June saw me attend World Workplace Europe (WWE) in Stockholm on behalf of the RICS, an event that looked to build on the collaboration between IFMA and the RICS.
The World Workplace events have mainly been the preserve of IFMA within the USA so to bring their multi streamed conference to the beautiful city of Stockholm was an opportunity not to miss.
The first thing you notice about WWE is the format: simultaneous alternative presentations offer the delegate three options as you navigate the topics that most take your fancy. The day is then interspersed with break out time and anchored by keynote speeches to open and close. There’s a worry that you have picked the wrong room or topic and then spend the next 25 minutes wondering if you made the right choice.
Overall, though, the content is good with plenty of provocative food for thought. The topics throughout the day and a half were both current and relevant whilst concentrating heavily on workplace, technology and the end user experience. The Macro European impact on FM was unpacked in the first keynote from Jeffrey Scott Saunders from the Copenhagen Institute of Future Studies. He presented the audience with four scenarios for the future of the European workplace:
- A fractured Europe – Where Brexit acts as a domino and every country looks after itself.
- A rebooted Europe – Brexit acts as a catalyst to reboot the European project.
- A two speed Europe – Where France and Germany dominate.
- A paralysed Europe – Uncertainty pervades and Europe stagnates.
He posed a challenge. How will these scenarios play out and what would be the effect of capital and human resource flows both into and out of Europe? How prepared is the FM sector for any of these scenarios and how may they affect any of the businesses we support? The consensus was that the most likely scenarios revolved around a rebooted or two speed Europe – the risks associated with the other scenarios would be devastating to the European economy.
Technology dominated some of the presentations but not to the total exclusion of the human factors that drive FM: The four generations in the workplace, productivity, the rise or otherwise of Millennials, the augmented and non-human workforce all have a part to play in our delivery of FM in the future.
The ethical challenges and security risks that present themselves as our workforce becomes more connected surfaced through some of the panel discussions. For example, how does wellbeing, work life balance and stress within the workplace fit with sensors, monitors and trackers that allow our employers or others access to almost every part of our daily lives and routines? As the world becomes more automated and machine learning along with Artificial Intelligence grow in terms of their influence then what is the impact of the middle and working classes that work throughout Europe and beyond?