In Case You Missed It: 4 Key Learnings from EFMC 2017
EFMC, the European Facility Management Conference, was held in Madrid this year from April 25th to 27th. The theme this year was “Consolidating the Global Scope of Facility Management”, and looked at how to improve energy management, ways to support women in facility management and the soft skills needed to run a successful office. While the conference covered facility management ranging across different sectors—looking at not only offices, but also residential buildings and airports—there were a number of takeaways that office managers can learn from. Here are some key discussions that took place at EFMC and what they say about the future of office facility management.
Energy management on a district scale
One of the issues discussed at EFMC was energy management, and how sustainability plays into an FM’s role. The talk discussed ways that, in addition to managing energy on an individual building level (e.g. keeping careful watch on how much energy your office is using and being sure to use smart, energy-efficient technology), energy management can also be looked at from a district perspective. This means that buildings, companies and residential units in a given area would be collectively responsible for ensuring that they are not overusing energy and contributing to waste. This process, according to EFMC speaker Yehong Li from the Technical University of Madrid, would involve key district stakeholders who would track energy-usage data from across the entire district. This system would make larger buildings more accountable to their neighbourhood as a whole, and hopefully inspire facility managers to implement stronger measures to reduce waste.
For facility managers, this may mean meeting with key stakeholders in the district and figuring out how their office’s energy management plays into a larger energy-efficient plan. It may fall on FMs to relay key values and goals to their employees and to implement new standards for how the office will manage their resources. FMs should examine which office processes can be automated to reduce their environmental impact, such as office heating and lighting.
Women in facility management
One roundtable at the conference discussed the role of women in facility management. It was moderated by Renske van der Heide, the new chair for the Practice Network Group and Managing Director at the Netherlands company TOPdesk. The women discussed how the field of facility management, though typically dominated by men, has equal opportunities for women. It stressed the importance of being confident in delegating tasks in order to run an efficient space, and also noted the people-oriented skills that women bring to the workplace.
For FMs wanting to make their workplace more inclusive, this may involve establishing a mentorship program where senior facility managers provide professional support to newer employees.
If you’re an FM, consider establishing professional development meetings with junior employees (of all genders) and continuously discussing opportunities for advancement or growth. You should also consider implementing diversity hiring practices that ensure a certain amount of women are considered for FM roles. Drawing on the expertise of people of different genders, backgrounds and educations will allow your workplace to benefit from a variety of skill sets, and inevitably lead to a stronger team.
Building blocks of productivity
In 2010, Leesman, a private company that develops surveys to help companies measure workplace effectiveness, launched the first independent global workplace performance assessment, the Leesman Index Survey. At EFMC, Tim Oldman, the CEO of Leesman, talked about how the test has been adopted by leading organizations to measure the effectiveness of their offices. To date, the survey has gathered feedback from over 225,000 employees, which helps Leesman determine the standards of a strong, productive workplace. The survey has given each office tested a functionality and effectiveness score and allows offices to see where they measure up against the industry standard.
If you’re an FM managing a workspace, you may want to see how your company measures up by surveying your staff.
After all, the key idea behind the Leesman Index Survey is that your employees matter, and that part of running an office is ensuring you are supporting them in every way possible. Surveys can be applied at numerous stages in the lifecycle of a workplace—you can use it annually, to see how your office has improved year to year, or as a way to establish a case for a major office change. By implementing a survey before and after an office move or design change, you can gather valuable data on how your decisions as FM influence the satisfaction and well-being of your staff.
Taking “peopleware” into account
One of the keynote speakers at EFMC was Peter Brown, the Managing Director at Fischer Brown. Brown shared his vision for facility management in his speech “The Challenge of Facilities Management in the 2020s—from Hardware to Software to… Peopleware”. In his presentation, he looked at the conundrum of a “people business”, and noted how FMs often focus on the cost of hardware, software and security, rather than the value that their company actually provides to people. By focusing on excellent communication, clear branding and the happiness of their customers, companies that build strategic tools for facility managers are more likely to succeed.
Brown’s talk suggests that facility management needs to take a 360 degree approach to the customer, by focusing on helping them to better communicate with their users or clients. Calling this category “peopleware”, Brown says this mentality will help facility managers have a competitive edge in the industry. Investing in people can start small—it might just mean implementing a clear-cut internal communications plan, so that all requests are addressed and responded to.
Whether or not you attended EFMC, you can learn from these conference topics and takeaways. As the industry adapts to become more sustainable, inclusive and people-focused, facility managers will need to find ways to ensure their practices and technologies follow suite. By running an office that reflects the core values of their company, FMs can ensure that their guiding values are creating a more efficient and communicative workplace.
Learn more about how OfficeSpace software helps facility managers run more efficient offices.
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