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From FM to workplace, Dereck Dziva takes us on his journey of change within his organisation, noting a shift in perception from others and increased professional empowerment.

Workplace Illustration ©Shutterstock

04 June 2018 | Dereck Dziva

My role is ensuring that our workplace delivers an environment that enables staff to be at their best in terms of productivity and well-being. 

I have worked as an FM professional for the past eight years and, like many of my peers, I fell into FM by being at the right place and time. 

I was promoted to the role of office services manager after starting out as a logistics coordinator and later a project manager. As office services manager, I was responsible for soft services and worked closely with a property manager in charge of hard services. He later became my mentor, having been an FM professional for over 20 years. 

Project leader

Three years into my role, I was given the chance to lead a relocation project that evolved into a workplace transformation programme. I prepared for this challenge by consuming copious quantities of BIFM CPD products, attending conferences, workshops and networking with experienced peers. 

Aside from me, the programme comprised IT and HR project managers, a structure that later helped shape my current role. This formed the blueprint of an effective workplace experience for which I am responsible.

A new role for an agile workplace

Soon after the transformation, it became clear that a new role was required to ensure that the benefits of agile working were not short-lived. At that point my job title and scope changed. 

In addition to being responsible for hard services, I was tasked with owning the workplace experience for staff and visitors. This meant not only making a few operational changes, for example, how we cleaned and delivered our front-of-house services, but also shifting the mindset and culture of our department. 

We were empowered by leadership that enabled us to make operational decisions we deemed beneficial to all staff. 

Part of the agile working philosophy in our organisation is that individual staff do not own workspaces; rather we share them and the workplace team are custodians.  

Shifting perceptions

This has had a profound impact on how I am perceived within the organisation. Whereas in the past, colleagues only associated us with activities such as cleaning and maintenance, we are now seen as being responsible for all facets of the workplace. For example, my previous line manager, the VP of people, gave me an objective of implementing employee well-being initiatives.

When my job title and scope changed, it resulted in FM owning the workplace experience ahead of HR and IT. This enhanced my profile and also opened doors for me externally – I am often asked to speak at events and forums. 

I have also found that people outside FM immediately get what I do from my job title. I think this is mainly to do with its relatedness to what most people actually do – namely, go to work. I am rarely asked the ‘what is workplace?’ question as much as I used to be asked about facilities. 

Workplace expert

I was recently involved in discussions internally on workplace branding and one thing was clear from the outset; I was recognised as the workplace expert and, as a result, asked to lead the project notwithstanding that I am not a brand expert. This would not have happened before. 

Even before my job title changed, it was obvious to some in our organisation that FM plays a critical role in staff well-being and productivity. 

When we were still at our old office, a member of staff complained to me that she and others found their section of the office dull and uninspiring and asked if anything could be done. My team made a few changes to the lighting and paintwork. She returned not only to thank us, but also to say the changes were making a positive difference to how she felt and performed her work. 

My role is about enablement. I am empowered to initiate and execute projects that benefit the business by enabling its most vital resource – its people. 

Dereck Dziva is workplace lead manager at the Association of Internal Certified Professional Accountants