facilities (FM) strategy

Is Facilities Management Strategic?

by jimware on September 21, 2016

office-buildingIs Facilities Management Strategic? What does it mean to be a strategic business resource?

Those questions are crucial to the future of the Facilities Management (FM) profession.

Please contribute to an important conversation and research project addressing the current state of the FM profession by helping to answer those questions. If you are an FM professional I invite you to participate in a brief global online survey about your FM organization and its current role and relationships, as well as your views about current challenges and opportunities for FM leaders.

The survey includes just 15 questions and will take less than 15 minutes of your time. Click here to complete the survey:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RaisingtheBar-2016

This survey represents an important opportunity for you to contribute to a global conversation about the emerging strategic impact of facilities management. If you complete the survey, we will be happy to send you a summary of our findings once the study is completed.

The survey is part of a study sponsored by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). RICS has commissioned Occupiers Journal to update our 2012 report, “Raising the Bar: Enhancing the Strategic Role of FM,” to provide a 2016 view of the state of FM, and analyze trends and developments over the past four years.

The 2012 report can be downloaded for free at this link.

We are also interviewing selected senior FM executives and professionals as part of this project. If you are an FM practitioner who has tackled a strategic project for your organization, we would like to interview you; please contact me directly at my Occupiers Journal email address:  jim.ware@occupiersjournal.com, to volunteer your story.

One more thing: fellow Occupiers Journal director Paul Carder and I will discuss the project and offer preliminary findings at education session 7.03 at World Workplace in San Diego, California, on Friday morning, 7 October. Hope to see you there!

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by @paulcarder (References at footer)

You are probably quite familiar with the term “evidence-based design” (or EBD) as a corporate real estate, FM or workplace professional. In fact, there is a new EBD Journal. You may not have heard of “evidence-based management”, but it is a logical extension of practice started in healthcare, where ‘evidence’ to support decisions is clearly vital, and must be based on science (not just opinion). I’m sure we have all witnessed management decisions seemingly made on the basis of personal choice, politics, or fad. So, bringing sound evidence in to support management decision-making must be a good thing.

Denise M. Rousseau, Ph.D., is the H.J. Heinz II University Professor of Organizational Behavior Management Collaborative at Carnegie Mellon University, and editor of one of a number of books on the subject, including “The Oxford Handbook of Evidence-based Management”.

Denise Rousseau and Eric Barends (2011) applied the principles to human resource management (HR), and open their paper on ‘becoming an evidence-based HR practitioner’ with a useful definition:

Evidence-based HR (EBHR) is a decision-making process combining critical thinking with use of the best
available scientific evidence and business information.

It seems to me that this practice could (and should) be applied to Facilities Management (FM).

Evidence-based FM

There has been much discussion in recent years about the similarities between HR and FM, and the need for the two disciplines to work more closely together in organisations. This lengthy extract from Rousseau & Barends (2011), I believe, could equally have been written about FM:

Managers have diverse disciplinary backgrounds. HR practitioners have no single credential that authorises their expertise, and the occupation is open to those with no degree and those with several. There are no regulatory requirements regarding the education or knowledge an individual must have to become a manager or an HR professional. The HR industry associations SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) and CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) administer examinations to certify member expertise. At present, the SHRM exam is not highly evidence-based, instead supporting industry standard practice. In contrast, CIPD (active in Ireland, Britain and elsewhere in Europe) focuses more on science-based knowledge and aligns with masters’ level university programmes throughout Europe.

If you swapped ‘HR’ for ‘FM’,…’SHRM’ for ‘IFMA’,…and ‘CIPD’ for ‘RICS’ this statement could almost be written about FM. So, what is good for HR could be good for FM.

Example: knowledge-worker productivity

One leading consultancy in the UK, Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA) has been digging into this subject, with their research partners, the Center for Evidence-Based Management (CEBMa). Together, using an evidence-based management approach, they have identified what they call “the 6 factors of knowledge worker productivity” (AWA, 2015). This has been a thorny subject for many years, with a lot of opinions being traded, but often without a scientific approach. AWA and CEBMa have put aside opinion, and reviewed 161 papers, after screening for relevance excluding 102, leaving 59 relevant studies.

(nb., you can read the full process in Barends, Plum & Mawson (2015) listed below. This is part of Eric Barends’ published PhD thesis, and therefore detailed and robust).

Having worked with a few consultancies and service providers in the FM sector, this level of robust analysis of scientific evidence is rare, in my opinion. And could mark the start of a movement towards ‘evidence-based FM’, if the approach was copied by others in the sector.

The team set out to answer the following key questions:

1.What is “knowledge work”?

2.Which of the factors that have an impact on the performance of knowledge workers are most widely studied and what is known of their effect?

