July 23, 2014
Many corporate organisations now operate on a global scale, with operations spread across a number of countries and continents. But while they are geographically diverse, they nevertheless have a requirement to meet measurable standards of performance, delivered on a consistent basis regardless of location. If something works well in one country, companies want to be able to replicate it in all others. Wherever standards relating to compliance, health and safety, sustainability, leadership or management are most rigorous, it makes good business sense to employ those same standards wherever they have a presence. But from the collapse of a building full of factory workers in Bangladesh to the death of hundreds of construction workers in Qatar, the need to promote and adhere to international standards is more than a matter of mere commerciality.
There’s a moral imperative too: putting lives before profits, and ultimately ‘doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do’.
There’s nothing necessarily new about the so-called triple bottom line – people, planet and profitability – but what is new in our experience is the pace at which this measure is taking hold, especially in global businesses. This is why we were delighted last week to announce the news that international FM consultancy, Agents4RM, has acquired a 50 per cent stake in Workplace Law Group, to create a global learning and development business as a core component of a global professional services business for the FM and built environment sector.
When we launched Workplace Law in 1995 we were one of the first professional services businesses to use email as a communications tool to deliver the latest news and information on regulatory developments in the UK. Since then the pace of change has accelerated, driven by developments in technology and communications – and the world is getting smaller.
We’ve increasingly recognised that our clients are less interested in UK law and practice, and more engaged with international standards. When it comes to ensuring compliance in the workplace, getting the most from their people, or operating sustainably, companies want to establish performance measures that can be applied internationally, supported by training that is delivered to a consistent level.
The benchmarks they choose might be based on internationally recognised standards such as ISO 14001, 18001 or 50001, on ILO standards, or on the competency profiles of their personnel that have been developed by appropriate professional bodies.
This development – towards international performance standards, regulation and good practice, and away from mere compliance with the requirements of national legislation – is driving positive change in the workplace management market, and it’s a development we feel well-placed to remain ahead of.
As we expand into international markets, where the law governing the management of the workplace is different from one country to the next, the name ‘Workplace Law’ is increasingly irrelevant. And so after 19 years we’re changing – ‘International workplace’ will continue to fly the (increasingly multi-cultural) flag for compliance and best practice, ensuring our clients meet and exceed the consistently high standards of workplace management that are the same the world over.
David Sharp is managing director of Workplace Law – a leading provider of consultancy and training with particular prominence in the FM sector, – which under the terms of a joint venture is changing its name to International Workplace.