Creating a Future-proof Workplace Strategy: 3 People Who Are Essential

by Elizabeth Dukes on June 18, 2018

Will your workplace still be relevant 10 years from now?

We’ve reached the point where a physical office is no longer needed by all employees, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important.

Within most organizations, the office still serves as the linchpin for collaboration and sets the tone for the employee experience, along with HR policies and workplace technology.

According to Deloitte, an effective workplace strategy must address all three of these elements while accounting for the fact that the way we work is constantly evolving. When it comes to creating a future-proofed workplace, there are three people who must lead the way: the facilities manager, the HR manager and the IT manager.

Here’s a look at the role each one plays in recruiting and retaining a talented workforce, improving workplace efficiency and enhancing the employee experience.

Facilities Managers

The facilities manager and facilities management (FM) team are much more than building managers these days, but they still have the greatest influence over the physical work environment. And the way that environment is designed and maintained is the most tangible example of how much an organization is invested in its employees.

The facilities department also plays an important role in setting the stage for a happy, healthy and productive workforce. Studies have shown the workplace has a direct impact on the psychological and emotional health of employees which, in turn, affects their efficiency.

Additionally, because many employees can work from anywhere, they expect more from their office than a space that’s clean and well-lit. If they’re going to make the commute, they expect it to be a place that’s warm, inviting and conducive to the work they’re doing on any given day. They want it to be a place where they can easily connect with their colleagues or spend time in quiet concentration. They want to be able to enjoy some of the amenities they’ve seen in other offices or have heard about from their friends. For potential employees, comparing your organization to another that’s similar in terms of work, pay and benefits, the physical office and the culture it facilitates can be a key differentiator.

What They Can Do

As facilities managers take on expanded roles that include budgeting and business strategy recommendations, they need to look at new metrics to define success in their workplace. They also need to be willing to test new designs, technologies and ways of working.

Human Resources Managers

Without a workforce, there is no workplace. And since unemployment has been holding steady at less than 5 percent for about two-and-a-half years, the war for talent likely won’t be getting easier anytime soon. According to a study by Brandon Hall Group, a business that commits to providing a positive candidate experience can improve the quality of new hires by 70 percent.

The HR manager is the owner of the most important information about every member of the workforce—from the moment an employee submits an application to the day she walks out of the office for the last time. They are also the expert on company policies and standard procedures. Their input helps the facilities and IT teams understand what is even possible when it comes to strategies for improving efficiency in the workplace. This includes limitations regarding budget and resource availability. An innovative workplace with the latest technology is only as valuable as the policies and procedures that dictate how employees interact with it.

In a 2016 study, researchers found that when employees believe their employer’s HR policies and practices support their job performance, they were more likely to be involved in their job and feel a higher sense of wellbeing. On the flip side, employees who believed their HR department was focused more on budget and less on their happiness felt burdened by their work and experienced higher levels of emotional exhaustion.

What They Can Do

Human resources managers need to consider all the interactions employees have within the workplace in a typical day and whether existing workplace policies need to be updated to better support them. They also need to think about how the workplace strategy impacts everyone, from a new employee to a high-level manager. For instance, if your organization is considering moving to an activity-based working model in which there are no assigned seats, a new employee can get lost in the shuffle and quickly become disengaged if she can’t find her manager. HR managers need to consider how they can equip managers to onboard new employees and lead a team in this new environment.

IT Managers

While the FM department primarily controls the presentation of the workplace, the IT team controls the technology that powers the workplace. And as wardens, they must ensure that an organization is not only using the most up-to-date digital tools but that these tools are supporting the efficiency of the workplace.

Outdated technology can actually be more of a hindrance than no technology at all because if employees don’t expect to have the help of technology, they can figure out a workaround. But if they rely on technology and that technology isn’t functioning properly, either they or the IT team will waste time trying to make it work.

The concept of work-life balance is slowly being replaced by the idea of work-life fluidity. Employees, especially younger members of the workforce, rarely leave their work at the office. Thus, they require workplace technology that allows them to easily and seamlessly transition from their personal to their professional lives. They need (and expect) the digital tools they use at work to mirror the technology they use outside the office.

The IT manager and IT team are the ones who decide whether or not these needs are met. Thankfully, the majority of IT departments are onboard. Among the 2,000+ IT professionals surveyed by Salesforce, 78 percent claimed projects designed to impact the digital employee experience are a greater priority than they were even two years ago.

What They Can Do

IT managers should adopt mobile technology that’s easy for employees to use wherever they happen to be working. That includes mobile apps and interactive kiosks that allow employees to find colleagues, find and reserve rooms, request service and receive visitors.

Tips for Creating a Future-Proof Workplace Strategy

It’s clear that each of these three leaders play a crucial role in creating a future-proof workplace strategy, and they should all be part of the planning.

However, when it comes to actually developing a workplace strategy, the path forward may not be so obvious. What works for a small tech startup won’t necessarily be successful at a large enterprise. A workplace design that’s popular among Millennials won’t necessarily be as big of a hit among Baby Boomers who are more accustomed to working in a more traditional setting. We hear from a lot of organizations who know they need to make changes in their workplace but don’t know how to start.

That’s why our new resource is designed to address just that. It features interviews with leaders from McKesson, Sodexo and others who have implemented new workplace strategies and offers practical tips for choosing the right one, getting buy-in and getting it done. Check it out, and you’ll be on your way to creating a workplace strategy that stands the test of time.


Elizabeth Dukes

Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

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