FM Trends reshaping Office Design
The fact that there is a strong correlation between workplace design and workplace management is often ignored or not taken in account. Going forward, the new age working pattern would require both of them to be in sync to provide a healthy and technologically advanced work environment. Sapna Srivastava gives an overview of the new trends.
Office layouts with assigned seats are a thing of the past. Today’s flexible workplaces are looking at technologies to manage constantly shifting office layouts. Facility management (FM) services too are overhaul current processes to keep up with shift. However, there remains a struggle between the design and facility management stream on working in tandem to provide a functional and effective workplace.
The ultimate aim of workplace design is to create a well-designed, efficient and practical office. But sometimes, the practicality of daily maintenance of an aesthetically pleasing office is forgotten. Facility management professionals more often than not are not consulted during the design phase.
The Key Design Tends
- Wellness: More and more organizations are now focusing on improving the wellness of facilities by incorporating low VOC interior furnishings, ergonomic furniture, natural lighting, clean air, noise reduction, walking spaces and non-toxic cleaning agents among others.
- Flexibility: The next phase of open workspace trend is integrated mixed-use offices. More companies are seeking collaborative and activity-based workspaces to enhance employee/customer/client perceptions.
- Green Rating: Green certified buildings are favoured by businesses that become a differentiator for them from their competitors.
The architects and designers while following the trends sometimes design in isolation forgetting the fact of maintenance of their creation during its lifecycle. There is an invisible yet a critical link between a good design and efficient facilities management. The designers as well as the facility managers need to be in sync on their understanding of
- The complexities of design and management
- The core elements of the office – the people, the building and technology
- The details relating to product life cycle issues, legislation, change management and the environment, maintenance.
There is a clear onus on everybody involved in the design and management of workplaces to understand how the design process works and what their own contribution should be including the organisation that should have a clear vision of it.
New Work Environments
Fully open office spaces or array of cubicles are now a thing of the past. The new offices are a combination of open office plan, small-group collaboration space; private rooms for thinking and board rooms for meetings. These changes are challenging the property managers to manage these different spaces within a company. From being able to reserve conference rooms, to knowing which desks are occupied or empty, facility management strategies are adjusting to the transformation.
Data: Most facility managers are relying on data to make informed decisions and better run facility operations. They are focusing on KPIs that map to specific requirements like improving tenant experience or reducing response times to work orders. No matter the goal, these key metrics that organizations are now focused on help make more
Security: This aspect concerns not only the physical security of the building but also the data and IT infrastructure security. Mostly, facility management are responsible for implementing processes to protect facility and occupants. They need to be in full control of the building management system to know exactly what software, hardware and apps are being used, and what each vendor’s security processes and protocols are upfront.
Mobility: Increasing facility management is relying on mobile devices to complete work orders, inspections and preventive maintenance. Now with Smart Building technology and mobile combined, teams can go one step further. For example, the closest building engineer getting a notification that a certain floor dropped below the desired temperature before a tenant complains.
Facility Management Trends
The definition of facilities management (FM) is continuously evolving with the changing behaviours and patterns of working. And, the facilities managers are expected to cultivate an atmosphere that enhances productivity, collaboration and produce measurable ROI. To do that, they need to keep up with the latest workplace trends and technology.
Employee Experience: The employee experience is the sum of all interactions an employee has during his/her office hours. The workplace is a tangible representation of the company culture and the employee experience is most influenced by the physical surroundings. More and more facility managers are now providing mobile apps or desktop dashboards to employees for keeping them connected with facilities department. As per Steelcase Global Report: Engagement and the Global Workplace, there is a direct correlation between satisfaction with the workplace and engagement level.
Metrics Defining FM: Real estate accounts for a large percentage of any company’s expenses. In fact, it’s the second most costly aspect of running a business, just behind personnel. In order to reduce real estate expenses, the facilities manager must have insight into the total square footage of the spaces owned or leased by the company, the lease agreement terms, the cost per square foot and the value of each space. Moreover, the fluctuation of occupancy needs to be monitored for space utilization. Activity-based working and office hoteling decrease the quantity of workspace needed. Calculating space utilization includes assessing space capacity, vacancy rate, cost of space per employee and total annual facility costs, among other data.
Creating Employee Centric-Environment: To create an amiable workplace, FM implements technologies like, sensor connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) along with integrated workplace management system (IWMS). The IWMS collects workplace and workforce data such as inventory levels, asset usage and location, occupancy and more to help design workspaces that support a positive employee experience.. For instance, FM team can easily adjust temperature and lighting based on room occupancy, quickly complete service requests and decrease downtime of important assets and equipment or ensure adequate number of workspaces to facilitate various activities
In the coming years, we’ll see technology driving the workspace design. The focus will shift to aligning technology with the design aspect and in turn enabling the facility management functions. This will also mean that the facilities managers and the designers would share an understanding of how each element of the office design functions and relates to the other elements.
The need is to engage the facility management team early in the design of the workplace to utilize their knowledge and experience to create the best possible office that remains so for many years to come. The facilities managers must be able to interpret the client brief and assist designers to create a workplace that can serve the needs of the workplace users and understand the design process to ensure the best possible results.