Let’s face it. We are addicted! Technology permeates every aspect of our lives. How many of you look at your phone before you go to sleep at night and then before your feet hit the ground in the morning. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Dashboards, Stock prices and bank balance… Once in a while you may actually speak with your partner though most definitely not your kids… they only text.
In our workplaces technology is both an enabler and a blocker. On the one hand we have become so reliant on technology to carry out our day to day functions. Yet more and more people are finding that their access to software, different types of social media channels and importantly hardware at home now lag behind the capability we have at the office. The home technology market has leapfrogged most organisations leaving their workers frustrated and having to find new innovation to circumvent the firewalls and IT policies organisations have put in place. What does that mean for the organisations of tomorrow? Will we still need fixed lines… or any “pure phone devices” with the advent of Lync (soon to be Skype), Facetime and the like?
How has this impacted organisations and facilities management (FM) professionals? What has the FM community done to assist their clients with these dilemmas? The introduction of BYOD and “Geek Squads”, and Personal IT outsource are some of the trends currently being addressed within the FM Market.
We all know that for most companies their two most expensive assets are people and property. Whilst most FMs have a professional intuition about the utilisation of their workspace, meetings rooms, floors, and desks they struggle to quantify either their defence (I can never find a room) or their proposal (we can add an additional 30% of people into the building(s) without altering our property cost).
Simply believing and acting on a single set of data could result in the wrong implications. We see this time and time again at Condeco. Our room booking system in isolation will only tell you that a room has been booked. The addition of screens will tell us if someone is actually using that room. To go a step further Condeco Sense will tell us that a 12 person room with hospitality, AV, and VC was actually only used by 4 people, clearly identifying the gap between what people think they need and the reality of the actual need. Trend analysis (often done by a human being) will highlight that for example a 12 person meeting room will be booked 90% of the time but that on average only 60% of those meetings will actually turn up and 40% of those meetings will only be have 6 or less attendees. The savvy FM professional will propose new meeting room fit outs with the average size of 6 not 12, resulting in more collaborative meeting space for the organization, thereby making better use of the defined space in a way that organisations want to use them.
As IT and FM merge ever closer, reacting to the growing demand for collaborative workspace with flexible connectivity to meet the work and personal needs of our workforce. It is almost unthinkable nowadays to prevent our people accessing personal social media channels (Twitter/Facebook/Snapchat etc) while at work, but you only have to go back 5 years and it was the norm as it was seen as a distraction or a risk to the company IT infrastructure.
Today work-life blurs the lines between home and work. Most of us work from a variety of locations, differing time zones and outside the 9-5 classic hours of work. If this is the norm then it is reasonable that today’s workers expect access to keep in touch with the outside world via their devices, failure to provide this is putting a company at risk at attracting and retaining new talent. FM, IT and HR have a pivotal role in this.
Malcom X said that knowledge is power and we believe that this still holds true today. But let us not mistake knowledge for data.
Data - Facts or statistics collected together for reference or analysis. Data is a set of values of qualitative or quantitative variables.
Knowledge - A familiarity, awareness or understanding of someone or something, such as facts, information, descriptions, or skills, which is acquired through experience or education by perceiving, discovering, or learning.
Without the human element knowledge does not exist. Experience, emotion, perception, opinion, wisdom are the sum total of what makes up knowledge and is often the differentiator between a measured and successful decision and one made purely on date.
Our experience has demonstrated that you look after your people and they will look after the business! FMs have a greater opportunity today to contribute to the overall success of a business than ever before. Yes technology has transformed and continues to evolve facilities management and workplaces but it the expertise, knowledge and experience of FMS and workplace professionals that really create innovative solutions and opportunities to our workspaces.
By combining data, knowledge, insight and innovative thinking we can create a workplace that is flexible to the needs of the people and its business. Embrace data and make it work for you, challenge your software providers, ask the FM leaders for their input to help you make the argument for change in your organisation. Go on, give it a go…We dare you!
By Debra Ward and David Howorth