Corporate Culture & Productivity

Collaboration in the workplace: IT, HR, and FM teams

Karina Wright
November 4th, 2021

Collaboration in the workplace has never been more important, as companies embrace hybrid and flexible working like never before. 

Even before the pandemic, the traditionally strict walls between IT, HR, and facilities management (FM) teams were breaking down. 

These departments now have to work closely together if they want to accomplish their shared common goals. This can include both improving employee productivity and employee experience in an increasingly dynamic environment. Companies and employees alike benefit from successful collaboration between these teams. 

Successful collaboration in the workplace happens when IT, HR, and FM teams work together to offer clear policies, solutions, and technology to create an effective and engaging workspace. This can help create a productive company culture and sense of purpose for colleagues with different backgrounds and specialties. 

In the following article, we’ll explore team and workplace collaboration between IT, HR, and FM, focusing on four key benefits it offers. 

Facility Management Trends

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What is collaboration and how should it be used in the workplace?

At its simplest, collaboration means working together on a shared goal, making it a key ingredient in the success of any organization. 

Collaborating by brainstorming and problem-solving together helps employees share ideas, build trust, and accomplish team goals. But this cooperation can only really happen with good tools and an environment that makes workflow and project management easy. 

A collaborative workplace therefore demands FMs work with both IT and HR teams to ensure they are creating efficient office organization. Not to mention creating workplace strategies that actually benefit employees.

Before the pandemic, these teams were often unnecessarily and sometimes detrimentally siloed. This is despite their shared objective of creating happier, more productive, and more collaborative environments. 

But now that work is becoming increasingly hybrid, remote, and flexible, it’s critical that IT, HR, and FM teams work together on the bigger picture. This ensures all employees have the tools they need, when and where they need them, along with clear policies and guidance for their use. 

This task is made much easier when all three teams have access to an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS). And especially when they understand and appreciate the skill sets each brings to the work table. 

workplace collaboration

Why is collaboration in the workplace important?

Intuitively, we all understand that workplace collaboration is critical to a company’s long term success. And in fact, 86% of employees and business leaders cite a lack of collaboration as the top reason for workplace failures.

Naturally, organizations want co-workers to collaborate on projects. This is why workplace practices like office neighborhoods that improve team collaboration are rising in popularity. 

Workers clearly need to collaborate with each other, but so do the decision-making teams that support them. 

In other words, IT, HR, and FM teams also need to work together where their tasks overlap in real time. That’s because their tasks—managing technology infrastructure, managing employees, and managing the workplace— all require similar methodologies and share similar goals.

The more team members from these departments share information and skill sets, the more they can support each other, provide back-up when needed, and improve employee engagement. Collaborating in this way can also help avoid miscommunications and misallocation of resources.

Ultimately, the more fluidly these departments can collaborate, the more fluid a workplace they can create. And the more collaborative work they can foster.

Specifically, when it comes to collaboration between IT, HR, and FM teams, working closely together can offer four key benefits to an organization. These benefits include easier hybrid setups, increased sustainability, cost savings, and the effective roll out of new hardware and software.

1. Collaboration to embrace the hybrid office

When FMs work closely with their counterparts in both IT and HR, they can create better hybrid offices. 

It’s clear that hybrid work is fueling the return to the office, and we can expect it to be the norm going forward. 

This hybrid work has made the roles and responsibilities of FMs more technical, strategic, and critical. 

It has also made collaboration with IT and HR teams essential, in order to equally support in-office and remote teams. 

Take hot desking, for example. In this method for using the office, in-office workers use desk booking software to claim whichever desk is available. 

FMs are typically responsible for setting up hot desking and other hybrid work solutions like reverse hoteling and activity-based working (ABW). However, they need cooperation from their IT and HR colleagues to do this well. 

In these situations, FMs need good IT cooperation to set up workstations and preferably cloud-based software solutions and apps. This allows employees to easily and securely move from desk to desk—or even office to office—as needed. 

They also need IT staff to ensure employees plugging into different workstations don’t accidentally plug into insecure networks. An insecure network can put the entire building automation system (BAS) at risk. 

IT staff can also work with FMs to ensure remote workers can safely and effectively work from home or on the road. This can include better tools for video conferencing and file sharing. This makes teamwork easy, no matter how dispersed a team may be. 

In short, FMs can’t set up an effective hybrid solution without IT support.