3.How do these factors enhance the performance of knowledge workers and how can they be measured? In addition, what are the implications of the findings for management practice?

Reviewers from CEBMa conducted a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) of the available scientific literature and AWA used its knowledge and experience to translate the academic findings into practical guidelines.

Results: practical guidelines

Eric Barends (2015) PhD thesis, Chapter 5, Annex 1 lists the practical measures (in the form of a useful questionnaire) derived from the scientific literature: Measuring the 6 factors

(The level of each factor can be scored as follows: Strongly agree = 5; Somewhat agree = 4; Neither agree or disagree = 3; Somewhat disagree = 2; Strongly disagree = 1. When the aggregate team score is low (e.g. below 3.5), this is a strong indication for low team performance)

When reviewing the 6 factors below, an FM/Workplace manager could useful consider how the physical working environment provided, and the facilities and services in the FM provision, may help to raise the score to 4 or 5. 

Factor 1: Social Cohesion

1.Members of our team like to spend time together outside of work hours

2.Members of our team get along with each other

3.Members of our team would rather get together as a team than go out on their own

4.Members of our team defend each other from criticism by outsiders

5.Members of our team help each other on the job

Factor 2: Perceived supervisory support

1.My supervisor is willing to extend him-or herself in order to help me perform my job the best of my ability

2.My supervisor takes pride in my accomplishments at work

3.My supervisor tries to make my job as interesting as possible

4.The organization values my contribution to its well-being

5.The organization strongly considers my goals and values

6.The organization really cares about my well-being

Factor 3: Information sharing and TMS (transactive memory system)

1.Our team members share their work reports and official documents with other team members.

2.Our team members share their experience or know-how with other team members.

3.Information to make key decisions is freely shared among the members of the team

4.Our team members trust that other members’ knowledge is credible.

5.Our team members are confident of relying on the information that other team members bring to the discussion.

Factor 4: Vision and goal clarity

1.This team has clearly defined goals

2.Our team goals are clear to everyone who works here

3.It is easy to explain the goals of this team to outsiders

4.I have specific, clear goals to aim for in my job

5.If I have more than one goal to accomplish, I know which ones are most important and which are least important.

Factor 5: External communication

1.Our team members use information obtained from external teams everyday

2.Our team is contacted by outside teams for knowledge and information

3.Our team scans the external environment for ideas and solutions

Factor 6: Trust

Horizontal trust

1.Our team members withhold information from each other

2.Our team members withhold information from the management

3.Our team members in general trust each other

Vertical trust

1.The management trusts the team to do their work well

2.The team members can trust the information that comes from the management

3.The management withholds important information from the team members

4.The team members are able to express their views and feelings towards management

Application to FM and Workplace/management

It can be readily seen how the evidence from the almost 60 papers reviewed in detail has delivered these ‘6 factors’ as set out above, and how a consultant or in-house change manager could drop these factors into a spreadsheet tool and create a useful survey tool.

It is less easy to see how an FM/Workplace manager could use these ‘6 factors’ directly. But it does provide a sound list of the factors which affect knowledge worker productivity, working in organisations and teams. However directly applicable, the advantage of this evidence-based approach, above the many lists created by knowledgeable consultants and FM practitioners, is that the ‘6 factors’ above can be traced back to scientific evidence from peer-reviewed academic journals.

Academic partnerships to create new knowledge in FM

What is set out above is a great example of a consultancy partnering with academics, to bring robust academic findings into FM and Workplace practice. It would be good for the developing FM profession to see far more of these academic-practitioner partnerships, which would deliver knowledge into FM practice. There is a large amount of peer-reviewed academic knowledge ‘locked away’ in academic journals which, as AWA and CEBMa have shown, can be collated and transferred into practice.

 

References

Advanced Workplace Associates, AWA (2015) “The 6 factors of knowledge worker productivity” available at: http://www.advanced-workplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/6_Factors_Paper.pdf

Barends, E.G.R., Plum, K., & Mawson, A. (2015). “The Added Value of Rapid Evidence Assessments for Managers and Organizations“; in Barends, E (2015) In Search of Evidence Empirical findings and professional perspectives on evidence-based management, PhD Thesis, VU University of Amsterdam, pp. 93-120. available at http://hdl.handle.net/1871/53248.

Rousseau, D. M. and Barends, E. G. R. (2011), Becoming an evidence-based HR practitioner. Human Resource Management Journal, 21: 221–235 available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227792752_Becoming_an_evidence-based_HR_practitioner

Rousseau, D. M. (2012), The Oxford Handbook of Evidence-based Management, Oxford University Press.

