corporate wellness platform trusted by more than 1000 organizations, ranging from medium-sized businesses to Fortune 500 enterprises. At CoreHealth, we believe that developing the best employee wellness programs is all about giving wellness companies the right code, design and access to the latest innovations. With the most customization, integrations and reliability of any software in its class, CoreHealth’s powerful platform lets users focus on growing great companies. For more information, explore the CoreHealth website