facilities management

The (not far) Away Day (part 5)

by Paul Carder on May 25, 2017

by @paulcarder

If you have been following the story so far, several managers are congregated in their corporate training facility, “to discuss what successful Workplace Management means to the Group Companies, who should lead it forward, and how”. It is the evening before the Away Day, and they have met variously in the bar, or passing through to their rooms. We have met Frankie (HR), Sam (FM), Jules (CRE), and Charlie (IT Strategy). As is often the case in large organisations, FM reports into CRE; Sam reports to Jules. But, nobody really knows how the plot is unfolding. Mostly because the HR Director, unusually, has called this Away Day, “so we actually talk to each other, and share information and experiences”. Why HR?

Frankie is meeting the HR Director, Rosh, in a nearby restaurant.

“I bumped into some colleagues from Real Estate in the bar” says Frankie, as they take their table. “There is some…well, intrigue, I guess you could say. They kinda think Workplace Management is their bag…wondering why HR is heading this Away Day”.

Rosh comes back quickly, with a slight air of excitement, “Yes, I’m sure there is! Intrigue, indeed. What do you think?” Rosh is a great mentor – teacher, even. To Frankie, it feels less a ‘manager-subordinate’ relationship than one of a post-grad and professor.

Frankie replies, “Well, I know that collaboration is the goal. Not just out there with our business partners and suppliers, but here, across the support functions. I know that the boss wants to get rid of ‘stove-pipes’, and to get all of the functions facing one direction…and I guess that means all fully aligned with each of the business units”.

Rosh smiles, looking up from the menu, “Yeah, pretty much. The new CEO wants us to give staff every tool they need to perform at their best achievable level. Think sports analogies. Firstly, we want people fit and well, in body and mind….as far as practicable, of course! So, ‘wellness’ will be mentioned a lot. Secondly, we will ensure that everyone in the organisation goes through a review of their skills, and is offered training, or sponsorship on courses where required. We do a lot of that anyway, but it will be pushed harder. And thirdly, the ‘places’ we want people to work from will support them fully”.  

“We have made a good start on the first two”, said Frankie, “but, what is our role, as HR, in ‘places’? That’s Corporate Real Estate, and FM. Are you saying….”

“Yes, I’m saying that will be part of my new remit” smiled Rosh, “We will all be on a steep learning curve.”

Frankie looked a little surprised, “I could ask a lot of questions…why? how?” she smiled. A confused smile.

“Don’t worry. We’re not actually going to be ‘doing’ the CRE stuff”, Rosh replied, “But, this is going to be an organizational transformation. It will not be comfortable, for many of the support functions. Selling it to staff in the right way is going to be critical. Hence, our experience of large change management projects will be what is needed right now.”

Frankie was not convinced, yet at least, “I get that…but how are we going to effectively lead a function like CRE, that we have little knowledge of?” 

“Ah, you under-estimate what you know!” replied Rosh, laying the menu down, “think about it. One of our key goals is employee attraction…and retention. We’re in a competitive market. Unemployment in our sector is virtually zero. Everyone is offering similar…good…salaries and benefits. What can we do to differentiate ourselves, as an employer of choice?”

Frankie grinned, “Well you’ve kinda given that away …its ‘Places’, obviously …but I still can’t quite see how?”

“OK”, Rosh continued, “well, the CEO’s view is that the ‘places’ we ask people to work from are one of the last areas of effective ’employee benefit’…if, as we think is true…people decide to join us…or stay with us…because the experience of working in our places is better than they would get elsewhere. And we should know, as we measure this. But we need to do more, to understand why, and how we can continuously improve. And that is what we manage, and how we brief and guide the Workplace Managers.”

“I get it…I like it” said Frankie, “it is more the strategy and targets that we lead from. We don’t do the technical stuff…CRE does that…but we make sure that what they do is fully aligned with our ‘people’ strategies”.

“Exactly. And you are now part of the new People & Place function”, Rosh smiled, “HR is no more. The CEO hates the term…People!!…we employ people!! ..not Human Resources.”