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Development of a teaching ‘case study’: Wallace&Sprocket LLP

(Note: it would be great to receive your feedback – and perhaps, somewhere out there, real-life examples which are similar to this fictional example)

Wallace&Sprocket LLP is a fictional organization in the accountancy and business advisory sector, mainly serving the creative arts, media and film production industries.

Wallace&Sprocket LLP occupied a four-floor office in a CBD, all floors being approximately the same size, and serviced via a reception and lift lobby at one end of the building.

Wallace&Sprocket’s corporate vision for their workplace was to create a high-quality flexible environment which would be attractive to potential employees, and may also retain existing employees. As a professional services firm they had achieved an approximately 50/50 gender balance at most levels of the firm. But, they were finding that more senior women were leaving than men, and the Executive Committee (ExCo) had become almost 80% male.

The Director of Workplace Resources (responsible for property, workplace design and facilities management) had read about how remote working was shown to have increased employee retention. She had reported this to the ExCo and received the go-ahead for a pilot scheme to allow qualified mid-to-senior level staff to work wherever they feel most appropriate on any given day. Junior staff, and those working on professional qualifications, were to be allowed to work remotely when approved by their line manager.

The company’s specific aims were as follows:

  • To improve retention, and attraction of new staff (assessed by HR interview);
  • To improve levels of employee engagement (assessed using a survey tool);
  • To introduce agile working, where space was to be allocated to teams, but not to individuals (except for team co-ordinators, who would have a desk and be focal point for their team);
  • To reduce space used as a result of agile working, but to re-invest savings in the above;

Wallace&Sprocket’s ExCo agreed to follow this 10-step process, as set out below, and to adjust the solution to suit their specific circumstances.

1. Measure:

The first step was to deploy occupancy sensors (see example Sense from Condeco Software) at every existing workstation, and around spaces where people worked such as in meeting rooms. This was done over one weekend, to avoid any disruption to the business. The software was adjusted to measure occupancy at every ‘seat’ at 10 minute intervals (the software does this 24/7, for as long as the sensors are deployed).

A four week period was selected, avoiding national holidays or any events which may affect the analysis.

2. Analyse:

Towards the end of the four week period, analysts began to work with the sensor data, to understand patterns of office space use across the four floors. This analysis showed that average occupancy was 48% across the four week period. This varied by business unit and function across Wallace&Sprocket’s operations.

3. Develop:

Using the analysis, the company’s management were able to develop a workplace strategy and change management process.

The calculations were fairly simple, as an average across all business units (though adjustments were made for some, such as Tax and IT, whose occupancy had been around the 60-70% level).

With 400 people across four floors, on average only 192 desks were being used.

The company therefore decided to re-stack the office space, to move out of the ground floor. The assumption was made that if occupancy levels stayed broadly similar, and 192 desks were being used (average) then the company could cope with 300 desks on three floors (an occupancy rate of around 64%). This could be monitored over time, using the Sense software, to see how well the space coped with any fluctuations in use.

4. Implement:

Over a three month period, the workplace strategy set out above was implemented. The workplace change involved significant training of space users for ‘agile’ working.

This was managed by a third party (workplace consultant) who spent time with each of the business unit Heads, selected a ‘champion’ from each business unit, and held workshops with staff.

All staff were given access to a specially developed website, with a training course module which took them through the stages of moving to an agile working environment. In this way, business unit heads could see how many (and which) employees had completed the course.

5. Realize:

Wallace&Sprocket LLP was able to realize savings, on paper at least. The company was able to reduce space use, by one whole floor (25%), totaling 1200 square metres net internal area (NIA).

At an annual run-rate of approximately £750 per square metre NIA, the saving identified was circa £900,000.

However, at the time that the space was made vacant there appeared to be very limited demand for office space in the local market. So, alternative solutions were required.

6. Dispose:

As far as possible, clearly Wallace&Sprocket aimed to recover the £900k per annum running cost of its ground floor. As the company had taken advice from several real estate agents, and found that demand was almost ‘dead’ for a traditional sub-let, they looked into other options.

The decision was made to keep the ground floor lease until the next lease-break (not for another 5 years), and in the meantime to aim to generate to offset costs.

Wallace&Sprocket approached a leading broker with a brief to look for a serviced office operator prepared to take on the ground floor. Within a month, and still during the re-stack operation, the broker had found a local serviced office operator with two other sites in the area which were almost at capacity.

It was agreed that the serviced office operator would pay £600k per annum, and an additional £200k service charge for shared services provided to the space by Wallace&Sprocket facilities management department.

Wallace&Sprocket was able to therefore recover £800k per annum, to re-invest in its business.

