Smart spaces & places

A blog brought to you by Chris Kane 

Who are the enablers of today’s smart workspaces and what does the future hold for them?  Recently, I contributed to a discussion forum on the value of Facility Management (FM). As the sole spokesperson for the consumer, I had the opportunity to express my views in relation to the key questions facing this industry sector.  Amid stimulating debate a broad spectrum of views were tabled.  Hopefully this will inspire a forward-thinking FM evangelist to take the lead in turning words into actions.  As those of us gathered around the table acknowledged – we’re all custodians of the built environment and we must strive to leave some form of sustainable legacy for the generations that follow.

The forum raised key concerns on the issue of recognition and how the FM sector can demonstrate value to the rest of the business.  Clearly, there was a lot of angst in the room, highlighting a lack of self-confidence in this sector. Focus areas for personal development were identified such as the need to develop compelling dialogue with business leaders and adopt leadership capabilities.

For many practitioners in this field there is a strong feeling that the sector needs to have a seat on the Board. This ambition is accompanied by an anxious search for the “holy grail” – a magic element that will enable the sector to define its value to business. Our discussion focused on the development of a strategic perspective alongside the delivery of robust tactical solutions.  We need to understand that most business leaders agonise about creativity, innovation and talent. How can the FM sector help to resolve these challenges?   I suggest we need to think beyond reducing costs to delivering added-value services and expertise which enable and support the business.  FM must shift from a purely building centric focus to a wider, people- focused role, which supports the work anywhere and anytime ethic.

I expressed the view that alignment with the business is key.  We need to place adequate emphasis on outcomes and business benefits as opposed to just thinking about outputs.  We need to stop focusing solely on efficiency and make “effectiveness” a key priority.  Fundamentally, there is a need to shift the FM value proposition as a support function to become an enabler of productivity.   FM must apply strategic insight to empower organisations to achieve real competitive advantage.

We, as a group, agreed that the nature of business is changing – and we need to be ready for the challenges that this will present for the sector.  We need a proactive roadmap   to prepare for the role that FM will play in supporting business in the future.  A key success factor will be the ability to demonstrate value to stakeholders, we must raise our game by applying strategic vision to anticipate the leadership challenges of the future, whatever they may be……