“What do you think of the menu?” Rosh asked.

Frankie wasn’t sure how to answer. The dinner menu? Or the menu for tomorrow’s Away Day. Dinner was going to go down far better, she thought.   

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by @paulcarder

I’m in reflective mood. On #WorldFMDay, I thought I should reflect on my affection for, and criticism of, Facilities (or Facility) Management. It is merely one person’s perspective. But it may provide a viewpoint, perhaps useful (or not) for the younger professionals joining our sector. There are some great, varied, and sometimes well-paid careers ahead for people who pick up the education and variety of skills needed in today’s FM market.

And to keep my friends happy, I’ll take the widest definition of FM that you may find! It is different in almost every organisation, and only limited by what one chooses to add to the FM portfolio. And the confidence shown in FM by the leadership of that organisation. That confidence is in the people who lead, manage and deliver FM – and there are some great leaders, managers and ‘do-ers’ around the world. It is a truly global sector.

People often fall into FM …today, it could be a career of choice. And should be.

I didn’t “fall into” FM, as many did a couple of decades ago (today, young people coming into FM can justifiably see it as a career of choice – it wasn’t in the early 1990s). I read about it, and saw it as a new and interesting sector. It wasn’t an FM practitioner who brought me into FM, but an architect and academic, Dr. Frank Duffy CBE, past President of the RIBA. More importantly, Frank was co-founder of DEGW, arguably the first workplace consultancy (see Reading University’s DEGW Archive for further information on this incredible firm). I was lucky enough to work right in the core of his international office, a desk or two away from Frank, Colin Cave (CEO), Professor John Worthington (when he was in :), and to sap up knowledge like a sponge for a year or so.

But I wasn’t an architect, designer, planner or social scientist (of which, DEGW had many greats over the years). I was a graduate Building Surveyor (“a what, sorry?” they said, in Germany or the USA, where I first travelled with the DEGW Workplace Forum). At the time, FM was being defined (it had been in existence for around a decade, publicly at least), and what I was reading was more about “workplace” than FM. That is what appealed – the whole workplace, and its contribution to organisations. A long way from surveying (and still is today, one could argue).

The Total Workplace….FM and organisations

I had Frank Becker’s 1990 book, “The Total Workplace – Facilities Management and the Elastic Organization”. Duffy and Becker were good friends, and I was fortunate to meet and talk with Prof. Becker on a couple of occasions.

I left DEGW, to join Symonds FM, in the office of another great FM thinker, and London Business School MBA, Oliver Jones (a far more successful businessman than the academics at DEGW had unfortunately been). Then I was offered my first company car 🙂 and more money in 1996, to join Procord (an IBM management buy-out of the property and FM department – one of the first large and successful ventures of its kind).

Procord (later Johnson Controls Integrated FM… much later GWS – Global Workplace Solutions …and recently acquired by CBRE) was a “total workplace” provider. And again, I was fortunate enough to get to work with top minds like Barry Varcoe (who later went on to run CRE & FM at Royal Bank of Scotland, and Zurich Financial…and is now an academic at Oxford University! If you’re in FM, you can get to Oxford…! (but only if you have a brain like Barry’s).

Occupiers …it all comes together ‘client side’

It was only really when I had my ‘baptism of fire’ at Barclays Bank in 1999-2003 that I learned the fundamentals of how all the areas of property, capital projects, policy, planning and facilities management came together. And that all of it is led by the occupier organisation – in this case, a large High Street bank. It was all very structured and orderly, and I found it hard going for at least a year. A great team of people, led by another first class mind in Peter Jones (now an MD at G4S) and working alongside someone I learned a lot from, Debi Rowland, now a Director at Sodexo.

10 years… half in consulting/supply-side… half with an occupier, client-side

I think that would be my recommendation for anyone coming into FM …and I would recommend anyone to join FM (though I have argued elsewhere, it is becoming “Workplace Management”…that’s for another day!). There are two sides to FM, and both are vital. Supply-side, working for an FM service provider or consultancy, provides a commercial understanding, and often leading practices. And client-side, working in an occupier team, for only one client…you are the client…provides a true understanding of how FM (and all its peer-group support functions) work together. And how they work with the ‘core’ front-line customer-facing units.