7. Reinvest:

Wallace&Sprocket decided to re-invest 75% of the savings (£600k) into alternative ‘remote’ spaces for its staff to use, closer to where they lived. And also, work with a provider to issue ‘access cards’ to mid-to-senior level staff which they could use to access meeting rooms and workspace on the move.

The serviced office broker was also able to support this programme, through a subsidiary, and manage the card access system for Wallace&Sprocket LLP on behalf of its employees.

8. Train:

Wallace&Sprocket’s Director of Workplace Resources designed and implemented an ongoing training programme, for the following:

  • To train people to use the agile space in the office;
  • To train people to use the alternative remote space (nearer home, or on the move).

This training process is still ongoing (and will be for some time) as people receive regular refresher courses, progress interviews, and training is implemented for new starters.

9. Maintain:

Continuous improvement was always one of the key aims of the Director of Workplace Resources at the start. This involves continuous use of the occupancy sensors and analysis tool, to monitor occupancy (see below), but also ongoing change management.

However, this change management and training is seen as ‘business as usual’ now – the space is continuously ‘tweaked’ to get best value and use from the three remaining floors.

10. Loop back:

Finally, Wallace&Sprocket’s workplace resources team has learned to continuously analyse the occupancy data using the online tools made available by software provider. The company is able to learn, and feedback into further development.

Progress against original project aims

This is ongong, but early signs are that the project has been a success. In the first year after implementation there was significant take-up of the card system for use of alternative remote space. Ad-hoc feedback to senior line managers has been that employees appreciate the trust placed in them to work effectively wherever they deem suitable. Early indications are also that the staff turnover rate has reduced, but this will be monitored over time. The PR impact in the press has also been useful to the HR recruitment team. They have seen a slight increase in applications, and positive comments on interview for jobs at the company, with one reason being the flexible working arrangements.

From a real estate perspective, Wallace&Sprocket LLP now occupy 75% of the space they once did. The organization has re-invested in cards for all employees which allow them to book space remote from the office, often nearer their home. Overall net savings after this investment in remote working have covered the costs of implementation and software licences over a 2 year payback period.

NEXT?

This is a fictional example, based on what we know is starting to happen….have you done it? Do you know of a case study which we might get access to? It would be great to convert this fictional case study into one or more ‘real’ examples.

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By @paulcarderhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/paulcarder

Dear commercial real estate investor, What goes on tour, stays on tour, right? Usually…but I have recently returned from two conferences in the USA, and I feel I have to tell some tales. The first was the Global Workspace Association’s Annual Conference in Florida (@GWAssoc #GWABOCA2014), attended by various sized providers of workspace-as-a-service; mostly hospitality experts and marketers. They are ‘people people’, and I got the feeling that they have their finger firmly on the pulse of what people want from their working day.

The second conference was the International Facility Management Association’s World Workplace 2014 in New Orleans (@IFMA #IFMAWW14), attended by facility / facilities management professionals from around the world. Similarly, I found that many people there really ‘get it’ – that workplaces (offices, especially) are changing. And that change is permanent.

Permanent change…this is the key point really. It is not difficult, in most cities and towns, to drive five minutes from wherever you are, and to find vacant office space. And it will be easy to do so next year…and the year after. And so on. The owners of these vacant office properties may well know something that I do not. If so, I’d love to hear from them. But I just hear occupiers saying they are reducing the size of their office portfolio. And other things are changing too…

One change which was clear to anyone at the GWA conference in Boca Raton – the workspace-as-a-service (WaaS) market is growing. Occupiers (from the sole trader, and small business, through to large global corporations) are experimenting with workplaces leased for short periods of time. Some of the people I spoke with used phrases like “tipping point” and “exponential”. I didn’t take data away with me, but I’m sure it is available and would support these general views.

There are some places, like central London, where you would be forgiven for ignoring these changes. In London, there is a reported shortage of quality available office space. I’m sure that the same is true in other leading global city centres, where corporations will always be looking to attract and retain the best talent. But once you get to the fringes of these cities, or out into the smaller regional cities and towns, the agents (brokers) sign-boards are everywhere.

If I was a commercial property investor, holding tertiary offices, I might be thumbing through the last chapter of my property investment and development textbook. Those diagrams we remember from college, on the ‘property cycle’ – the last stage being redevelopment and/or sale. There just does not seem, to me at least, to be a long-term demand for the soul-less suburban and out-of-town office building. People can (and do) work in so many places today – from home, local ‘hubs’ near home, and many workspaces provided by GWA members. On the days that they do commute to their company office, I’m sure they will prefer a trip into the city HQ – the cool ‘mothership’ where all the money has been spent. But not the boring business park, where the highlight is someone selling sandwiches from the back of a van at 11.30am, and the coffee comes from a jar in the cupboard.

