What will employees expect from their workplace by 2025 and what will be FMs’ biggest challenge in managing them? This was the topic for discussion at the FMJ debate held on the first day of the show; which concluded that every organisation is different and while most will embrace the latest tech trends and agile working, they need to do this at their own pace.
The panel debate, chaired by Adam Burtt-Jones, Co-founder Burtt-Jones & Brewer, comprising Alistair Craig, Managing Director at Anabas, Dr Andy Lewry, Principal Technical Consultant BRE, Adrian Powell, Director Active FM and Ian Wade Head of UK Estates for the British Medical Association, had a fascinating dialogue on the sorts of challenges to come over the next seven years.
“The environment is changing and buildings are a tool that facilities can utilise” commented Ian Wade of the BMA. “From our perspective we put in a gym and the feedback has been superb, and all because we took another look at our space and found ways use it smarter.”
Alistair Craig predicted an increasing move towards working within an agile environment, with distinctive zones for individual working, collaboration and ‘huddling’. “There are two big enablers” he added, “tech and laptops, which allow for a more agile way to work and HR policies starting to catch up, by reducing a focus on presenteeism and trusting people to deliver output without necessarily being at a desk. It’s key that teams come together with the need for collaboration and have a space fit for purpose.”
Adrian Powell agreed that FMs need to optimise buildings and ensure they’re fit for purpose. “The building itself can’t adapt so ask people for their requirements and put them in – those this will be more of a challenge for an organisation with a legacy building.”
“Technology has in some ways forced people away from the workplace which means we’re maybe not using it as intended in the past”, commented Andy Lewry of the BRE. “We’re seeing people are using it as a collaborative space to get people back together and designed as more relaxed spaces to share ideas.”
The panel concluded that flexibility is demanded already by people walking into a space meaning FMs are on that journey already, with tech as an enabler.
Culture is critical – It was agreed that culture is absolutely fundamental to how an organisation uses space, which is why FMs, designers and other stakeholders, including HR and IT must take the time to understand that identifying the culture of the workplace is vital before you make any changes, as one kind of cookie cutter environment doesn’t work for every organisation.
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