Bruce Barclay 2018-01-25 04:36:40
UNIFYING BUSINESS, FM AND TECHNOLOGYY AS “ONE TEAM” Change is one of the fundamental laws of nature; it is what drives evolution. Humans are living in an era of unfathomable change. No longer are there great paradigm moments of epic change, but now there are innumerable, micro-changes happening at an exponential rate. Change is surreptitiously, irrevocably altering ecosystems and causing economic, political and social revolution. And nowhere is change on the personal level more evident than in the work environment. Digital technologies have allowed us to work whenever and wherever we want. Alongside technological change, management structures are changing — getting flatter, more autonomous and leaner — leading to an increase in the outsourcing of skill-specific expertise. There is a departure from traditional organizational structure which blurs how teams are formed and structured. The pursuit, development and retention of talent required to succeed in this environment has become one of the biggest business imperatives. The culture of an organization — its brand and brand values — are now key criteria in attracting and retaining top talent. Brand, culture and values are increasingly being epitomized in the workplace, including how it’s designed, structured and managed, the services that are provided, and the environment that’s created as a result. That means businesses are radically rethinking their HR and workplace experience strategies to align more closely with these new, evolving set of business drivers. OUTPUT FOCUSED The physical workspace required for the talent of the future must be completely re-thought, redesigned and maybe even relocated. The focus must be on output, or how a workplace engages its people and helps them be at be at their most productive. The low level of productivity worldwide is a chronic problem. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reported in 2017 that the global economy is still below the four percent average growth rate between 1987 and 20071. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports2 that U.S. worker productivity declined by 0.6 percent in the first quarter of 2017. Productivity is anaemic and getting progressively worse, so the Confederation for British Industry in the UK called for a productivity boost to be the number one priority for business and the government, and the OECD added that only by investing in organizational infrastructure can the productivity puzzle be solved. While economic imbalances, political unsettlement, geographic distribution and skills shortages are often blamed for low levels of productivity, the physical workplace must also take some blame. The Stoddart Review3, a not-for-profit initiative formed to raise awareness among business leaders of the importance of the workplace as a key performance lever, revealed that a good workplace can improve business productivity by as much as 3.5 percent. Economist and former BBC Newsnight economics correspondent, Duncan Weldon, cites in the report that this could add almost Åí70 billion to national output. Small rises in workplace productivity could therefore contribute to boosting global GDP. A report from Harvard Business Review4 argued the most transformational thing a company can do for its workforce is “to invest in creating working environments that unleash intrinsic inspiration.” An inspired employee is more than twice as productive as a satisfied employee5 and more than three times as productive as a dissatisfied employee. Yet, only one in eight employees is inspired. Creating an engaging work environment, the report argues, requires holistically addressing the factors that drive employee inspiration. This includes more autonomy and agility as well as inspirational leadership. There’s also the need to focus on practical measures. Statistics from the Leesman Index6, the world’s largest independent database on workplace effectiveness, reveal that just 58.2 percent of the 250,000 employees surveyed around the world agree that the design of their workplace enables them to work productively. This means just under half of all workers find their workplace inhibits them from doing their job effectively. Only 51.5 percent say they are proud to bring visitors to their workplace. Ambient temperature, noise levels, natural light and good air quality are cited as occupiers’ key productivity aids, but those are also most lacking in today’s workplaces. In addition, the lack of a variety of spaces to work, depending on the activity being undertaken, is also an issue. Research from JLL7 demonstrates that engaged employees add 147 percent to business value through higher performance. The research shows that higher levels of employee engagement not only improve the bottom line through increased customer satisfaction and enhanced productivity, but also lower unproductive elements that are a drain on business performance, such as absenteeism or employee turnover. Currently, perceived productivity is the closest we can come to measure productivity in the work environment8. If people believe an environment allows them to be productive, then the chances are they are more productive. But many organisations are going a step further. A team at Nokia developed a mathematical model based on pre- and post-occupancy statistics which revealed not only that workplace design and employee satisfaction impacted perceived productivity levels, but that an increase in perceived productivity correlated to an overall improvement in business output9. Two universities — Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and vSUNY Upstate Medical University — are supporting a global study to examine how the indoor environments of 100 office buildings impact employee productivity and health. This builds on previous studies which showed a doubling of cognitive test scores when participants worked in a setting optimised for indoor environmental quality. This type of activity will only increase in the future workplace. Organizations will want to see a clear return on their investment in the workplace through increased business performance. NATURE OF WORK