Photo: Copyright AECOM / Robb Williamson
I was invited to speak at the International Facilities Management Association workplace strategy summit held near Reading, UK in June. This was hosted by Professor Alexi Marmot from University College London and was a followup to a previous summit held at Cornell University in 2012. The attendees were an interesting mix of workplace strategists from around the world (including several previous DEGWers), academics (such as Frank Becker and Wim Pullen), a few architects, as well as a smattering of corporate and government end users. The format was a mix of presentations and panel discussions as well as roundtable exercises. Everyone seemed to know everyone else. The scale was relatively small (around 100 people), which meant that the in-between conversations were often as valuable as the formal discussions.
The big theme seemed to be ‘where is workplace strategy going’? There were several propositions:
- Workplace is becoming consumerized: workplace as a service (WaaS) will replace workplace as designed space. We need to define the requirements for user experience rather than simply enumerate conventional programs of space.
- Workplace is an aspect of Human Resources and as such needs to be considered alongside other organizational rewards, costs, and benefits and in relation to organizational goals for employee behaviors.
- Workplace strategy must consider and ideally measure how the workplace is contributing to health and well-being. Examples would be minimizing the risks of sedentary work styles, and accommodating the different needs of multi-generations.
- Workplace is no longer merely the office but the wider world of co-working and third places. Our methods of briefing and programming need to be re-imagined to take this much more diverse and distributed network of spaces and places into account.
- Workplace strategy is in a sense becoming part of urban strategy: technology has enabled work to happen in less conventional workplace environments, blurring living, working and learning spaces in urban places. We need new approaches for briefing these multi-use and multi-scale environments.
- New responsibilities and managerial concerns arise as workplaces cross the boundaries of private and public spaces and become more like curated experiences or settings for different kinds of events and performances.
- New forms of ownership and procurement of space are emerging in the ‘sharing economy’ that will challenge the old supply chain of developers, landlords, and designers.
Andrew Laing (email@example.com) leads AECOM’s global Strategy Plus practice.