It feels like the world is moving faster than ever before, and it's true. The way we work and live has shifted drastically in recent years thanks to technology. Facilities management isn't immune to this change, yet many professionals see this as a positive shift in the way we connect and do work. I sat down with two facilities professionals to discuss how workplace leaders can stay ahead of these changes by continually adapting their workspaces and better preparing their workforce.
The Evolution of the Workplace in a Highly Connected and Fast-Changing World
Gordon Wright | Senior Principal and Global Director of WorkPlace for HOK
"Who can help us change, who can get in front of this and actually manage this. And I think there's a greater understanding that this is something that's not temporary. The change that technology is bringing is not going to stop and it's not going away. So we've got to do something about it."
Gordon Wright is the director of HOK’s global WorkPlace practice, a member of HOK's global Board of Directors and the firm's Management Board. Gathering from his experience, Gordon believes that the workplace is going through an evolutionary cycle and we are living in a digital revolution where the workplace must adapt to the accelerating pace in which technology is impacting organizations. What's happening in our culture and our world and how we live our lives are entirely different than they were just a few years ago. Connected technology is part of a fundamental change in the way the world works, and it's not some fad that's going to disappear in 10 years and we can all go back to the way things were before. This isn't just an evolutionary change but a revolutionary change.
So, how can organizations grow with this change? Gordon says, "there's no magic pill" that will fix everything. Future-proofing your office for 10 years isn't a possibility, and that's actually the wrong mindset to have. Your workplace must be constantly updating, and while this does have additional cost associated with it, in the end it's going to cost even more to not keep your workspace updated. By not incorporating technology and various ways of working you're going to risk losing top talent, and those that do stay may not be as productive as they could be.
A good mindset workplace leaders can have is to, "focus on the people, and not just the four walls and a ceiling". It's best to put yourself if your workforce's shoes. Imagine if you had stuck with the same computers, the same phone lines and the same systems you did five, or worse 15 years ago. Your office would be obsolete. Imagine trying to work without the things you have now, the things that are standard. This acceleration rate that is going on must be met, and that's where an organization has to seize the opportunity to ask their workforce what they need to do their job, and make adjustments for the people. Get HR involved and ask who needs to be involved to help things get done. Once you have the changes that need to be made based employee feedback, it's up to the workplace leaders to spearhead that effort.
FM Connectivity and the Rise of Mobile Technology in Building Operations
Steve Smith | Director of Physical IT Network for Arvest Bank
"I foresee a lot of facility management systems being more app-integrated, easier to manage from a hand-held device. I think there's going to be a lot of early processing that gives you a recommendation on what the problem most likely is based on feedback that you're getting from the equipment."
Sporting quite an impressive list of credentials, Steve Smith CFM, CFMJ, MFE, DCEP serves as Director of Physical IT Network for Arvest Bank, where he serves in the critical role of managing systems operations for data center and home office facilities. Steve is a proud advocate for the facilities management profession, and recognizes the importance the role has on the workplace and the success to an organization.
Today's facilities manager has a direct impact on the satisfaction and retention of the workforce, and staying current with changing trends and technology is part of that responsibility. Steve recognizes that one of the most significant shifts happening in the FM world is the focus and dependance on hand-held devices and mobile technology. It's connecting us like never before, and in terms of running a building the span of where employees are is very wide. Your FM reach has to meet those workers on the outskirts of that span, and technology is the only way that is possible.
The proper use of app technology within the workplace also makes your workforce feel engaged and more productive, and in turn are more connected to the work they're doing. You're giving them the opportunity to engage with their surroundings and the chance to feel heard. Even little adjustments like "extending Wifi outside to the picnic tables near the office" can have a large impact on the people in your building. Steve has seen first hand the positive outcome of making these little changes, and even offering employees options and flexibility in the way they work brings the best people to your company. Part of our ever-expanding roll as workplace leaders is increasing both retention and employee satisfaction. If you create an environment people enjoy, they're going to want to stay longer.
With technological changes happening rapidly in our professional and personal lives, many of us feel we are already behind, but don't let that discourage you! There's no time like the present to better prepare for the future.