Facilities Managers provide the key to unlock the future of work

facilities managersRicoh UK has published a report called Leading Change at Work: The role of FM in driving the digital workplace (registration), which claims to offer ‘the definitive discussion on the future of work in the UK’. The report follows on from last year’s Conscious Workplace research which set out the behaviours, mindsets and influences shaping the new world of work in a post-pandemic world. After hosting a roundtable with five Facilities Managers from various businesses, Ricoh has gathered insight into the ongoing challenges being faced by organisations.

The report focuses on examining the biggest challenges business leaders have faced, are facing and will continue to face, particularly for those working in Facilities Management. Insights from this discussion found that while the future of the office space remains uncertain, there is a need for more robust perspectives from CEOs on how to configure workspaces and make them accessible to employees.

Moderated by journalist and author Paul Mason, all roundtable participants were prompted with general questions that evaluated the different scenarios of a new contained health impact, a continuing and disrupting health impact, and a worsening health impact of the current pandemic. They were then prompted with questions that allowed them to share their specific industry views, such as the future of the office, the reduction of office space, the office’s value, and the challenge of environmental unpredictability.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The office’s physical location has been transformed into the new business hardware[/perfectpullquote]

Speaking with experts exposed several challenges which still need to be addressed, including how to manage unsuitable remote and physical working environments. Using this information the report distilled insights into key themes for each sector, including “Challenges to Change”, “An Uncertain Future”, and “Strategy Versus Execution”. Without insight into whether health, social and economic conditions will worsen, the future of the office space remains uncertain. At the same time, there continues to be a real need for the office, but the office’s physical location has been transformed into the new business hardware.

Other insights included that everybody has faced some challenges when working from home, and that technology plays a major role in getting people either to go into the office or work from home. The report explores the problems of managing up, and making the transition from strategy to execution.

The report claims that many Facilities Managers need to start assessing what information is needed to better understand key challenges, and how the provision of the right data will support those at the top in making the right decisions. It also found that although leading change can be hard, having the courage to do so is necessary in these kinds of situation. Taking learnings from the data and then driving through actions is easier said than done.

However, the report highlights that the right digital strategies can be used to efficiently collect such data and inform such decisions, making them more easily made. The report also found that clearer direction is needed by way of business mandates, policy and ongoing governance. Facilities Managers can lead in this way to provide clarity and buy-in across all levels of their organisations.

Paul Mason, roundtable moderator, award-winning journalist, writer and film-maker, said: “For me, the standout insight from the conversations that followed was a remarkable consensus on the opportunity that exists as we define the post-pandemic work environment, for business leaders willing to listen to the needs of the modern workforce.  But it’s not just about having a strategy for a part-remote workforce. There are also powerful strategic factors influencing the decision making, not least of which are an unstable global supply chain and serious staffing concerns.”

While the report highlights the number of challenges still being faced by Facilities Managers, its conclusions outline what businesses can do to support their staff and ease the pressure felt. The report concludes that Facilities Managers feel the need to provide a clearer feedback loop, be bold, brave and purposeful, and to create clear mandates supported by policy and governance.