So, my next blog, perhaps “101 uses for a dead office”? All ideas gratefully received (I will quote you, unless you wish to remain anonymous!).

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by Paul Carder@paulcarder

How often has someone said to you, “there is a time and a place…”? In my case, it is usually because I have chosen the wrong time, or place…or both! My card was stamped early: he must read, listen, think, write, and occasionally be mixed with some smart people. And that is broadly what I have done. Never to be a diplomat, nor a senior executive. Relied on to be creative, and to do a good job perhaps; not always relied on to tow the party line (!), nor to suffer fools and time-wasters. I don’t want to spend all my time working; so, short efficient meetings, get decisions made, get stuff done – more time for life. I find it hard to deal with people who go around in circles and can’t make decisions!

The good team leaders I have worked for always know these things. They know how to get the right mix of personalities and skills; and the team members will know their place in that team. Those who have worked through an exercise on Belbin Team Roles as I have (a few times) will understand their place. I am always a Plant!

So, we are all different – OK, and good. Provided that we know! But I’m not always convinced by what I read about GenY (or even GenX – my lot), for the same reasons. I’m a Plant – and my eldest son is almost certainly a Plant! It is not about age, or generation even, but more about the individual. Assumptions can be dangerous. But how does a PLACEMAKER create and manage attractive places for all types of people?

There is a higher level of ‘time and place’. Have you ever considered the bigger picture of life, time and place? I’m convinced that workplace strategists, designers and corporate real estate professionals rarely consider this. Or what is called ‘life course’ research. Giele & Elder (1998: 22) define “life course” as “a sequence of socially defined events and roles that the individual enacts over time”.

Is the time and place of work a life course issue? It certainly changes, for most people, over time. I think it is an issue to be considered, especially as the workforce gets older. What is an attractive place to work when one is 25, is unlikely to have the same appeal at 65 – and far from being retired, many of us (and certainly our children’s generation) will be ‘at work’ in some form well past current retirement ages. Again though, it is not about age per se, and even in writing that last sentence I have made an assumption.

Barristers Chambers would be an interesting case study. A 25-year old or a 75-year old may be equally comfortable in the timeless surroundings of tradition, if they ever wanted to be there. The pleasures of rank and status may keep the ‘old’ lawyer just as content (or more, probably) than the fortunate young lawyer who recently worked hard to get there. They both know that they are part of a fortunate elite, in a club atmosphere.

But let’s face facts – most workplaces have been stripped of all their ‘status’ trappings and benefits. The accountancy and management consulting firms feel very different to the barristers’ chambers. The corner office looking over the river is now a meeting room of course – for use by anyone on a ‘needs’ basis. The long and expensive lunches are few and far between. The older accountants are mostly those whose income quadrupled when they made Partner, and who don’t wish to give that up. Those who haven’t made it, or decided it was not worth it, are opening a bottle at 8pm rather than opening emails in the office….

What will keep people in the corporate, city office, at different stages of life? What will keep them in the company, period? What’s in it for them? Money, perhaps. But many realize, some later than others, that wealth is a multi-faceted thing; not about money. Perhaps they enjoy the buzz, and imparting their knowledge to the younger generation. Maybe (as another increasing trend) they live alone, and/or are bored at home, and the corporate office is their social world. Another increasing trend is for ’empty-nesters’ to trade their cavernous 5-bed detached home in ‘the sticks’ for a bijou apartment in the city. To walk to work, to the restaurant, and the theatre; also happy with the corporate office, for its convenience and conversations.

San Francisco Bay area has certainly seen all this happening, amongst the savvy tech firms especially. The ‘kids’ want to be in downtown San Francisco – a cool place to be. Those with a family need a larger house, and trade the less ‘buzzy’ atmosphere of Palo Alto. But, some return downtown later, when they can afford the high prices attached to an apartment in one of the world’s most sought-after cities. So, there we see times and places to suit – a life course; and every one is different.

I think this may be a fruitful area of research for workplace strategists. So far, I only have anecdotal evidence from my own experience and discussions at workshops and events over the years. But, this will be part of the PLACEMAKER research as we move forwards.

Refs:

Giele, J.Z & Elder, G.H. (Eds.) (1998). Methods of Life Course Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches, Sage Publications

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by Paul Carder@paulcarder

Returning home late in one of my first cars, one of my first girlfriends invited me in for coffee. She filled a huge kettle right to the top, and switched it on. I remember saying, “Are you expecting someone else to join us?” Unaware of my humour (probably our eventual demise), she proceeded to explain how her father had told her that all machines are most efficient when working at full capacity. For once, I kept my mouth shut – there is a time and a place. I think I just smiled and said, “He’s a clever guy, your Dad”, not that I had a clue, and hoping that I would not meet him that evening. Anyway, I doubt that the coffee was important. I discovered it rarely was.

