We gather people to explore and practice what it means to be human at work.

A Human Workplace Gatherings are two hour events for people who are curious about or ready for a different kind of workplace. Participants get together in a local area or inside an organization monthly for two hours in a specifically human way. At a gathering we meaningfully connect, explore a topic in with others using many formats, practice new human workplace norms and skills, apply insights to work, and meaningfully close. We are discovering how to regain our humanity at work for more satisfaction and better performance - because those two go together! This is a movement to increase love, decrease fear and make workplaces more human-centered.

We teach people all over the world how to host A Human Workplace Gatherings. We provide the approach, tools, coaching, and promotion support to get you started, and your gathering becomes part of a larger community around the world to make work more human.

Why hold A human workplace gathering?

Extensive research demonstrates that human-centered organizations and teams are more effective and productive, and yet our cultural norms defy this way of working. These gatherings are a key strategy to change the conversation, skills, mindsets, expectations, and trajectory of workplaces everywhere. At a gathering we experience subtle but important shifts in how we come together to meet, learn, and work. Join or host a gathering to become part of the essential changes that are happening.

The focus of this work is clear: To shift workplace cultures from fear-based to love-based leadership, teams, and organizations where real value is delivered and improvement happens continually out of care for people. These gatherings are self-organizing and self-generating. AND we provide training and support to get started and sustain your local group.

Read on to learn more, and email us at renee@makeworkmorehuman.com to talk about sponsoring A Human Workplace in your local community or organization.

how did these gatherings begin?

A Human Workplace Olympia, the first gathering, grew organically out of our primary research interviews with 50 individuals into the impacts of fear and love in the workplace. Eight participants who were part of a research workshop had such a great experience together that they wanted to get together again, and so in December 2017, 20 people met in Olympia for the first gathering of A Human Workplace. We’ve been meeting monthly ever since.

The monthly gathering now regularly has 50-80 people each month with about one third new participants each time. The mailing list has grown organically from the 50 original participants to nearly 1,100, with emails being forwarded to whole departments and organizations in both the public and private sector.

WHAT it isn’t: A meeting, training or workshop

It’s been important to be clear about what “it” is and isn’t, and how A Human Workplace is different from other human-focused events. These many other events have their place and purpose, and we are involved in some of these too. And, our approach is unique.

A Human Workplace is not a meeting but you’ll meet people. It’s not a training but you’ll learn. It’s not a workshop but you’ll work on some things.

What it is: A gathering

It is a gathering, a word chosen with great intention, to reflect the focus on inviting people to gather together to create new possibilities at work that aren’t available in the usual meeting, training, or workshop. This means when we gather we are learning and practicing ways to defy deeply ingrained workplace norms in a business setting.

Every local group is self-organizing. State of Washington-led groups in Olympia and Seattle have a state sponsor. Other groups that are forming are hosted by community members or internal organizational sponsors. We ask groups and participants to refrain from promoting an organization or products and services in these gatherings.

We offer this gathering model, tools and guidance to help groups get started, and then each group plans its own gatherings. As a group gains momentum, they tap in to the interests, questions, and skills of the group. Each gathering seeks to embody a positive, respectful, inclusive, whole-person, and human-friendly approach.

What happens at a gathering? 

When we host a gathering, we create time and space for meaningful connection. We cut down significantly the amount of time spent talking at people and “delivering content” from the front of the room and work to infuse “just enough” content (it’s less than you think!) on a topic. Instead we create ample time for reflection and dialogue, practice and application, where the real value occurs. And we always meaningfully close to honor the time we’ve shared and the relationships we’ve experienced.

Each gathering is designed to mindfully attend to the whole person in a workplace setting, though on occasion we venture outside that physical environment. People leave inspired and many take the experience back and engage groups in the workplace using the same approach, questions, and materials to help bring insights into the workplace. This is awesome and the ultimate purpose of A Human Workplace is to bring a shift to our workplace norms, mindsets, and workplace practices.

