A key obstacle to solving workplace problems posed by the current pandemic is that medical advice has become highly politicised, listeners to IWFM’s latest webinar were told.
Although early FM and workspace responses concentrated on creating a Covid-secure environment, said guest speaker Ian Ellison, co-founder and director of workplace consultancy 3Edges, he argued that assuming there is a vaccine to be found, this is not the future of work.
The 17th IWFM webinar in partnership with Ricoh, was entitled ‘Lockdown lessons to empower workplace change’, took place on 5 August.
Presented by Peter Brogan, head of research and insight at IWFM, the webinar also featured Simone Fenton-Jarvis, workplace services consultancy development director at Ricoh.
Ellison, whose background is in consultancy, research and teaching, explained how 3edges helps companies make business decisions and change involving workspace. He is the author of guidance notes representing the partnership between the IWFM and Ricoh, and described his role as “applying academic thinking to commercial challenges”.
Regarding the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, Ian discussed how the IWFM/Ricoh guidance notes, although they were not written especially for the situation, could offer helpful insight.
How, he asked, did we want to be remembered for our response to the crisis? While professional advice is unlikely to be neutral, and will usually have some agenda, Ellison’s suggestions for a response to the ‘greatest workplace experiment never designed’ were to avoid extremes, and think holistically about workplace and people decisions.
FM had to take advantage of the opportunity for change, he said. ‘All of a sudden, we've got this opportunity to rethink flexibility of workplaces, because of lockdown.
“Assuming there's going to be a vaccine, you know – Covid secure – it's not the future of work… if Covid secure is the future of work, then they are going to see some very sterile, lifeless environments out there, and they aren't the ones that are going to produce the sort of community that the evidence is starting to suggest what future workplaces are needed for – so this is a challenge.”
“They [catalysts] might burn bright, and they might burn fast but they don't last. So what I'm trying to say here is there's a real opportunity for facilities management, for workplace professionals, to really think about their contribution and to do something about it, because the challenge is that – irrespective of order and talk about futures and brave new worlds.”
He discussed the IWFM’s Ofqual-accredited workplace leadership programme, a 12-month part-time course leading to a Level 6 Diploma in Workplace Leadership, Insight and Change. The unit-based course has a range of modules and is connected to seven CPD courses.
Fenton-Jarvis discussed how Ricoh’s approach to a business-led work environment uses technology to work with people – her watchwords are ‘Engage, Enable, Evolve’, and she examined the challenges and positives of working from home as well as methods of creating a ‘conscious workplace’ for the needs of people and business.
‘Lockdown lessons to empower workplace change’ can be seen here.