Yes, very nice, but who do you think is going to clean it?

Abu Dhabi Mosque smallIf you want to, you can see the difference between design and facilities management as the difference between sex and parenthood. One is an act of creation, the other of care. So while an architect or designer might look at the honeycomb structures and shiny surfaces of the interior of the 40,000 capacity Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi with admiration, the person who is actually responsible for looking after it might well be more likely to think ‘well, that’s just great’.

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Designing for productivity means creating space for us to be alone

WilkhahnOn the face of it, the case for working in open plan offices is clear cut. Not only are they  more conducive to collaborative work and less bound by ideas of that great no-no that we used to call ‘status’, the economic case is seemingly open and shut. Open plan workstations not only take up around half the space of cellular offices, the fit-out costs are typically 25 per cent lower. And yet there are clear signs of a backlash, at least to the idea of them fostering collaborative work.

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Global FM announces strategic vision & FM award winners

Global FM

Global FM, (Global Facility Management Association) has formalised changes to its strategic plan. It follows the recommendations of a special Taskforce set up last year to evaluate the structure, objectives and activities of the association, a worldwide federation of member-centric organisations representing the facilities management profession. The Association explains the taskforce was: “In agreement that a more simplified structure would allow a better use of resources focussing on activities that create added value for the association and its members and avoiding any duplication of the outcomes of the national FM associations.”

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A more decentralised office inevitable for world’s workers

The changing nature of work and the workforce continues to transform offices around the world. And nowhere more so than in the United States  According to a recent report from McKinsey – called Preparing for a New Era of Knowledge Work – not only are we seeing the final stages of the transition to a knowledge economy with all that entails, demographic inertia means that there may be a huge shortfall in the number of skilled graduate workers needed to service it. This pattern will be evident around the world, especially in rapidly developing economies such as China and India.  More →

UK businesses lag behind US counterparts in adoption of Cloud tech

Businesses in the UK are significantly lagging behind their US counterparts when it comes to adopting Cloud technology according to new research from Redwood Software. The study found that 58 percent of US businesses were already using the cloud for private data storage, compared to just 35 percent in the UK. Meanwhile twice as many organisations in the US are using Cloud technology for supply chain integration and capacity management than their Brit contemporaries. More →

Workplace transformation strategies are an essential element of CSR

CNGLogo

Adopting 21st-century workplace practices that meet the needs of employers and employees is an important form of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), according to a new corporate real estate (CRE) industry advocacy statement by CoreNet Global. The report finds the nature of work is “changing dramatically, transcending the traditional definitions of productivity to include the concepts of enabling work, employee engagement, employee satisfaction and employee wellness, framed around an emerging ‘work-life support’ business model.” More →

Clarification complaints on changes to EPCs

EPC_header_image_contentpageimageImportant changes to the requirements regarding Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are effective from tomorrow – 9 January 2013.

But according to RICS (The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) many of these changes have not previously been discussed and RICS has been asking the DCLG for clarification on some of the amendments, including whether or not listed buildings are now excluded. More →

Free briefing – workplace legal calendar for 2013

Briefing cover legal_0000The UK coalition government’s battle against red tape hasn’t meant an end to the introduction of new workplace regulations or revisions to existing legislation. Far from it, in fact. In conjunction with one of the UK’s leading law firms Shoosmiths, here is our run down on what to expect over the coming twelve months including changes to the working time directive, a new approach to Health and Safety and the latest on the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations. Simply click on the image above to view or download the briefing.

WWF launches Green Game Changers Report

When it comes to the development of meaningful and innovative approaches to the environment, companies are often way ahead of legislation and prepared to do far more than is expected of them by Governments. Best practice is lauded by the WWF in its Green Game changers initiative which has just launched a new report highlighting those organisations that have pushed the envelope on environmental thinking. The latest Green Game Changers Report can be viewed and downloaded here. More →

What does 2013 hold for the facilities sector in the UK?

FMJ MJE_0000Insight publisher Mark Eltringham offers some thoughts about what the coming year holds in the latest issue of Facilities Management Journal including the ongoing existential crisis of facilities management, why the commercial property sector needs to catch up with occupiers and designers as well as a plea for everybody to set ambitious goals and make realistic claims about their environmental impact.

Free briefing – key technology trends for 2013

Insight Briefing - 2013 Technologies_0000The latest of our free Insight Briefings, sponsored by Condeco, is now available to view and download. It explores the major workplace technology trends for 2013, including unified communications, BIM, space utilisation, the Cloud and BYOD asking not only what the technologies are in and of themselves, but what their likely implications are for workplace designers and managers. Just click the image above to view or download the report. 

It’s essential to design flexibility into an office

The design of offices and the furniture that fills them matters because of what it tells us about how we work, how organisations function and even what is happening in the economy. If you want to know what’s going on, take a look at the places we work and the things with which we surround ourselves and how they change over time.

Because the way we work changes so quickly, buildings need to have flexibility built into them so that they meet our needs today but anticipate what we will need tomorrow. In his book How Buildings Learn, Stewart Brand outlines the process whereby buildings evolve over time to meet the changing needs of their occupants. He describes each building as consisting of six layers, each of which functions on a different timescale. These range from the site itself which has a life cycle measured in centuries, through to the building (decades), interior fit out (years), technology (months), to stuff (days). The effectiveness of a workplace design will depend on how well it resolves the tensions that exist between these layers of the building.

In terms of our workplaces, the ability to respond to change is perhaps the most important facet of an effective design. Creating this level of responsiveness is described in the Facilities Design and Management Handbook by its author Eric Teichholz as ‘the basic driver of the facilities management workload.’

While the nature of work has already changed in many ways, the pace of change has increased even more dramatically over recent years. So the challenge for designers and facilities managers is how best to manage change, keep costs down and provide a flexible home for the organisation. Successful management of change is a good thing, an agent of growth and commercial success. Change handled badly can hamstring an organisation.

The standard answer to the challenge is to build flexibility into the building. At the property management level, this may mean a change in contractual terms, notably in the length of leases, and the provision of lease breaks.

Varying levels of flexibility must also be apparent through the rest of the building in terms of its design and management. If we take an idealised view of the modern office as a flexible, social space for a peripatetic, democratised and technologically literate workforce, the solution lies in an increased use of desk sharing, drop in zones, break out space and other forms of multi-functional workspaces. In many offices, individual workspace is already being rapidly replaced by other types of space, quiet rooms and collaborative areas.

Flexibility must be hardwired into the building at a macro-level. Not only must floorplates be capable of accepting a wide range of work styles and planning models, servicing must be appropriate and anticipate change. That doesn’t mean just in terms of technology and telecoms but also basic human needs such as having enough toilets to deal with changing occupational densities. It also means having a HVAC specification that can deal with the changing needs associated with different numbers of people and different types of equipment.

Elements of the interior that were once considered static are also having to offer far larger degrees of flexibility including, furniture, lighting, storage and partitions. This issue of flexibility has become more important within interior design. Interior elements should now define space, portray corporate identity, comply with legislation and act as an aid in wayfinding. They must do all this and be able to adapt as the organisation changes.

We may not always know exactly what the future holds, but we can work today to be ready for it.