Workplace Futures – FM: Agent of Change?

(Written by Jo Sutherland)

LR_AI_WPFUT16_The_Crystal_09FEB16_SB-3156Marking a decade since the series began, 2016’s i-FM Workplace Futures conference focused on one specific question: – since FM is essentially about adding value to a business, how can industry leaders unite in order to promote change?

In raising this minefield of a topic, one thing became clear: the world is changing and we must change with it.

This year’s event also tackled a number of other related questions:

  • How will tomorrow’s workplace look?
  • What skills will we need?
  • What are the defining issues?
  • What role will FM play?
  • How can FM and RE contribute towards bettering Britain’s productivity, profitability and wellbeing?

Covering everything from the opportunities and threats of automation, disruptive technologies and energy issues… to work/life blending (‘balance’ is so passé), the National Living Wage and a space’s impact on user experience, the line-up of workplace and FM experts offered delegates the chance to get up close and personal with the industry.

Through the series of discussions, we hopped aboard various trains of thought (including how FM is a bit like rock n roll) and delved into an array of topics, such as big data, smart cities and the value of training.

“Once upon a time…” organisations used to be like great big battleships. With the dawn of a new year and new ways of thinking, businesses have become more like starlings – light and agile, fast and focused. As such, the unanimous hope is that FM and the associated industries will take flight and soar above our somewhat limited perception of the corporate realm into… “a galaxy far, far away…”

(Sorry, there were lots of Star Wars references on the day. A sign, perhaps, that despite the challenges ahead, FMs still possess a sense of humour…).

According to Nigel Stirk, Partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants, FM isn’t a new industry anymore. It’s no longer a temperamental adolescent; it’s an adult. And with its entry into the bigger / scarier wider world, its growth and value have stalled a bit. As such, no more mollycoddling is allowed; we must adapt our efforts and give the industry some tough love if we’re to ensure we fulfill its potential. Buyers are getting more sophisticated, it’s true – but we can see this as an opportunity as opposed to just a challenge because, as Stirk pointed out, ‘FM is increasingly becoming a strategic function’.

FM can, therefore, be a powerful force if it’s weighed up and pointed in the right direction. So use the force, folks, use the force.

(Ok, no more…).

As an industry, we are responsible for an enormous number of people and FM is the glue that pulls the technical, corporate and social infrastructures together.

So what do we need to do….?

We need to take an active role.

We need to be the change we want to see.

We need to make our brains the best they can be.

We need to: Know – Do – Act – Review.

We need to continue having fun and helping each other.

We need to become agents of change.

(Photo by Albion Images)

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