Over the past two decades, the nature of work has changed. This resulted in organizations allowing people to work from home, both to reduce commute and improve work/life balance. The employer benefitted from reduced real estate cost and improved motivation and productivity. Now, many are promoting a balance between time in and out of the office as there’s a recognition that competitive advantage is largely about innovation, and that usually comes about through face-to-face collaboration. Innovators and creative thinkers need to come together, and that collaboration tends to happen in the office. Therefore, the workplace of the future will be, for most knowledge workers, a hub where people go to collaborate when needed. As a result, there’s a resurgence in the importance of the workplace experience in attracting and retaining talent. At the same time, this is challenging for real estate and facility professionals. The FM team must have real engagement with the business to understand its utilization dynamics. CHANGING DYNAMICS Better work-life balance is often cited as the reason people enjoy working at home, as it is typically the control they have over their own environment which makes them feel more productive. Studies by the University of Exeter’s School of Psychology10 revealed employees who have control over the layout of their workspace are not only happier and healthier — they’re also up to 32 percent more productive. The research challenges the conventional approach taken by most companies, where managers often create a “lean” working environment that reflects a standardized corporate identity. What this means for the workplace is workers should be consulted over changes to their office, and they must have the ability to personalize their working environment. This need not be through personal photos and cuddly toys, as in previous decades, but through the ability to choose the right space for the type of work they are undertaking. Providing a variety of spaces to work also helps to dispel the issues around temperature, noise, light, and air quality as people can choose an environment which suits their needs. A NEW FM In response to this business landscape, the contribution of real estate and facility professionals will elevate. There is a growing urgency to evolve the FM position to stay relevant. New skills are required, based on business enablement through vision, values and strategy alignment, to become a more strategic partner to business. To do that with credibility, facility management must reinvent its value proposition and present its case in business-relevant language. There must be an end to turf wars between business support functions: real estate, FM, HR and IT — and the start of a deep collaboration to support the business, drive change and enable the workplace to transform and deliver tomorrow’s business objectives. The Stoddart Review called for the FM, real estate, HR and IT teams to work much more closely together to support the core business and this vision must be achieved. In addition, FM service providers must think more innovatively not just about the product and service they are delivering to clients, but how they are delivering them. This could involve competitive service partners forging strategic alliances to deliver exceptional service. New partnerships and business models with similar-minded or complementary providers can set the agenda for a new way of working that shares best practice, knowledge and experience in an open and collaborative way. This “One Team” approach delivers results, as was seen in a recent award-winning program undertaken by Dell EMC. Over a three-year program, a group of internal stakeholders and service providers became a One Team Real Estate and Facilities business family working together in EMEA. Harnessing technology and using the information they already had, but in a different way, produced the edge they were looking for. The benefits were significant and immediate. An increasingly close relationship between FM and IT will also help to boost workplace productivity. Research from Sungard9 reveals that 69 percent of workers feel the right digital tools help them do their job better. There is also a link between recruitment and retention of talent and IT. Just over a third of employees would leave their organization if offered a job at a more digitally-progressive business and 51 percent believe that career progression is faster at digitally progressive companies. In the same way that technology is a driver of business change, it can also be the platform for thinking differently. FMs are custodians of essential data and the advent of the Internet of Things will only speed up that transformation. The first few pilot case studies of the impact that a smart, connected building can have on occupier performance are beginning to appear. In the future, the workplace environment will be based very much on strong, reliable statistics demonstrating the most productive and effective conditions. The evidence is already there. By working together to collect, mine and analyze critical data, real estate and FM will maneuver into position to accelerate change, not just support it. FM is at a critical moment. An inflection point that offers a unique business opportunity. It is there to be grasped, if we have a confidence to grasp it. Bruce Barclay is a facilities professional who most recently worked for Dell Technologies. His international career in business leadership and development includes 20 years at senior management level for organisations in a variety of business sectors from financial services to hospitality. In addition to running his own businesses in property development and telecoms, he is an experienced international speaker and author of the British Institute of Facilities Management’s Good Practice Guide to Managing FM Teams Across Borders. Bruce has won the EuroFM Partners Across Borders award. He is a member of IFMA, CoreNet Global, the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM), and past member of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE).
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