Monday 3 June 2019

Duty Now For The Future (Remix)

Three years ago, our Head of Workplace, Will Easton, wrote about the need for a shift in mindset, from the traditional Facilities Management to Workplace. Calling on the industry to adapt to the demands of the ever-evolving business agendas, it offered up the argument that if the industry wanted to survive, it needed to change its approach. 

Since its original publication (Duty Now For The Future (2016), we have seen the subject debated with increasing popularity, the rebranding of BIFM to IWFM and increase in roles with specific reference to workplace.

It has been something of a contentious issue at times, with workplace being a word that excites, as well as stirring emotion within the profession. But the fact that those discussions do take place highlights the importance of identity within the discipline. Is the identity positioned at the right place for the present as well as the future?

Here is the original blog from 2016:  
The future of work is changing rapidly. In fact, so rapidly that as I write this a new concept or model will have replaced last week’s trend. This makes it hard to know where to look in order to keep up with the latest hyperbolic crusades.

One certainty is that every function in an organisation needs to be prepared and armed with the flexibility, adaptability and foresight for impending changes. Facilities Management, as a profession, has long argued its case for a seat at the top table, in the boardroom, demonstrating its untouchable importance to the organisation. In truth, this is justified, but no so then the next department or business function. HR, IT, Finance, Sales, Procurement, Legal and many more are all equally important to the success of any organisation.

However, the future trends of work will see a systematic shift in the responsibilities of business functions. Relationships between uneasy bedfellows, newly formed tribes and surprising allegiances will need to develop to cater to the future of work.

For FM this will see a shift towards greater Workplace Management as we shift from the reactivity of poorly formed strategies and the reduction of monotonous, low skilled activities through the increase of automation and the use of Artificial Intelligence. But this the shift should not be a deskilling or decline of the industry but as an opportunity for growth and a push towards the coveted top table.

You see, only by letting go of the old attitudes and practices can the true potential and power of the Workplace professional fully is recognised. This will come in the form of more engaged and intellectually stimulated individuals being able to harness the input of their profession to the advantage of the organisation.

The question is FM ready and equipped for this shift?

If not, then we will be standing on the edge, facing oblivion as another specialism swallows up the function. As demand for the user prioritises a more connected, borderless and symbiotic workplace experience, preparation and reaction are required now. If we are, what are we doing? Is FM making the transition to Workplace Management to ensure it couples with its allies in HR, OD and IT to create those ‘trophy’ workspaces? Indeed, is it taking steps to attract, source and retain the best talent for an organisation? Is it ready to go beyond traditional trappings, resistance and attitudes and prepare for a rapidly changing and increasingly demanding future?

Like it or lump change is coming (and is already here) and all those working in the FM sector have a duty to learn, educate, prepare and change for the ultimate prize – survival. Time to switch from the reactive ‘old dependable’ to the proactive and more cerebrally challenging aspects of the workplace.

Love the industry? You have a duty now, for the future.

So, the question is; In the 3 years since this was written, have we seen the change needed to adapt to future business requirements?

It is interesting to note that according to IWFM’s Pay and Prospects Survey 2018/19, almost of a 1/5 of FM’s looking to leave their current role said they wanted to do so because, primarily, of the excessive workloads. This could suggest that they are unable to break away from monotonous tasks that become a huge drain on this vital resource. This is backed up by the 36% that want a new challenge. A possible indicator that routine nature is having a detrimental effect on retaining talent. This could be a huge risk factor to an industry desperate to attract new thinking and skills.

Data enabled decision making, virtual enterprises and human-robot collaboration made up the key trends from the 2017 Global FM Market report. This identification of trends that should enable the FM professional to become more strategic seems somewhat at odds to the narrative of an industry struggling to entice and keep hold of skilled individuals. However, we still seem to be operating with outdated methods, not equipt to support modern organisations. 

People are the heartbeat of any organisation or industry, and it is always a delicate ecosystem when one of its key elements is also it's most vulnerable.  So, it’s over to you. Do we have an industry this is ready for the future or are we risking it’s very being?

Let us know what you think and where, if at all, things need to change.  

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