That was appreciation…now onto criticism 🙂 constructive, and necessary

I have not used the word profession above. I have mentioned ‘market sector’, or ‘management discipline’. And for good reason, I think – FM is not there yet. Not unlike many sectors which are only 20-30 years old, the FM sector has not done enough to become a profession…yet. And I’m not, here at least, getting into the issue of whether FM becomes “Chartered” or not (that is a British institutional thing, which albeit now global, is not the only way to become a profession). I don’t have space here to do this subject justice, but made a start in a 2013 blog.

FM needs three things to happen:

  1. the pursuit of excellence. And self-criticism, openly and honestly, with the aim of achieving perfection. Like a surgeon – not slapping themselves on that back and saying ‘how great we are’, but rather, analyzing what could be improved. And being constructively critical of what is wrong with FM.
  2. more continuous learning – and sharing that learning. That means a desire to research, to collaborate, to publish learning for the benefit of other professionals, for the benefit of the profession as a whole, and its customers.
  3. FM must consider society, and the environment (human and natural) as its customers – not just the organisations that pay directly for its services.

As I said in the 2013 blog article, there is hope for FM to become a true profession if we focus on these things:

FM has a promising professional career ahead, making a difference to society, by lifting the human spirit through people’s surroundings and a passion for service. And making a difference to the environment, by providing facilities that do as little damage to the planet as possible, and also give people the opportunity to ‘work, rest and play’ with less need to consume resources for travel.

So, I join into the spirit of #WorldFMDay – we all need to celebrate our successes. And I thank all those of you I have met along the way, over 20+ years, some mentioned above, but many more not. And I hope that, after the celebrations are over for another year, we can all focus on more reflection, self-criticism, research and learning – that will be the route to the true profession of facilities management.

Take care all.

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The (not far) Away Day (part 2)

by Paul Carder on May 8, 2017

by @paulcarder (with contributions from @therealsulim)

If you have read the story so far, in Part 1, three managers met at the bar of a corporate training centre. Frankie (from HR), Sam (from FM – Facilities Management), and Jules (from CRE – Corporate Real Estate). There has been some usual banter, but underlying that, is a plot unfolding? The HR Director has called this Away Day, which has surprised Sam and Jules. Apparently, “so we actually talk to each other, and share information and experiences”. They are not convinced.

Back at the bar….

Frankie has left, for dinner with the HR Director. Sam asks, “So what do you think, Jules? Is this an HR Away Day, with invitees from other Group Functions? Or, is something else going on?”

Jules went off to boarding school at the age of seven, so politics and intrigue come naturally. With a degree from a leading University, and ten years with a commercial real estate firm, Jules fell into CRE when a client offered the chance to move across to their in-house team.

“Definitely something more than just an HR Away Day” Jules replies, “Its not just CRE and FM being invited – I saw Charlie, Head of IT Strategy, in the car park. Procurement are here too. It looks like someone is trying to bring us all together. I guess we’ll find out in the morning!”

Sam nodded, leaving a silence to see if Jules would say more. It was unlikely. Jules was the deal-maker, a collector of information from all sources, but disseminated very little. It was the way of the broker. Information is power. But the rules of the game were clearly changing. Collaboration was the new game, and Jules was having some difficulty with it.

“You always have your ear to the ground, Jules” said Sam, smiling. “How’s progress with the search for the new HQ?” Sam wasn’t convinced that the firm needed to move, and was even less convinced by the buildings being considered. But more worrying for Sam was the limited input FM had so far been able to gain.

Jules took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, “Well, the size of floor-plate we are looking for is scarce. There are developments in the pipeline, but not much choice if we want to move in the next year or so”.