Employee buy-in

And they won’t be able to manage it well without employee buy-in. This requires clear policies and support from HR as well. 

We know that most employees enjoy their freedom and are clamoring for more flexibility at work. 

That said, hybrid and remote work can also be scary, unwieldy, and difficult to implement. 

FMs should therefore work closely with HR to determine the best work environment type for their office. This may include surveying employees on their preferences. 

Finally, according to OfficeSpace CEO David Cocchiara “one thing we’re seeing in conversations with clients is communication with employees is key in the new, flexible workplace. They need to make sure all employees are informed on how, what, when, and why.”

That’s why smart FMs will also work hand-in-hand with HR. This way, they can create strict hybrid work policies and clear goals, and to communicate them clearly–and regularly—with staff.  

2. Collaboration to increase sustainability

Given concerns surrounding climate change, sustainability is now a top priority for many organizations. 

Sustainable workplaces can improve brand loyalty, improve retention and help attract new talent, especially from younger generations. It can even improve operating profits by up to 60%

Of course, sustainability in the workplace is a complex, long-term goal that requires collaboration from all teams that manage it.

Moving to hybrid work, which can reduce commute time and office space requirements, will undoubtedly offset emissions for many of the companies that embrace it. 

But lasting sustainability often comes from addressing real power hogs like cooling infrastructure and HVAC systems. 

As such, FMs may want to create smart buildings and bring in other sustainability measures. This could include things like cloud migrations and more environmentally-friendly lighting options. 

These steps can only be taken when FMs are working closely with their IT counterparts. 

As with creating hybrid policies, the HR department can also smooth transitions and help roll out sustainability practices in a way that excites and motivates employees as well. 

collaboration benefits

3. Cost savings from collaboration

While both should be actively working to collect data and using it to improve their organizations, IT, HR, and FM teams are concerned with different aspects of their workspace. As such, each department has unique insight into the organization and how it operates. When these teams collaborate, they can share knowledge to streamline processes and equipment purchases. 

For example, while FMs are often responsible for supplier contracts, HR may be the ones communicating with staff regarding their preferences. 

So an FM might contract with one kitchen supplier, only to find out later from HR that employees are asking for different food options

But when these departments work together—or even streamline into one department—they can eliminate wasteful initiatives like, in this case, having to cancel food orders or use multiple suppliers. 

Streamlining in this way saves both time and money.  

Similarly, smart buildings don’t just lower a building’s carbon footprint. They can also dramatically reduce operating costs. FMs may therefore want to bring the Internet of Things (IoT) into the mix. Again, this is best while working closely with IT. 

4. Rolling out new software and hardware together

Many pieces of hardware and software overlap between FM and IT, again requiring collaboration between these departments.

For example, a vulnerable BAS can threaten the entire corporate IT network, yet BAS systems are typically maintained by an outside contractor. Like Cybersecurity Analyst and Consultant David Brunsdon of Dark Ivy Consulting explains, it’s often the responsibility of FMs, working along with IT, to bring in security consultants to shore up security here. FMs can also arrange for IT staff to get the training they need to maintain these systems safely and securely. 

So even though BAS networks may seem to be in the ‘technical’ realm, FMs need to work hand-in-hand with IT to roll out features to increase security.

Similarly, one of the primary duties of FMs is to plan seating and manage office moves. These are best managed using move management software, which can simplify both one-off seat changes and large-scale relocations. 

But people are often attached to ‘their’ desk, moving can be scary, and who sits next to whom matters. That’s why FMs are wise to involve HR managers in any move. This is because they are often more in tune with employees and more able to effectively communicate with them.  

In short, the more these departments work together, the more they’ll be able to roll out sustainable solutions. This will support better communication and collaboration in the long run. 

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How do you demonstrate collaboration in a workplace? 

Collaboration in the workplace is demonstrated by IT, HR, and FM teams working in tandem to create more effective workplaces and policies. This supports employees in a variety of settings and ways.

According to OfficeSpace VP of Product and Strategy Luke Anderson, “companies are trying to strike a balance between getting flexibility that works for their business model, and allowing for collaboration, camaraderie, and team building for their employees.”

When the right teams work together, they can reduce overlap, pool talent and responsibilities, and share knowledge across departments and across their organization. 

OfficeSpace can help organizations realize these benefits of effective workplace collaboration, all from one easy-to-use platform. Request a demo to learn more.  

Photos: Jason Goodman, Mapbox, Dylan Gillis