8 December 2016 | Martin Read
Autumn seems to be the season for offices and office work to come under the microscope.
A slew of conferences, exhibitions and seminars see specialists from across disciplines stepping up to podiums and explaining what the latest research means for the knowledge work environment. Of course, it's always good to hear about the benefits of new comms technologies, working methodologies and equipment. But finding time to get to these events is ever more difficult for the typical facilities manager.
Which makes it problematic when even the experts have to crowbar caveats into their presentations. During the recent Workplace Week convention, workplace strategist Jan Johnson spoke about how non-physical factors such as stress and social cohesion can be affected by the physical aspects of the working environment. But crucially, she also said, "there's a lot of subjectivity to this. It's open to the individual's interpretation of things."
Johnson had many useful things to say on the topic, but it's refreshing to hear her explain just how subjective the process of optimising the workplace is.
What can we take from this? FMs, with their ability to understand not just the departments but the single individuals for whom they work, are key to providing an ever-evolving solution to workplace productivity. Because the solution is indeed 'ever-evolving'; big-ticket office upgrade projects come and go, but an FM's constant awareness of individuals and what makes them 'tick' is far more important to those individuals' wellbeing and performance.
This autumn is set to climax with the Stoddart Review, to which BIFM has contributed. The review is set to explain how effective workplaces should be seen not as a cost but an answer to the UK's productivity crisis. I can't help but feel that FMs' ability to put each individual first is a big part of any genuine solution to the great British productivity equation.
Finally, a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! The last FM World Daily newsletter of 2016 is published on Wednesday 21st December, the first of 2017 on Wednesday 4th January. If you're taking a break, have a good one.
Martin Read is editor of FM World