Sam gave Jules a raised eyebrow, “I hope its more ‘or so’ than ‘next year’ Jules. We have three years on the existing lease. There is a whole programme of work to do before moving – staff engagement, comms, workplace design, mock-ups, furniture…not to mention the move planning itself.”

Sam could feel the tension rising, but stayed the ever-cool, unflappable Hotel Manager. Almost two decades in large hotel groups around the world had trained Sam to work with anyone. Many people had felt the difference when Sam took over FM a couple of years ago. Heads of Business Units had fed back up the line. Marketing loved Sam, as visiting customers and VIPs had commented on the great ‘atmosphere’ and slick management of corporate events.

But Jules held the CRE purse strings, and had the ear of the Finance Director. Sam was poised to jump across to another function, and get out from under CRE, if only the chance arose. Jules knows that. If Sam was able to get FM under HR, then a big part of Jules’ power base would vanish.

Jules brushed off Sam’s concerns, “We have time. There will be at least a year after we sign up, and we haven’t found anywhere suitable yet. But our current landlord has indicated that they may redevelop if we exit, and may accept an early lease break. That could mean a saving – our current lease was signed at the top of the market”.

Sam knew there was little point arguing. If there was an identified saving, it would be in Jules’ performance review! Sam could expect a myopic focus on Jules’ bonus until that was in the bag! And that would be true of the Finance Director too. But what if a case could be made, convincingly, to move FM under HR & Organizational Development?

Sam was convinced that the physical workplace, design and services, was all just part of the employee package. It’s what a staff member expects, working for one of the Group companies. Maybe the new CEO had seen this too? Maybe that’s why the HR Director had been tasked with bringing all the support functions together?

Jules left the bar to catch up on emails, whilst Sam ordered another beer. Tomorrow may be the start of something.

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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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HR > Finance > CRE > FM

by Paul Carder on July 22, 2016

by @paulcarder

This is a simple post. It is intended to cause a good-natured argument amongst professionals.

I’m more interested in how things are achieved, by whom, than perhaps by the end result. Take workplace transformation as an example. I’m not an architect or interior designer. Pictures of cool new spaces don’t especially interest me. I gave up sitting in ball pools when my children grew out of them. Like my good friend Mark Eltringham, I agree that “the reality is that for the majority of people, the office of the future will be a sober and nuanced evolution of the office of the present“. People like to feel that they are being treated well, their comfort and happiness is somewhat important to their employer, and they see money being spent on their new environment. But trends, fads, gimmicks and aesthetics are very personal – one will never please everyone, so I take little interest.

What really interests me (and many of my colleagues in the OJL network) is how organisations cascade their strategic aims to the various “workplace” professionals in their team. And how that team organizes itself to deliver spaces and services which are aligned and support the organization’s goals.

In the past (vague, I know… lets say, 10-15 years ago +), we all talked about the Finance Director (or CFO), and what she wanted to achieve. Buildings, and fleets of buildings (real estate portfolios) were, and still are of course, a significant expense to most organizations. Cost reduction was king, and therefore the CFO was the focus. Corporate Real Estate (CRE) grew out of the 1980’s onwards, and became the lead function in managing real estate. Facilities Management (FM) was operational, and mostly reported into CRE.

Of course, the CFO’s office is still involved, especially in large capital programmes. But the fat on the bone of real estate portfolios has largely been well trimmed in many (most?) organizations. CRE leaders have realized that tinkering with FM costs is the proverbial water in the wind. The larger cost savings come via portfolio rationalization (as do energy savings, by default). Much of that has been done too. What’s left is ‘fine tuning’ of buildings, to operate as closely to the ideal of the efficient factory (sweating the assets) or the efficiency of the airport, with people coming and going, checking in and checking out, throughout every day. Hot desking – or at least, fairly warm!

In the present, the focus has shifted to the Human Resources function (CHRO, if you must). Especially now that the economy in many regions has slowly dragged itself out of the deep financial malaise we all felt since 2008/9. Organizations are moving from survival mode, back to competing. And competing for ‘talent’ is once again a hot topic. As is getting the most out of people and resources (productivity) once an organization has successfully recruited people.

