measuring workplace performance

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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By Paul Carder: @paulcarder & @WorkAndPlace

This article caught my imagination: http://www.citylab.com/design/2014/06/who-really-owns-public-spaces/373612/

Mid-way through it says, “The AIA New York exhibit attempts to make sense of its subject by organizing public space into three basic categories: congregation, circulation, and contemplation.”

Again I’m thinking, corporate workplace (inside the ‘office’), however great the design and workplace management, is just one part of the experience of work….unless one commutes to and from the office with ears, eyes and nose covered, and then stays indoors all day!

And then, of course (as earlier blogs have described) many people choose not to travel to the office at all (or at least, less often). They are likely to be already benefiting from public spaces, opening out from cafes and other places where they have chosen to work.

Now, I have to focus! – I’m primarily interested in work and place. So what does this have to do with public spaces?
The last issue of @WorkAndPlace had quite a bit to say on this subject, especially Dr Andrew Laing: “the emerging workplace is urban”, and Simon Allford’s feature where he describes bringing the city in off the pavement/sidewalk and into the office, and much more. Both fascinating reads.

A re-definition of #workplace is clearly needed – which is why we chose “Work & Place”, separating the two words.

Corporate organisations need their people to be motivated, healthy, engaged and productive (or creative, or whatever they are measured on). Organisations need every bit of extra performance, however it may be originated.

Public spaces – the city itself (or the town, for smaller locations) – the urban environment – must be an influence on how people feel, their daily experience. And that must, assuming it is a good experience of course, have an impact on health and happiness, motivation, engagement in work, and ultimately outputs.

What would be the difference in work experience, engagement and output, between (say) the same office design and management – but in different public settings? A buzzy, urban setting with almost limitless opportunities for public spaces, cafes, bars, restaurants, galleries, etc.
Or a semi-private campus: purpose designed and managed, with its own facilities (though not as plentiful as the city, perhaps).
What about the organisation that has not considered this at all, and has the same office (inside) but on a soul-less business park, with a petrol filling station nearby for people to walk out and get a poor-quality sandwich, and scuttle back to their desk to eat it?

This must make a big difference….in fact, I know it does, as I have had the pleasure (and misfortune) of working in all of these settings over 20 years!
But, has anyone studied the effects……? Have you……?

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Productivity is important at a macro-economic level. How much a country produces, measured by GDP, is still important.

Productivity at an organization level is also important, when measuring ‘output against inputs’, usually turnover and profitability.

But, unless an organization is a simple ‘producer’ (e.g., manufacturer of items for sale), then productivity is yesterday’s issue. This is now one of the key challenges for any non-manufacturing organization – and even many parts of the manufacturer, not directly working on the production process.

A government organization delivers output, not measurable in ‘units’. An advertising agency originates ideas, sometimes a spark of genius, or sometimes the result of a process of team brainstorming and analysis. The productivity of the work process is hard to measure – maybe impossible.

Traditional ‘productivity’ is about “stuff” made/time taken. So, time is the measure. But, non-manufacturing organizations do not work that way. How long the Creative Director takes to produce a new TV advert may become a problem if the project is running late. But, equally, the whole concept could come quickly as a flash of inspiration, as ideas bounce around a bright team of thinkers. Where does productivity come into that process?

Society (and therefore corporations delivering products to society; consumers) needs creativity. And, that creativity needs inspiration. It needs many other things also, as the process of innovation is not just about ideas. It needs knowledge, and people who are engaged in what they are doing – not just going through the motions. For more about the innovation process, read John Kao, who we heard speak at the CoreNet Global Summit San Diego in 2012 – certainly a process, but can it be measured by ‘productivity’?

Post-productive Places must inspire people to be creative. Places must also make people feel valued, and part of the organization, to be fully engaged in their work. Increasingly ‘places’ are also one element of the process to attract good people to work for an organization (or at the least, not to dissuade them from enquiring!). The result should be engaged people, working together in “places” designed (and managed) to inspire.

We need ways to measure the success of such places – but, it is not “productivity” as such – it is more about performance. Human performance, leading to team performance, leading to organizational performance.

Paul Carder (paul.carder@occupiersjournal.com); Twitter @occupiers

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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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Put people and performance ahead of property

by Paul Carder on July 17, 2012

By Paul Carder:

Put people and performance ahead of property” – (Facilities Management, May 2012)

This article argues that today’s “new” office concepts are not nearly as new as facilities managers think. This is Part Two of a two-part feature. Part One (“After 50 years it’s time to go mainstream“) was published in Facilities Management in March 2012. You can read Part One at this link.

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2011 IFMA Workplace Conference – Madrid

by Paul Carder on December 1, 2011

by Juan Luis de la Peña of 3G Office, Madrid (http://www.3g-office.com/inicio.html)

2011 IFMA Workplace Conference was held on 26-27th October kindly hosted by ENDESA in Madrid. All attendants (near 100 people) agree that it’s been an excellent conference with outstanding speakers and presentations as well as keynotes, moderators and round tables (plus a great catering!) where we all learned and shared real experiences, figures and trends regarding today’s ways of working and workplace solutions from several countries and business sectors.

Moderators:

Francisco Vázquez. President of 3G Office Group and Director of International Relations of IFMA Spain.

Leopoldo Alandete. Managing Director, LA & Asociados.

Xavier Llobera. General Manager, Microsoft Innovation Centre for Productivity Center.

All of them, Partners of the Workplace Innovation Group, played a great role in the conference, not only introducing the speakers but also questioning them and sharing their experiences and points of view regarding key matters in an open and frank way.

Conferences:

Introduction to Social Dynamics (by Francisco Vázquez)

Francisco made a clear introduction to how social dynamics are changing – dynamics that are mainly driven by technology, and new generations of people which are demanding new ways of working that suit their needs, and how companies are consequently adapting their workplaces to be flexible.

[Read more…]

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