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    Facilities Management Teams Are Modern Day Trailblazers

    Elizabeth Dukes

    Throughout our new book Wide Open Workspaces: Trailblazing Solutions for Tomorrow’s Workforce, we compare the workspace of today to the unexplored trails of the cowboy era. Regardless of the industry you are in, facilities are facing changes they have never faced before. The possibilities for growth and productivity are endless. For this reason, we refer to the 21st Century workspace as the “Wide Open Workspace” (WOW). Armed with ten-gallon courage, flexibility and the right team of cowboys, companies are breaking new ground, reaching successes they never dreamed possible before.

    At the heart of this evolution is the facilities management team. Facility managers are charged with the task of ensuring the organization’s day to day activities go off without a hitch, in conjunction with inventing an inspiring environment for maximum productivity. Success in this arena takes both courage and free-thinking. Much like the cowboys of the 19th century, these facilities teams are exploring uncharted territory, paving paths for those less courageous.

    The digital world we face today, coupled with the growing Millennial workforce, has pressured organizations to re-think how their offices are run. It is the facilities management team that is tasked with the job of defining thisfacility managers are the modern day cowboys reorganization as well as who will be involved in this project. Then they must align with their workforce to ensure the project’s success. As the project leader, the FM team is our modern day cowboy—possessed with the ten gallon courage it takes to make things happen.

    Innovative Workspaces

    Ours is a fast-paced, always on-the-go workforce and employees not only want but demand access to the tools that enable them to work, regardless of the time of day or where they are. As more of the younger generation go out into the workforce, this demand only stands to increase. Without these modern day tools, facilities stand to lose out on attracting, maintaining and inspiring the top talent. From open, collaborative floor plans to software and mobile apps, the “herd” knows what they want & need and are not afraid to explore opportunities until they obtain it.

    So just what are some of these paths being blazed in today’s workspace? Perhaps the most widely paved path involves office space and mobility. Executives and their facilities teams are recognizing that one of the most effective ways to “do more with less” is through “flexspacing”. Through the use of technology, companies are creating open, collaborative workspaces- spaces that inspire creativity and higher productivity, as well as support mobility. Whether allowed to work from home, or on the road servicing clients, a large percentage of the modern day workforce is on the go. This mobility leaves many desks open at any given time. Through flexspacing, companies reduce the physical space based on their individual needs. Aside from the reduction in spatial spending, this innovative approach establishes trust between employee and employer.

    In order to stay true to the facility’s mission, a reorganization project of any size requires careful research and attention to detail. It is the facilities management team’s duty to ensure the needs of both the company and it’s employees are met in order for the project to be successful. Facilities teams must have the ability to listen and collaborate with members of other teams, to define what exactly would constitute that inspiring workspace. It requires a collaborative effort from the executives upstairs, to department heads, as well as HR and IT, each with their own set of ideas and needs. The facilities team must be adept at listening, as well as reading between the lines, and then devise a plan of action that gets the entire herd working together. This is a delicate balance. Whether your facility is internally or externally mobile, there is no doubt that the need for mobility is here to stay.

    Innovative Tools

    With the workspace changing at such a rapid rate, the facilities management profession is on the rise. Facilities are seeking out new ways to increase productivity and decrease costs. And facility managers are there to make that happen. As these FMs blaze new trails, they are seeking out tools to help in mapping out their organization’s needs as well as manage all their tasks. Tools that will then aid them in devising a plan of action for achieving each of their goals.

    For many facilities, regardless of the size, facilities management software such as IWMS is that invaluable tool. But just choosing the right FM software, and convincing the executives to invest, requires many of the attributes the 19th Century cowboy exemplified. Regardless of the solution, the facility team must keep an eye out for a multi-purposed tool that is flexible, customized to your company, and, most importantly, simple. It takes a strong knowledge of the industry and a commitment to the company brand.

    Cowboy Courage

    A cowboy’s ten-gallon courage is a must for every aspect of the FM team’s duties. The FM team must have the courage to seek out solutions to get the job done. They must find it in them to explore unchartered territory, and approach the executives upstairs with these solutions, knowing they may be met with resistance. Preparation ahead of time and the courage to take risks and believe in their proposals is critical. After all, if you don’t believe a tool will work, how will you convince those upstairs? And once you have begun implementation of your new solutions, you must be the leader, ensuring the entire herd is behind these implementations. It is your job to make your projects work. And to do that, you must believe in yourself, your team and your decisions.

    As the facility trailblazers, your team has a sizable list of duties. There is no room for complacency in this profession, as it is your job to ensure the success of your organization. This requires constant examination of the workforce and their needs and finding new solutions. Armed with the tools that work, today’s facilities teams are breaking new ground, leading their companies to the top spot in their industry.

    Download the first chapter of Wide Open Workspace

    Elizabeth Dukes


    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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