HR has grown in strength and influence (imho), and in many cases has become more strategic and future-oriented than it was in the past. Tools such as ’employee engagement metrics’ provide hard data (there is literature supporting, and criticizing, most employee engagement efforts – but there is no denying it is everywhere). People are expensive, and if we know what makes them ‘tick’ then HR can drive transformations in many areas of the organization. Workplace is one area. It is believed (at long last) to make a difference to how people work.

So HR is currently greater than Finance,

…Finance is greater than CRE (Workplace still has to stick to financial constraints of course),

…and CRE is greater than FM.

HR > Finance > CRE > FM

For now, at least.

FM is still operational. This twitter discussion this afternoon convinced me of that. Once again. I don’t see much change from the picture Jim Ware and I painted in the RICS-sponsored “Raising The Bar” (RTB) reports we delivered in 2012 and 2014.

We are starting work now on the third RTB study, thanks to RICS continued support. So if you violently disagree with what I have written above, do please comment below. Or email me, or Jim. We would love to hear from you.

paul.carder@occupiersjournal.com

or jim.ware@occupiersjournal.com

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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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Try the 4-4-2 fortnight

by Paul Carder on January 8, 2016

by @paulcarder

This has nothing to do with football (soccer). That’s lost a few people who found this via Google search!

I have mentioned this a few times in presentations and various seminars, but realized that I have not actually written it down. So here goes…

Very simple: 4 days a fortnight in “the office” (provided by your employer; where you are probably “based”), 2 days a fortnight working at home, and 4 days a fortnight in some “third place”. The latter is what really interests me. “Third places” can be a whole variety of places, some specifically designed and marketed for working at, and others used for working and a mixture of other activities.

The 4-4-2 fortnight seems to me to be a proxy for what is happening amongst corporate-employed knowledge workers. The numbers will vary, over different weeks, but I’d like to bet that there are many professionals, managers, sales staff and others who are pretty much doing this right now.

There are some roles (not many) which are stuck at 10-0-0. They are at their contractual ‘place of work’ every day. They have no chance to work from home, or anywhere else. Those of us who are fortunate to have the flexibility to manage our own diary, travel, and work in a variety of places, we rely on the “anchor” go-to people on 10-0-0 fortnights. We all rely on Karen in my cluster at UWE Bristol, as we know Karen is in the office, and generally knows what is going on. We have a large team, no secretaries (remember them?) but one very good Exec PA, Karen.

There are home-based workers who, let’s say, come into the office once a week, and are therefore at 2-0-8. So, for 8 days in the fortnight they do not use the corporate office, do not need a desk, and in return do not suffer the commute in and out of wherever. Their commute is lengthened only by walking the children to school, or stopping off to buy a coffee. No trains, planes and automobiles for them…most days anyway.

For a great short film (<5 mins) see Two Lives by WorkplaceTV on YouTube. It is a funny, but absolutely correct, interpretation of two work days – one commuting, the other working at home.

Where is everyone else on this simple spectrum?

Some people don’t like working from home, for a variety of reasons (they get bored, lonely, feel disconnected, worried their work will not be recognized, etc.). For some, therefore, the 10-0-0 is a preference. I had that situation for about one year, when my company moved offices out of London and only six miles from my house. For once, I was ‘in’ nearly every day, and never worked from home. Others just like the routine, or even the ‘time-out’ on their commute. I have a friend who commutes 1.5 hours each way, every day, to and from London. He reads a lot of books! He wouldn’t change that. He loves the ‘buzz’ of London, and his office (where he gets up to all sorts of mischief) but he wouldn’t live in London. So he enjoys reading a lot.

NearDesk – “a million people working near home one day per week”

I share the vision of Tom Ball, CEO and founder of Neardesk.com, to get “a million people working near home one day per week”. Or more, perhaps?