Somewhere, the truth about the efficiency of the kettle had been lost in translation. Like the old World War I story, recounted here by Ben Rooney in the Wall Street Journal:

In the annals of military folklore is the story of the supposed orders being sent by a British unit in World War 1 that was sent as “Send reinforcements, we are going to advance” but received by the headquarters  as “Send Three and Fourpence, we are going to a dance”. And this was in the days before Google Translate.

The real point is, of course, that filling the kettle ‘to the max’ may ensure that the kettle works at maximum efficiency. But, it is not efficient for two cups of coffee. And, if you have little interest in the coffee anyway, it is certainly not effective! Even the sentence is not efficient – “Would you like to come in [stop]” is efficient. “For a coffee” could be replaced….

Is this going somewhere? Maybe. So, coffee is not the biggest issue. When to meet, how to meet, where to meet – we can be more effective. That is a bigger issue.

At the corporate level, imagine the numbers. My friends at Condeco are making inroads into analysis of the efficiency of meeting rooms and related resources. In fact they have been recognized by Gartner for doing so. Some of the world’s largest organisations such as GE, Chevron, Barclays, Unilever and BBC, all use Condeco to book their meeting rooms, desks and resources across the world.

How many very large kettles are there out in the huge corporate world, boiling up for just two cups?

Or, how many very large meeting rooms are there in all those thousands of buildings, being used by two people for a meeting? Any facilities director knows, there are “a lot” (those in the companies listed above, having Condeco reporting tools, will know far more accurately). Worse, “no shows” are the equivalent of boiling the large kettle, then not drinking the coffee anyway! But on a macro and very expensive scale.

As managers of the corporation’s second-largest expense – buildings, space and related resources – we must do more to manage this inefficiency. Much like the question, how often in human interaction does ‘coffee’ mean ‘coffee’? How often does a meeting need a meeting room? Where, and what size? These are decisions with a cost implication.

Coffee often does not mean coffee. Two people boiling a huge kettle is inefficient. And every ‘couple’ meeting in a 20-seat conference room is costing your shareholders.

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One month ago I published this blog post: http://occupiersjournal.com/project-socs-service-operations-case-studies-collaborative-research/

I was super-enthusiastic! A good evening debate at the RICS, where education and development of Facilities Management (FM) was the focus, and had triggered a sudden rush of activity. The blog describes how it all started, and who was involved.

I am still enthusiastic about the concept of developing Harvard-style case studies for our industry – we have to be! The industry needs case studies, desperately….we have very little substantive material to demonstrate how FM contributes to business performance. You can read about the progress of Project SOCS (Service Operations: Case Studies) here: http://lnkd.in/F2HBcy

However, the project is starting to get into the usual ‘inertia treacle’ between the parties in an industry that sadly seems to know the cost of everything, and the value of nothing (a point made in our Raising The Bar report for RICS in November 2012). For so long now, FM companies have grown by going to customers with a “we can save you 10%” proposition….but 15 years ago, that worked. Now, customers have got used to asking FM to cut costs – they expect it.

Go on, just one more cut…it won’t kill the industry (will it?)

Yes, it will. Eventually. You cannot build a market sector that has no marketing other than cost-savings.

What is the FM industry? Perhaps it is currently a Project, not an industry sector. Perhaps it has been a 25-30 year project to rationalize property-related service provision in organisations, and make them lean and efficient. OK, it may have achieved that. So what next?

Does the industry want to sell value-based services to customers at a price that allows them to invest in good people, and grow profitability? It seems not. Or, in fact, it seems the industry just does not know how to do that.

Cinderella had better PR than Facilities Management does!

She must have done. Someone told the ‘customer’ what size her feet were….the rest is history (OK, myth). If that was Facilities Management, the customer would have been told, “Why not forget the glass slipper…we can supply you with these boots, at lower cost”. Not the point.

FM needs to start building a rich picture of all the many ways that FM contributes to business performance. It needs to build these ‘stories’ into solid case studies, that can be used by Business Schools to teach future executives about the business value of FM.

We are ready to source and write 20 case studies, into a 100 page book, by year end….help us to do that?

