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ThinkFM 2016: Can workplace PLUG the productivity gap?


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09 June 2016 | FM World Team

Polly Plunket- Checkemian and Tim Oldman



The launch of a project that seeks to ensure business leaders fully understand the contribution of workplace to organisational performance was the last event of ThinkFM 2016, and arguably its highlight.

Consultant Polly Plunket-Checkemian and Leesman Index founder Tim Oldman took to the stage to introduce The Stoddart Review, a project named in honour of Chris Stoddart, who passed away in 2014 just a few short years after becoming BIFM’s 2011 Facilities Manager of the Year.

A former colleague Polly Plunket-Checkemian introduced The Stoddart Review project as one “with an unashamedly higher purpose; to address what property and facilites industries have so far failed to do.”

We can all talk about the economic cost of property, said Plunket-Checkemian, “but what we still can’t articulate is how the workplace contributes to organisations’ required outcomes.

“The Stoddart Review exists for one purpose,” she continued; “to transform the opinion of UK boards, taking them from viewing property and workplace as a balance liability to seeing it as a key performance lever in the same way that IT and people are viewed.

“It’s going to be drawn from deep research and industry opinion, it’s purpose to push, probe, provoke and present a clealy articulated view to the c-suite, those CEO and CFOs and other interested parties who we need to work together with, as well as to the wider industry.

“Those who knew Chris knew he was a man of few words; he spoke only when something needed to be heard. But something vital has to be heard now, and a light needs to be shone.”

The group behind the review comprises founding partner organisations BIFM, the Crown Estate and Cushman & Wakefield; Polly Plunket-Checkemian and Joanna Lloyd-Davies, who will lead on the project, are inviting business leaders and workplace experts to get involved in the project.

The aim of the review

The starting premise behind The Stoddart Review is that there is a burning need to address the UK’s low productivity rate in comparison with other G7 countries, and that one key aspect of that is too few organisations placing enough strategic importance on the working environment as a key driver of organisational performance.

The aim is for The Stoddart Review to be a periodical publication, with the first Stoddart Review report published in the last quarter of this year. This first edition will seek to engage with business leaders and national media to “challenge and prompt a greater alignment and incorporation of workplace”.

In the immediate term, an initial review project is set to take place this summer, bringing in responses from a number of research activities including in-depth interviews with business leaders and an open forum element to which FM industry experts and academics will be invited to share their views.


Detail in the data

Leesman Index, an organisation that surveys employees in the UK and globally on workplace effectiveness, is supporting the project by sharing the research data that it has collected since the company began surveying in 2010. Founder Tim Oldman told attendees that “productivity equals performance equals outputs, which in theory equals commercial success.”

But he warned that in the process of seeking to measure the workplace’s contribution to organisaional productivity, “some tricky stuff needs to be debated”. 

“The global reach of our index since its launch in 2010 gives us great scope, hence our invitation, said Oldman, who cited his firm’s ‘killer fact’ - that from its database of more than 160,000 workplace user surveys, just 54% say that ‘the design of my workplace enables me to work productively.’

After all, continued Oldman, “what is the workplace for? Surely it’s there to enable employees to work productively.

“We hold Chris’s legacy in our hands,” concluded Oldman. “If you knew him, were mentored by him or simply worked with him, that legacy is also in your hands. I’m imploring you to get involved.”

Review partners are now looking for more organisations to support the project. Individuals wishing to find out more should email research@bifm.org.uk 

In Summary

The Stoddart Review will give voice and raise awareness on key issues around the FM profession

We still can’t articulate how the workplace contributes to required outcomes - this project seeks to rectify that situation


Research informing the review - and how to get involved

A series of in-depth interviews with business leaders. An exploration into the views, practices and beliefs from business leaders to capture strategic opinion and current practices.

In an open forum, the industry’s advisors, experts and academics will be invited to present their views, no matter how big or small. ‘Open views’ sessions will be for anyone and everyone with a view on the topic and who wish to influence the work by getting their ideas in. 

Leesman is supporting The Stoddart Review with data from the Leesman Index, the world’s largest database on workplace effectiveness. This independent data source will bolster the project and provide an underpinning of statistical insights.

Chris Stoddart (Credit: Akin Falope)
Credit: Akin Falope

Chris Stoddart: The man who inspired the review

Those who knew Chris Stoddart will appreciate why such a project with such high ideals is so aptly named. Polly Plunket-Checkemian spoke of having the privilege of having Chris as a colleague when she was head of property and asset management for Cushman & Wakefield, working with him during his last two tenures as general manager of Heron Tower and as head of facilities management for the Crown Estate’s largest single asset, Regent Street.

“Chris was extraordinary for a number of reasons,” she said. “He was equally experienced in construction, corporate real estate and FM, which gave him a unique cross-industry perspective. He was a man who respected analytics and fact, offering concise and insightful advice.

“He also had a selfless attitude to people and was utterly passionate about this industry’s talent. He reached down to bring people up and stepped up at industry level to make sure that we were heard at the highest echelons. This unique combination of characteristics gave us the genesis of the idea that we’re presenting here today.”

Chris Stoddart also served as a much-missed member of FM World’s editorial advisory board.