For many people, working at home is either not an option (“home” is too small, or shared, or busy/noisy) or not a preferred option, for the reasons stated above. But neither is commuting ‘preferable’, for reasons of time, stress, cost, or environmental consciousness (which is only going to increase, with commitments made by world leaders in Paris recently).

Working near home could be a win-win for all parties: employers, governments and the working population.

Tom’s vision could be described as 8-2-0. Or, 8 days a fortnight in the corporate office, and 2 days working nearer to home. Then there are many people for whom one day a week at home is fine – not too isolating or boring. Then we get to 6-2-2. And so it goes on… all permutations are possible!

Try the 4-4-2 fortnight, and do let us know how it went!

Try it with your team.

Sit down with the team and explain the idea. Tell them they can work at home. Or at some “third place” (companies like Near Desk can provide many options, and issue cards to your team members which allow them to be charged for the time they use).

What is your team average before you start? Doubt it is 10-0-0. Most teams have someone working occasionally at home, or somewhere else.

The challenge is to get the first number in the sequence down from 10! 8-1-1 may be an initial target? That equates to one day a fortnight at home, and one day a fortnight in a third-place. Across a team, some people may work at home, and some in a third-place, once a week…the number comes out the same of course.

I wonder who will get to 4-4-2 first. Whoever does, depending on distance (!) I will gladly come to your office with chilled champagne…albeit, you will not all be ‘in’ the office 🙂

Paul

paul.carder@occupiersjournal.com

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A sojourn into biology, rewards, and place

by Paul Carder on January 2, 2016

by @paulcarder

For the time-poor, here: The memory of the great place where you went, replays (fast) whilst you sleep, and is stimulating the memory of what you learned. So avoid crap places/spaces if you want people to remember stuff…. OK, that’s lost a few people… a poor life this, if full of care, we have no time…

For the benefit of the reader who may wish to follow this little diversion into ‘real science’, I will provide a routemap via Google Scholar (which, in itself, if you have not used it, is an absolute treasure trove). So…in Google Scholar, click on “advanced search” (a drop down menu), and in the first box labelled “with all of the words” type the two words reward and place.

[why? – because I have been researching whether ‘place'(s) etc., corporate space, has been linked to HR compensation and rewards. i.e., does anyone actually think about place as a “benefit” to employees. Then I went off on this tangent… I urge you to do this too… regularly].

So, alongside the text “where my words occur” make sure you toggle to “in the title of the article”. Today, it gave me 75 articles …by the time you try this, there may be more.

Next, alongside the text “without the words” type in the words dopamine, drug, foods and “conditioned place preference” (we’ll come back to that term in a later blog!). And search again…now you may be down to about 33 articles. I have listed just the one paper referenced in this blog, at the footer below.

What comes next is truly fascinating! Real hard science about the link (mostly in poor old rats, but hey…) between place and reward. Not our usual social science, based on opinion, discussion, surveys (which I love, and practice, as I was put off statistics at a young age) – no, the study of brain activity by biologists!

First on the list is Lansink et al (2009) who introduce their paper with this familiar feeling:

Thinking back to an exciting event often includes the scene in which the event took place. Associations between specific places and emotional events are consolidated in memory, but how this is achieved is currently unknown.

Their research took a step further. In discussing brain activity, they demonstrate that “a combination of spatial and emotional aspects of a learning experience is replayed in the hippocampus and the ventral striatum during sleep, which is likely to contribute to the consolidation and strengthening of memory traces”. In layman’s terms, my interpretation, the hippocampus is associated with spacial awareness (or ‘place’), and the ventral striatum is associated with emotion. What Lansink and colleagues discovered was that, during sleep, memories of a place can (and do) stimulate other memories, and consolidate these memories (Memory Consolidation Theory):

  …the hippocampus initiates and orchestrates replay in connected brain areas. In addition, sleep replay occurs at a time scale about ten times faster than during the actual experience, which makes it a mechanism suitable for strengthening synaptic connections associating place with reward

Put simply, say you go to a really great place – a stimulating environment – then you are engaged in some activity in which you learn (perhaps a presentation, or even just a discussion amongst peers… a meeting). Then you go home, later you sleep. Your brain double-taps like Special Ops! It fires the ‘place’ memory, quickly followed by the ’emotion’. And the sleep replay is on ‘fast-forward’ x 10. The memory of the place where you went, is stimulating the memory of what you learned.

