The recent announcement that the BIFM is proposing to change its name to the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) and begin the process of attaining chartered body status was still being absorbed by delegates at the BIFM London annual conference, which took place on 5 March at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in Savoy Place, London.
The main theme of the day, the Chair Neil Usher explained, was technology and innovation which in many ways did fit the bill, given the member’s organisation big plans to change the Institute. So, following Mike Gillespie of Advent IM’s advice that cyber security is the biggest threat to any business and the ways to counteract it we moved onto the theme of innovation in FM.
Lucy Jeynes from Larch Consulting made the point that a good idea isn’t necessarily innovation as it’s important the idea is then converted into something practical. She then cited some of the successful and not so successful ways of tendering for contracts, giving clients in the audience the valuable tip that simply telling potential service providers you want them to innovate isn’t enough, you need to explain in what areas of your organisation innovation is needed.
FM’s said Mark Davenport, CEO of Smart Buildings, have only really switched onto the benefits of smart buildings in the last 12 months, and his informative and educational presentation helped fill in many of the blanks in terms of the terminology used in this fast- moving area.
Colin Mooney, Head of Health, Safety and Facilities at The Crown Estate gave an excellent talk on the innovative approach his organisation took when it moved to its new home at St James Market. During his presentation, he talked honestly and refreshingly about his disappointment, prior to the move, when faced with a poll which revealed only 47 per cent of occupants were proud of their workplace. He then outlined the challenges, the lessons learnt and most inspiringly the benefits in terms of engagement and productivity following the changes made to work styles after the move.
Mark Catchlove from Herman Miller kicked off the afternoon session with his own innovative way of getting people engaged by asking delegates to talk to the people around them on where they get their best ideas. He then took people through his research looking at creating an environment for innovation. Tech guru Greg Williams, Editor-in-Chief of WIRED Magazine, talked about the future of technology and its impact on the built environment, and BIFM London Chair Jason Cousins, Facilities Director for Womble Bond Dickinson described his own personal challenge to run seven marathons in seven continents in seven days.
There as also finally, a last-minute addition to the programme; a Q&A on that proposed BIFM change. For this, Chris Moriarty Director of Insight and Jacqueline Balian Commercial Director of the BIFM fielded questions on whether the idea constituted more than just a name change and what they thought a future Institute would look like?
Balian explained that the Institute has begun by looking at a “blank manifesto “so far, but that will evolve based on what people put into it. “What’s been fantastic,” she added, “is how people have engaged so far.” It’s good she said to get more information on what people want, as members have said they feel that they can’t achieve all they’d want because of the rush to the bottom on price, and FM is seen as something to turn to first to cut costs. Members want greater understanding of the value they bring.
The other major point of discussion was regarding Chartered Status, with it was explained the aim of the Institute gaining Chartered status for BIFM as an organisation, and then get to point where Chartered Status is offered to individual members.
Chris Moriarty explained: “Chartered Status has been talked about for years and it’s time to give it a crack and give it everything we can, but if it does not pan out then it certainly won’t be the end of us.”
The discussion also centred on why introduce the work workplace into the new name, but according to Moriarty this has been on the cards for years and has now reached “a critical mass in understanding the value attached to it.”
The Workplace word has traction he argued, but it doesn’t mean relabelling FM. Currently though, he argued there is a huge chunk of workplace strategy which is anchored in IT and HR – with FM is often overlooked. This change he said could well be a vehicle to start us getting into the boardroom. Times change and we need to change with it, he argued.
The debate, of course will continue, and it certainly added an extra frisson to the event, we’ll wait to see how the discussions over the coming months will develop.