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22 October 2018
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FUTURE FILTON

In April 2015, FM World visited Airbus UK in Filton after completion of a project to re-shape the site for its 4,000 staff. Last month, Jamie Harris spoke to Paul Malfatti, Filton site manager, and James Buchanan, real estate facilities engineer, to discuss the lessons learned.

Airbus 2

13 October 2016 | Jamie Harris


The project, which began to take shape in 2013, included a refurbishment of its Pegasus House building and construction of the 2,400-capacity Barnwell House building. The project was part of a long-term estates masterplan. 


Across the 118-acre site, the FM team closed some of the more remote buildings and optimised the available space, so that employees could be consolidated, and they could provide a more flexible environment, with amenities such as open meeting space and coffee kiosks.


How long did it take for people to get used to their new working environment? 

 JB: At least a year. You see a spike when they move in because it’s exciting; people grab a coffee and use the meeting space. It then tails off, before picking up again. The people who have worked in this space for three years see this as being the norm; now they are looking at what’s next.

What did you learn from the project?

JB: Optimising your space certainly helps to future proof the business. 
PM: By moving the staff centrally, we were able to roll out new services to more staff. For example, we are now setting up coffee delivery to meeting rooms, taking advantage of the popular coffee kiosks we have on site.
Was there anything considered, but discarded?


PM: We looked at recreation facilities, such table tennis tables, partly because we see it in other organisations. But sometimes you can go too far - those things work for tech firms due to their flexibility of working hours, but in our industry we are still driven by the clock, so it’s less practical for us. Our focus needed to demonstrate an increase in workplace productivity. It’s a delicate balance between output and engagement. 


What should I consider when adding a new service?

PM: Don’t just do it. You need to ensure you are catering for all groups in your organisation. Airbus Filton is a centre of competence for wing design; we have engineers and designers here, as well as those who are building the wings - there are different needs.


PM: When you propose something, know the impact it will have. Detail is everything. In a pitching environment, if you don’t know it like the back of your hand it’s easy to be challenged. Have science and hard facts behind your view; you’ve got to demonstrate how you add value.


JB: You’re a business partner, and you must anticipate the customer’s needs before they even know it. We recently went to the board with our space optimisation strategy, showing that this would make us ready for any additional demand for space Airbus might have in the future. If you can demonstrate that you can anticipate demand, you build trust and become more integrated.


PM: You can operate in the background in FM and just deliver. But if you want to add value to the organisation, focus on the business drivers: what are the financial benefits of doing this? You can say people like vending machines, but more importantly, you need to research and put them in the right place, showing how that location will reduce the time spent travelling to the machines and increase time spent at the desk.


How much time goes into this kind of research?

PM: Airbus employs a lot of LEAN methodologies, as part of its engineering background. But the FM teams are educated in those ideas as well. Some might say there’s a lot of detail in how we manage, but we see the fruits of it later on.


JB: Spend a few minutes thinking about the knock on effects further down the road. Take into account where the business is going. If you get HR and other departments engaged, it makes it easier.


Any other takeaways?

PM: With anything you implement, explaining the rationale makes it much easier to digest and accept. Your communications must be on point to ensure you give enough notice of the change in service - a fundamental aspect of change management.


One of the key things that happened is that FM now sits at the top table. We drive strategic direction for the site. We plan and advise where teams will go, rather than wait for them to ask for space.


We looked at recreation facilities, such table tennis tables, partly because we see it in other organisations. But sometimes you can go too far - those things work for tech firms due to their flexibility of working hours, but in our industry we are still driven by the clock, so it’s less practical for us. Our focus needed to demonstrate an increase in workplace productivity. It’s a delicate balance between output and engagement. 


What should I consider when adding a new service?

PM: Don’t just do it. You need to ensure you are catering for all groups in your organisation. Airbus Filton is a centre of competence for wing design; we have engineers and designers here, as well as those who are building the wings - there are different needs.


PM: When you propose something, know the impact it will have. Detail is everything. In a pitching environment, if you don’t know it like the back of your hand it’s easy to be challenged. Have science and hard facts behind your view; you’ve got to demonstrate how you add value.


JB: You’re a business partner, and you must anticipate the customer’s needs before they even know it. We recently went to the board with our space optimisation strategy, showing that this would make us ready for any additional demand for space Airbus might have in the future. If you can demonstrate that you can anticipate demand, you build trust and become more integrated.


PM: You can operate in the background in FM and just deliver. But if you want to add value to the organisation, focus on the business drivers: what are the financial benefits of doing this? You can say people like vending machines, but more importantly, you need to research and put them in the right place, showing how that location will reduce the time spent travelling to the machines and increase time spent at the desk.


How much time goes into this kind of research?

PM: Airbus employs a lot of LEAN methodologies, as part of its engineering background. But the FM teams are educated in those ideas as well. Some might say there’s a lot of detail in how we manage, but we see the fruits of it later on.


JB: Spend a few minutes thinking about the knock on effects further down the road. Take into account where the business is going. If you get HR and other departments engaged, it makes it easier.


Any other takeaways?

PM: With anything you implement, explaining the rationale makes it much easier to digest and accept. Your communications must be on point to ensure you give enough notice of the change in service - a fundamental aspect of change management.


One of the key things that happened is that FM now sits at the top table. We drive strategic direction for the site. We plan and advise where teams will go, rather than wait for them to ask for space.