The annual IFMA World Workplace conference exhibits the multifaceted field of facility management, spanning topics from maintenance and operations to workplace strategies, and offers a comprehensive picture of new facility management trends and the scope of products and services offered by FM companies. Melissa Marsh had the opportunity to join three panels, speaking about the everyday life of the workplace and how it relates to technology and occupancy strategies.
The first talk dove into the topic of Next Gen Workers, and brought two significant workplace strategy researchers, Melissa Marsh and Kay Sargent, to a shared space. Together, they discussed the need for companies to be able to adapt their spaces for the new generation. Marsh explained that this generation has new expectations—just like in their daily lives, employees want to be mobile, and prefer to choose where they work within their offices. Employees expect their office experience to be much the same as their regular interactions as customers in daily life. These expectations require new flexibility on the part of FM, and the best workplaces are those that actively engage these desires and emphasize company culture. These workplaces set up a symbiotic relationship between employees and FM, whereby employees improve facilities by providing information, and the employee satisfaction and effectiveness is improved by providing more flexible and adaptable workplaces. Many companies have been employing the simple fix of letting workers change workstations in order to feel comfortable and “own” their space. This allows employee experience to shape the workplace, as opposed to predefined workplace design and furniture.
The second talk was “Adaptive FM: From Clouds to Crowds,” presented by Melissa Marsh and Nancy Sanquist. Sanquist and Marsh showed how the incorporation of multiple technologies into the workplace is creating a digital business era, wherein workplace and business are both reliant upon and intertwined with digital capabilities. This era brings is transforming the ways in which people do and experience their work. Changes in how people and organizations flexibly use space, as well as the technology employees are using for design, construction and planning, are increasingly apparent. With the digital business era comes the opportunity to improve buildings, spaces, and communities by developing healthier, happier and more productive spaces. Marsh used four case studies—Box, Mozilla, WeWork and Fjord—to show why technology is an essential part of workplace strategy.
The talks by Melissa Marsh, Nancy Sanquist, and Kay Sargent spoke to what an exciting moment it is to be in the facility management field. The vast changes ushered in by the new generation are driving undeniable transformation in buildings and spaces, and provoking a technological workplace revolution.