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Facilities Management Journal March 2017

In FMJ's regular monthly column, our team of FM experts answer your questions about the world of facilities management THE EXPERT'S VIEW ANDREW MAWSON, FOUNDER AND MD, ADVANCED WORKPLACE ASSOCIATES (AWA) The quick answer to that is no you can’t. In order to be able to understand how to organise the workplace (and everything associated with it) to maximise knowledge worker productivity, we have to review the concept of “productivity” as we would understand it in the manufacturing world. There’s not a simple formula when it comes to measuring the output of employees working in the knowledge industries. The work that knowledge workers are involved in is more complex; and the outcomes are, therefore, less defined. So rather than directing all our eff orts on how to measure performance, I think we should instead focus on maximising the performance capability of each individual by creating the right conditions. To do that, we need to recognise that the primary tool of a knowledge worker is their brain. Then we need to manage the workplace accordingly so that we provide the services and conditions that can unleash the potential of each and every individual on the payroll. Once we’ve successfully done that, the next step is to think about the community – what can we do to help it 18 MARCH 2017 to flourish so that knowledge transfer can happen. It’s important that people aren’t inhibited when it comes to sharing their ideas, and workplace management plays a key role in that pursuit. Before we set metrics, we need to ensure that the workplace doesn’t get in the way of people being able to work eff ectively. Distraction from excessive noise or poor levels of temperature, light and air quality, for example, can all impinge a person’s performance. The technological infrastructure should also be in ship-shape condition; it should be slick and easy to use – an enabler, not a burden! If we do everything in our power to ensure that our employees are physically and cognitively fit, then that should have a positive knock-on eff ect on overall performance. You can measure the workplace off ering by conducting an assessment, running a company-wide survey, or by having the candid conversations necessary to gauge whether people have the things they need to be able to be the best they can. However, measuring actual productivity – the value of a person’s contribution – is a trickier beast. The productivity of a knowledge worker is largely measured by the ability to solve a problem, or the time in which it takes to complete a task. As such, performance is oft en gauged by the perception the leader – “you’re doing a good job here, you need to improve this” – and that’s, of course, subjective. All we can do is create the best conditions that we can based on the best science we have available. AWA has conducted bullet-proof research that reveals the factors that can impact cognitive performance and knowledge worker productivity. This will help leaders get the best out of the people that they’re hiring by providing the framework necessary for people to be able to do their best work in a socially cohesive environment. THE CONSULTANT’S VIEW SIMON HEATH, CONSULTANT, HR GURU When an issue like productivity gets covered in the kinds of publications that CEOs actually read you know it won’t be long before you can hear the rumbling of the circling bandwagons of the various workplace disciplines, accompanied by the exhortation of the snake oil salesmen, the purveyors of miracle cures and the polishers of silver FM CLINIC Measuring the productivity of off ice occupants has become something of a holy grail in FM as a way of providing evidence that the quality of the workplace environment enhances performance. But is it really possible to measure the output of a knowledge worker in the same way you'd expect from say those in manufacturing? Andrew Mawson ADVICE & OPINION There’s not a simple formula when it comes to measuring the output of employees working in the knowledge industries." – Andrew Mawson


Facilities Management Journal March 2017
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