Someone always needs to stick their head above the parapet, and allow people to take ‘pot shots’. I have; and they will. But, we have a very strong team now confirmed:

Project Management: me + David Emanuel (MD, i-FM.net), Dr. Rob Harris (Ramidus Consulting) and my business partner, Dr Jim Ware (a former Harvard Business School professor and case study expert). More at this link: http://lnkd.in/sDyY-F

UK Steering Group (formally confirmed so far):

  • Kath Fontana             Managing Director, BAM FM
  • Liz Kentish                  BIFM, Deputy Chair
  • Peter McLennan       Course Director, MSc FEM, University College London (UCL)
  • Deborah Rowland    Head of FM Policy & Strategy, Government Property Unit (Cabinet Office)
  • Stephen Shallcroft   Director, Corporate Real Estate, ARCADIS NV (inc. EC Harris LLP)
  • Gareth Tancred         BIFM, Chief Executive

And a clear target ‘check list’ for case studies: http://lnkd.in/9KJx9p

What do we need from you? as soon as possible…..

What we really need now is funding. We can really help to change the FM industry, and start to move towards value-based business services, and away from simple cost-savings.

Service providers need to invest in this project, in our opinion. When we are successful in shifting the focus towards value, not cost-savings, then service providers will become more profitable. We all need the many service providers in our industry to be profitable, over the long-term, to make it possible to invest in people and performance.

Please invest today, and have your brand associated with this leading project; please contact David Emanuel: david@i-fm.net

And please join, and follow the progress of the SOCS project, on our LinkedIn Group: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Project-SOCS-Service-Operations-CASE-5093552/about

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Paul Carder writes:

Sometimes I hear a conversation, or read a tweet, and have to ‘fire some pixels’ at my screen! Maybe someone will read them out there in cyberspace….in (cyber)space nobody hears you scream…!!

Facilities Management is…  Quick answer: can sometimes be (a), should be (b)…and if you are at (c) it is probably due to the organisation and not its FM prowess. Why?

(a) Boring

Before I get a verbal beating from all my Facilities Management (FM) colleagues and friends, I’m not saying FM is “boring”….I am ‘in’ FM, so why would I say that? Boring can simply mean, you don’t want to hear about it; you ‘switch channels’.

So, with that clarification out the way….do you try to talk about FM with business leaders/managers? If you do, unless you are particularly attractive for some other reason (which, of course, some of you are), you’ll see that far-away gaze. Just think about the words leaving your mouth and entering the other party’s ear canal….facilities (last heard at reception: “sir, would you like to use the facilities? – they are just down the corridor, turn left…”). Or “cleaning” perhaps? Or “maintenance”…(starts thinking, I really need to get my boat out of the water and check the hull….eyes glaze….off into another world….”err, sorry…I was just daydreaming then…erm, could you say that again?” Lost….boring!

It’s not you, it’s me…. Not everyone is interested in the same things!

(b) Boarding

If your subject is not on the “Board” agenda (that’s the C-Suite my American friends)…you are just getting ‘on board’ with the Board. Or perhaps “boarding” that vessel that will take you there…to the place where you can talk to business leaders/managers without them drifting off.

If you are “boarding” then you have an invitation (or a ‘ticket to ride’ perhaps). You have said something to someone that has really made them think, and consider how what you said affects their business unit or responsibility.

You may have just started speaking a new language, wittingly or unwittingly – business language.

You may have hit a ‘hot button’ – it may be staff satisfaction, or difficulty with graduate recruitment, or achieving cross-functional collaboration, etc. It’s less likely to be cleaning, or maintenance, or even space planning. But all those things can be in the subconscious mind when considering ways to improve staff satisfaction, or making the workplace more attractive to potential employees.

(c) On [the] Board (or C-Suite)

Most FM leaders are ‘Boarding’ – on and off, as they momentarily attract the attention of senior business leaders, then get forgotten about!

If you are ‘on Board’ (or on ‘the’ Board/ C-Suite) you are in a small minority. If you made it there through FM, that minority is very small indeed. Most FM leaders in large corporate and government organisations are fortunate to get occasionally engaged with the Leadership Team, but do not expect to be ‘called up’ to join the Board.

We are very interested in what gets FM leaders to this level, and we investigated ‘what it means to be strategic’ at some length in our report for the RICS last year, Raising The Bar – enhancing the strategic role of Facilities Management.

My own view is that FM is part of a wider “Service Operations” requirement in most large organisations. You can read more about this, and our #SOCS “Service Operations Case Studies” project on it’s dedicated LinkedIn Group: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Project-SOCS-Service-Operations-CASE-5093552/about

If you are ‘on Board’ it is likely that your ‘core business’ organisation has already recognised that FM has a strategic role – i.e., it makes a difference to the direction of the organisation. That may be due to its customer-facing role (e.g., in retail). Or, it may be due to an understanding that staff satisfaction is a key part of the value-chain to achieve higher business performance. If that is the case, we would especially like to hear from you – you probably have a leading case study for the #SOCS project. Is that you? if so please email: paul.carder@occupiersjournal.com

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Former British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, is widely reported to have said “a week is a long time in politics”. A minute must have seemed a long time for Sabine Lisicki yesterday afternoon in the ladies tennis final at Wimbledon – we felt her pain! For Occupiers Journal, so much has happened in 5 days! It has been a good week for collaboration…

CASE STUDIES – collaboration

Dr. Frank Duffy raised a point at an evening event (more below); we need Harvard-style case studies in our industry. I have heard Frank say this before, and I knew where he was coming from – the Harvard Business Review (HBR) publishes 4-page summaries. These are multi-disciplinary, but written from the viewpoint of one discipline, such as Operations Management or Service Management. The Harvard case-teaching method is more detailed, and used as the basis of business school teaching worldwide. It is a proven method of teaching managers.

