“We should embrace a workplace revolution because it has purpose whereas evolution is random. If we leave the workplace to evolve after we've had this seismic shift, the future of the workplace will remain random and uncertain.”
Ian Baker, head of workplace at Emcor UK
The theme of the IWFM Conference 2021 was 'Emerging stronger'. A variety of speakers tackled megatrends and essential topics affecting the world of work. Here is what Ian Baker, head of workplace at Emcor UK, had to say about FM's role in employee wellbeing and organisational sustainability.
Workplace and facilities management professional have two core focus points as the world moves into a new work experience:
- Deliver on employers’ promises of an enhanced workplace experience; and
- Ensure that climate action, sustainability, energy use and responsible consumption are fundamental considerations amidst the return to the workplace.
On the first point, the challenge is deciphering the contradictory and conflicting viewpoints espoused in mainstream media. “When the daily bombardment starts to shape our views, we really need to start asking some serious questions,” Baker says. Working from home is a great option for some but not for all and certainly not as a long-term situation.
“We need to grasp this opportunity to look at how we structure the world of work, but we should do so diligently and with patience because if we follow the headlines and allow them to shape the future for us, we'll be inviting more long term uncertainty as the future of work evolves.”
On the point of sustainability and climate action, workplace and facilities management professionals need to answer two essential questions:
- Do we need better buildings?
- Should we be thinking beyond buildings? (Baker says that ‘beyond buildings’ refers to the work that will happen outside of the traditional building.)
The buildings we use will also need to address important concerns about clean air and safety from viruses through enhanced ventilation. So there will be a huge focus on how workplace and facilities management professionals can contribute to workplace wellbeing.
To succeed on both challenges: – creating a destination workplace and championing the sustainability and wellbeing agendas – organisations and the broader industry needs to set goals and agree on a collective purpose. “The goals we set ourselves give us purpose, whereas the goals we've achieved give us meaning,” Baker explains.
“We are our own barriers to change. We need to choose to change.”
We need a revolution not evolution in the future of work and workplace. Evolution is down to chance but revolution has intention and purpose driving it.
Themes to ponder
- To what extent does increased concerns over health and safety (the need for improved ventilation systems, enhanced cleaning regimes, and single use catering options) challenge the goal for sustainable solutions?
- What does it mean, in practical terms, to create a destination office?
- How is an FM’s responsibility for mitigating climate change affected when we consider requirements ‘beyond the building’?