The Challenge: moving from expert focus to group focus

We are discovering just how difficult it is to shift the time and focus from the front of the room to the group, how strong this cultural norm of expert authority is. So sometimes we find we do this well, and other times we don’t. We are all learning. But we believe an important part of our work is to learn to shift this sense of value to the group and to relationships away from one expert dominating the room. This is much harder than it sounds. We’re discovering just how much our cultural calibration on this is askew, but we are committed to learning and shifting and helping others to learn to do this too.

Norms when we gather

A Human Workplace is a safe place to be yourself, as well as to discover new perspectives and learn. In this context and to support learning and growth, we have adopted these norms from Courageous Conversations About Race Protocol:

  • Stay engaged

  • Speak your truth

  • Embrace discomfort

  • Expect and accept non-closure

Paying attention to Both human needs and business needs

It is important that these gatherings pay attention to both people and business results at the same time, never giving way to only one or the other. It would be easy to drift off and lose ourselves in topics that "feel" good and forget to tie it back to work. But we can't lose sight of our commitments to our professions, our service to others, and our pact with our organizations to deliver business value. We bring each topic back to practical applications for work, for business outcomes, and for customer value.

What are people saying?

People are calling these gatherings groundbreaking and life-changing. They describe finding the time supportive of their day to day work. Participants say they leave refreshed, energized, and inspired.  They call it the best two hours of their month. Participants comment on the unique sense of community, connection, and deep value they take away. The conversations continue with each other as they return to work. They tell us these gatherings are having a profound impact on their work. They go back to working and leading with more respect for team members and more focus on delivering better results for customers. Participants are organically starting internal conversations, team dialogues, lunch and learns, and informal conversations on their coffee breaks focused on making work more human.


I attended my first Olympia gathering in May. I walked through the door and immediately felt genuinely welcomed! It was actually a strange feeling, because I usually feel apprehensive and nervous. I witnessed others as they came in and their eyes would light up and big smiles appeared on their faces. I thought to myself, “What would it feel like to come to work & feel like this everyday?” My involvement in these gatherings has now changed the way I show up at work. I want my coworkers to feel welcomed and cared for when they walk into my office just like I experience at A Human Workplace.
— Lorri from Olympia

Gathering Now…

A Human Workplace Olympia

Join this gathering each month (usually the last Friday from 10 a.m. to 12 noon) in Olympia to explore, discuss, learn and share what it means to make work more human. We usually meet at the Helen Sommers Building, 106 11th Avenue SW, Olympia, WA 98405. Check the Calendar for the latest date, topic, and the link to registration. Or email renee.smith@gov.wa.gov for more information on this local event sponsored by Results Washington. This gathering is open to anyone.

A Human Workplace Seattle

A new gathering is now meeting in Seattle usually on the third Friday morning of the month. Topics they are exploring include love, gratitude, inclusion and diversity. Sign up here to receive information and notice of these local gatherings sponsored by the State of Washington’s Education Ombuds, and hosted by Jeannie Macnab or reach Jeannie at humanworkplaceseattle@gmail.com. This gathering is open to anyone and are listed on the Calendar.

in the works…

A Human Workplace Spokane, San DIego, Washington DC, Barcelona, and??!!

Stay tuned for more information on new gatherings in different locales. Send an email if you'd like to be part of one of these new gatherings!

Want to start a human workplace in your community or organization? 

And if you are inspired to start A Human Workplace in your community or organization, we can help with:

  • Tools, coaching, and guidance to get you started.

  • Promotion of gatherings in our news, calendar, email, and social media.

  • Web space to share stories, photos, links to recordings showcasing your gatherings to inspire others in this community.

Email us at renee@makeworkmorehuman.com to learn what’s special about A Human Workplace Gathering and how you can hold one in your community or inside your organization. 

we are here to help you get started!

We are here to partner with you and provide tools and insights to support your successful gathering, to be part of a community around the world, and to help amplify your stories of making work more human. This growing sense of momentum gives energy and confidence that we are not alone, that we are on the right track, and that change is happening.  

Contact us at renee@makeworkmorehuman.com about bringing A Human Workplace to your community or organization.

Sign up for A Human Workplace email today!