How does this make you feel about your next team away-day? Maybe you’ll persuade the boss that it really is worth spending a bit more money (or just being creative, perhaps) in finding a great place to meet up.

….but not that “Training Room” with no windows, in the basement….your hippocampus will not talk to your ventral striatum if you go down there! And you’ll all forget whatever Rupert from Group Legal took half a day out from his golf practice to tell you about.

As a corporate placemaker, you know that place matters. So do clever rats, biologists (and lawyers).

 

Refs:

Lansink CS, Goltstein PM, Lankelma JV, McNaughton BL, Pennartz CMA (2009) Hippocampus Leads Ventral Striatum in Replay of Place-Reward Information. PLoS Biol 7(8): e1000173. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000173

 

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Towards the Corporate Placemaker in 2016

by Paul Carder on December 23, 2015

by @paulcarder

I have been studying and thinking about this concept of the Corporate Placemaker for some time now. I trace it back to our work on Raising The Bar, a global study for the RICS which, after more than 140 years of history, seemed to coincide with their awakening to the importance of Facilities Management (FM). But, take a look at the link path, and it is Home/Property/FacilitiesManagement. So, FM is still a subset of property (real estate, or ‘real property’). But, is it?

I can categorically state (as we are dealing in how to ‘categorize’) that whatever we decide the “corporate placemaker” may be, it is not just property/ real estate or facilities management. Property (real estate) is heavily biased towards ownership (as its very name suggests), and maximizing the benefits of ownership of some physical asset. It can easily be seen how little the real estate market and professions care about the ‘use value’ of property by the comparatively tiny proportion of media dedicated to the subject (a key reason for our launch of Work&Place, our journal, in 2012). And facilities management is such a nebulous term which I sincerely hope can be eventually replaced with something clear and meaningful.

I think we are all searching for what to call real estate and facilities management, working together, are we not? Corporate Real Estate is represented in research, with Corporate Real Estate Journal (Henry Stewart Publications), and Journal of Corporate Real Estate (Emerald). But what is the “subject area”? – Property Management & Built Environment. As is also Facilities and Journal of Facilities Management (both Emerald).

But what of place in the context of organizations, and the people who use spaces and places for some other reason than for the asset? There is a Journal of Place Management and Development (again, by Emerald), supported by the Institute of Place Management, a body that “supports people committed to developing, managing and making places better”. Sounds promising. And the concepts are promising for the future – such as marketing and branding of places (corporate marketing take note!), the consumption of place (yes, that is what occupiers do!), and place competitiveness (again, a subject of interest to HR and corporate executives in deciding how to support their efforts to win the ‘war for talent’). But, before I get you too excited, this whole subject is about cities and town centres generally. Take a look at one of the leading Masters courses in this field and that is immediately apparent. However, this course is positioned in the department of Marketing, Operations and Digital Business at MMU Faculty of Business and Law, which is a good start! It is all about the use of places, not the built environment as an asset.

Still, nothing yet for the use of places by organizations and their people. Research and teaching has yet to make much impact on the ‘supply-side centric’ thinking which abounds in the real estate and built environment disciplines. The world of the occupier, or ‘demand-side’, is under-represented.

This is why I am so focused on the term (and hopefully the emerging discipline of) the “corporate placemaker”. I hope you can see where I am coming from. This is wider than corporate real estate and facilities management. It must pick up some of the social sciences and business administration disciplines covered by “place management” above, but focus on corporate places rather than city public spaces and town centre management.

