13 February 2017 | Helen Houssart
Better use of space and collaborative working are becoming the status quo. We know that most people don't like change - the idea that they are being asked to work from different desks or spaces during the day can be alienating.
Clients and their teams often voice concerns to us about staff treatment of the office by asking: "Would they do that at home?" We've all heard of people throwing cups half full of coffee into standard bins or standing on desks to Sellotape Christmas decorations to that new ceiling you've just installed.
Some of this is just bad behaviour, but many users that we talk to describe a feeling of disconnection from their workplace - "Why should I care about this space when I no longer feel comfortable here?" and "What's the point of me reporting this problem when I won't be sat here tomorrow?" There is less sense of shared ownership in the office - the fun has gone.
There is a role here for HR, but in property and FM we need to be asking a more challenging question: "Why do you do that in the office?"
Once FM leads get a better understanding of employees' frustrations, they are also perfectly placed to work with the business, designers and consultants to introduce solutions to make staff feel they are being listened to.
If it's part of a major transformation project then you can help inform the concept and detailed design.
If you're already working in new types of space, you can still make a difference. If you must reinforce a clear desk policy, give people local storage for their daily working papers so they don't have to re-file everything constantly. Engage teams in the branding themes that are local to them or incorporate simple display solutions into the office, rather than just banning whiteboards.
Otherwise, we'll be fighting a losing battle both to keep our space well maintained and our teams' work appreciated.
Helen Houssart is director of workplace change at Transition PM