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WHAT DOES WORKPLACE MEAN TO ME?

FM practitioners weigh in on the BIFM’s plans to add ‘workplace’ to the institute’s title

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05 April 2018 | FM World team

newsdesk@fm-world.co.uk



Bill Hancox

The word ‘workplace’ better reflects the general role we perform as ‘FM’ professionals, as it more accurately captures the many other components that ultimately contribute to the creation of the optimal working environment.


There is little doubt in my mind that boundaries between some of these function are generally blurred. However, it is a fact that there is a genuine need, and an indisputable business benefit, in bringing people, technology and the workplace closer together. 


The proposed introduction of ‘workplace’ will help focus attention and conversations beyond the traditional built environment aspect of our role, shifting perceptions from ‘cost centre to ‘value centre’ and influencing wider thinking about performance and productivity.


Like many of us, I have grown up with the term FM. And while in many ways it reflects a large component of what we do, it can also be perceived as somewhat limiting. Within higher education (HE) the term isn’t universally adopted, with many universities and colleges using more traditional nomenclature such as estates management or campus management. 


This is a difficult one within HE, as despite unprecedented change taking place with an increased focus on the fee-paying customer (students), the reality is that the terms we have used to date (FM included) are not recognised by our main customers and facilities users – with students particularly preferring the more granular operational nomenclature e.g. maintenance, security, cleaners etc.


Nomenclature aside, the increasingly collaborative working partnerships between FM, IT, HR etc. within HE is recognised as beneficial in terms of both the employee and customer experience, which in many ways reinforces the foundation of what the BIFM are aiming to promote and achieve.


From both a personal and a business perspective, the transition from ‘FM’ to ‘WFM’ is positive and ultimately a more sustainable and more strategic approach to the future development of our profession. I also think chartered status will have a positive impact on the profession as a whole, helping to establish and embed the above.


Many of the higher education COO functions include the estates, FM, IT and HR functions – and of course we can fully appreciate the rationale behind this. 


We are seeing more higher education providers establishing the role of chief operating officer, and although the title is very traditional in and in many respects unhelpful in my mind, it does demonstrate an acknowledgement (a conscious one I hope) that large complex organisations such as universities are at least recognising the vitally important ‘workplace’ collaboration agenda.


Bill Hancox, director of FM, Edge Hill University



Geoff Prudence

The move to put ‘workplace’ to the fore as part of BIFM’s identity can also act as an opportunity for technical FMs. Workplace performance is directly influenced by the design, operation and maintenance of lighting, heating, cooling, and thermal comfort. The drive towards smart buildings, big data and artificial/automated intelligence provides further opportunities.


Geoff Prudence, C.Eng FCIBSE FRICS FBIFM MIoD



Kursty Groves

The term ‘workplace’ means ‘place of work’ to most organisations and roles outside of HR and FM. In my experience, workplace means cultural environment to HR, and physical space to FM and designers. To others in an organisation it can vary.


In other industries, the term ‘workplace’ is usually used to denote the intangible aspects of a work environment, regardless of whether it’s an office or not. The shop floor is a workplace. An abattoir is a workplace. A ward is a workplace.


As for ‘workplace’ being part of the title of the BIFM? It’s about time! I’ve spent the past 10 years encouraging FMs to become ‘facilitators of experience’, rather than managers of facilities.


But equally, I’ve been rallying HR communities to embrace space as a strategic culture tool. Incorporating workplace into the BIFM title is a great step in the right direction. 


The resistance will come from ‘old school’ FMs, and there may also be some confusion from CIPD or other HR bodies. But one thing’s for sure, it will spark a long-needed conversation!


Kursty Groves, adviser and advocate for inspiring work environments



Andrew Hulbert

We should consider the generational gap in the FM sector. BIFM has widely reported (through its annual Pay & Prospects survey – ed.) that half of those practising in the sector are more than 45 years old. 


That may be where a “cultural gap” occurs – a classic Millennials vs Generation X scenario that is written about across many sectors. My take is that we have some incredible pioneers of FM who have worked to bring FM up from the bogs’n’boiler view; those who have been working in the profession for more than 25 years, effectively defining and establishing FM as an industry sector.


They’ve managed to professionalise FM and make it increasingly a career of choice. But there now stands an opportunity for the millennials to take it forward and shape what the next 25 years looks like. 


The opportunity here is that it is millennials that these newly designed workspaces are looking to attract – so if service delivery can be defined by millennials, for millennials, then it puts the FM sector in a strong position to strategically align themselves.”


Andrew Hulbert, managing director, Pareto Facilities Management Ltd