In fact, my PhD study is grappling with exactly what it is to be a corporate “placemaker”. Leading placemaking for an organization, rather than wider society in urban spaces. The subject areas are diverse, and may include the following:

  • Organizations, Occupations and Work – sociological change, and the future of work;
  • The ‘draw’ of places – perhaps ‘place appeal’?;
  • The psychology of environment and behaviour (org. psych.);
  • Strategy and competition (esp. in competing for talent, a key HR issue)
  • Brand and image – marketing – the impact of place;
  • The consumerization of everything – including ‘the place to be’ on any one day;
  • The experience economy – not just place, but service, and experience;
  • The health & wellness debate: stress, work-life balance and related issues;
  • Workplace economics – cost vs value, taking all the above into account;
  • Corporate places, home, and ‘third places’; coworking; hubs; collaboration; innovation;
  • Home or away? – the only real human options (i.e., everyone choses either to stay at home, or to go somewhere… the default in the future may be to stay put! or work closer to where we live)
  • Management, procurement and delivery of places for corporations, employees, and their networks.
  • Relationships between the ‘placemaker’ team and the rest of the corporation & stakeholders.
  • The future provision of corporate places – new market entrants?;
  • A sustainable, low-carbon, low-stress future; we cannot continue the way we are today!

What would you call the management discipline which encompasses all of the above? The multi-faceted and strategically-minded role in large organizations, which moves between Group HR, operations, marketing, IT infrastructure planning, corporate real estate and facilities management?

(clue: the answer is not Facilities Manager. Though there is nothing to say that a good strategic-thinking FM could not develop into this role! But then, so could a good HR manager….)

 

Happy Christmas all… and our very best wishes for 2016.

 

Paul Carder

Co-Founder, Occupiers Journal Limited

paul.carder@occupiersjournal.com

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I come from the far west of England; the rugby-loving county of Cornwall. Because I was large, I had to play, but was never much good. My second-row buddy went on to play for Scotland and the British Lions, but I took up music lessons 🙂 Anyway, we had a saying when Cornwall reached the County finals, “last one over the Tamar Bridge, turn out the lights”, as busloads of Cornish traveled to support the county side!

If you are wondering what relevance this has to anything you may usually expect to read here, it just reminded me of the current direction of travel for office occupiers. i.e., out of the office – like we sped out of the county.

There was, in fact, far more drawing us back to our beloved county of Cornwall than there is for most daily occupants of offices. Aside from the Googles and Facebooks of our occupier friends, and some of the large employers that spend serious money on great workplaces, for many others the office is a dull place. You only have to see the hoards of people walking from their soulless business park to the local supermarket to buy today’s “Meal Deal” to understand how dull life can be for those unfortunate people.

No wonder, therefore, that cool cafes and co-working hubs are busier than ever. The legions of freelancers and entrepreneurs are being joined by corporate employees who just prefer somewhere better to work. I was talking to Neardesk last week, and they are experiencing ever-rising demand from people wanting to work closer to home. Not at home: that doesn’t work for everyone (many of us just want the separation of work and home life; or have too much home life going on to concentrate). But near to home, with a short commute, good coffee, and interesting people who don’t really care if you sit on the sofa and read the newspaper for a while. Nobody is watching – they’re amongst friends (or total strangers – either way, no bosses hovering).

If you don’t have to be at the office, why would you go? It may be in a great location, and you may want to go for lunch with the girl (or guy) from accounts. But, otherwise, why not wade through your emails at a desk closer to home, and actually get home before the kids are so tired that they just want to go to sleep. Or fit in that round of golf, now that the summer evenings are here? (not for me that one – golf is a good walk spoiled – certainly for my dog!). Or take some time cooking, instead of buying a pizza at 9pm. Or…or…whatever. Take some time back.

There will always be offices. But, we just don’t need to go there every day. And agile working means desk-sharing ratios can rise, so the expanding company does not necessarily need to take on more office space. Some call it space-less growth.

So, every 4th floor you occupy could be released, if more people stayed near home one or two days a week, and let someone else use their desk on those days. Or, every 4th office building – if you occupy a portfolio within a commuting catchment area.

If you manage the 4th office, switch off the lease on your way out….

Paul

@paulcarder

@occupiers

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