Frankly (no pun intended), I just thought the time for talk is over – we must act now. The corporate real estate (property), workplace and facilities management (FM) discipline needs this multi-disciplinary case study approach. And my business partner, Dr. Jim Ware, is an experienced ex-Harvard professor! So, there has never been a better time to push this forward.

SERVICE OPERATIONS: deliberately crossing Operations with Service Management

There is a recognized opportunity for Operations Management to engage in the SERVICE arena and apply this long-established body of knowledge and skills to answer fundamental questions in the areas of service quality, productivity and efficiency, and to apply their expertise in business services and the not-for-profit and voluntary sectors.

Service Operations is a deliberate mash-up! It crosses over between the established fields of Operations Management (generally applied to production efficiency – but equally applicable perhaps to the operating of buildings and engineering systems) and the newer field of Service Management, where perhaps much of facilities management resides.

Project: SOCS (Service Operations CASE STUDIES) is launched!

It is official – it has a LinkedIn Group: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Project-SOCS-Service-Operations-CASE-5093552/about

SOCS (Service Operations CASE STUDIES) is specifically focused on a vital part of Service Operations in any organisation – the buildings (real estate), workplace provision, and facilities management (FM) services. Our aim: to deliver case studies to demonstrate contribution to organisational performance.

When, where and how did this start?

On Monday evening, 1st July 2013, at the RICS in London, the third Facilities Management (FM) evening event was held, organised by John Anderson. I was on the panel discussion, which was expertly chaired by Christopher Hedley, and with the following great people (in no particular order): Liz Kentish (Deputy Chair of BIFM), Kath Fontana, Managing Director of BAM FM (and representing the RICS FM Professional Group), Dr. John Hinks (Global Head of Innovation, CRE&FM, Group Operations at Zurich), and Peter McLennan (Course Director, MSc in F&EM at UCL).

In the audience were many other representatives of FM industry bodies and leading commentators: Johnny Dunford (Global Commercial Director, RICS), Chris Hoar (Chief Executive, FM Association), Dave Wilson, the UK representative for IFMA Foundation, Geoff Prudence (Chair, CIBSE FM Group), Richard Byatt (Communications, Magenta; former Corporate & Public Affairs Director at BIFM), David Emanuel (Managing Director, i-FM.net), and Martin Read (Managing Editor, FM World).

The invited guests covered many of the leading FM clients (occupiers) and service providers from the UK and international market, and many leading consultants, from sole principle to global firms. It is fair to say that the gathering of 80 or so people was a representative cross-section of the UK FM industry.

SOCS: Terms of Reference

The next stage is to bring this project together. We have made a start, and many of the people listed above have already agreed to play a role in this project. In particular, RICS, BIFM and the FM Association are all ‘agreed in principle’. And all the panel (above) have also agreed to represent these bodies, and others, on a Steering Group, chaired by Dr. John Hinks as an independent client (end user).

The majority of our Regional Partners have also responded already, to say that they are very much behind SOCS and will communicate it within their global regions. This will connect us with ABRAFAC, SAFMA, MEFMA, FMA Australia and many others over time!

Further details

contact: Project Co-Director: Paul Carder: paul.carder@occupiersjournal.com or +44(0)7970 406477

or Project Co-Director: Dr Rob Harris, Ramidus Consulting (Occupiers Journal – Regional Partner, UK & Ireland)

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Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to a large group of facilities professionals at the June luncheon meeting of the Houston Chapter of IFMA (International Facilities Management Association).

My topic was “Raising the Bar: Enhancing the Strategic Role of Facilities Management.” That’s the title of a research project that Paul Carder and I led in 2o12 for RICS (The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). We did the research in our respective roles at Occupiers Journal as Managing Director (Paul) and Global Research Director (me).

The presentation was well-received; it addressed four broad questions:

  1. Why isn’t FM a more strategic resource?
  2. What does it mean to be “strategic”?
  3. How are FM groups organized and managed today?
  4. What do FM leaders need to do to become a more valued resource?

And here is the presentation, just posted on Slideshare and downloadable at this link:

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