Meet The Panel
Head of Workplace, EMCOR UK
Head of FM, Brent Council
Head of FM, CEG
Head of Facilities, Richmond Pharmacology
National HydroCare Manager, Zip
Head of FM, London Borough of Camden
Strategic Technology Director, Mitie
At the roundtable, it was stated that the last few years have seen a perspective shift; “the definition of wellbeing in 2019 was making employees productive, but now it’s about keeping them well.”
It was agreed that a focus on wellbeing in 2022 means giving both the physical and mental health of staff due consideration, and being willing to change and adapt. Our participants emphasised that there is no blanket strategy that can work across every type of person and workplace. FMs “need to do the analysis” and “figure out what people want”.
Environmental, Social, and Governance factors (ESG): the FM’s core remit to achieve compliance remains of huge importance. Our roundtable concluded that everything from fire safety management, to sustainability in the supply chain, to wellness days fell under ESG’s broad umbrella.
Participants of the roundtable highlighted the increasing influence of FMs due to ESG, suggesting that compliance is necessary across sectors and disciplines, and “puts FM in a place it wasn’t in before. If you can use ESG to leverage places on boards then it’s to everyone’s advantage.”
Workplaces are now competing with the comforts of home working; it’s the challenge of FMs to give people a reason, beyond obligation, to return to the office. Our panel of senior FMs detailed the methods they’re exploring to improve the workplace offering.
It was established that the aim isn’t to return to how things were done before, but to bring a new purpose to the workplace instead. Collaborative spaces, wellbeing days, social events, catering facilities and technology were just a few of the ideas discussed.
Research has suggested that working from home has led to many workers neglecting their nutrition and hydration. Providing sustenance at work is an opportunity for FMs to create an environment superior and more attractive than the desk at home.
Zip’s Daniel Johnson noted the trend of “the provision of food and drink” being used to entice workers back to the office, and access to chilled water (while ensuring the taps were sanitised) was a requirement for clients organising return to work days.
Hybrid working has become the dominant style of work for desk-based jobs. Determining what hybrid working means for different workplaces was first on the agenda – which, to summarise, depends on each organisation’s style of leadership and hovered around 2-3 days at home – and how hybrid working will affect FMs.
Managing workplace sustenance was seen as a challenging aspect of hybrid working - the need for hot and cold drinks was deemed a universal necessity, but other provisions were situational.
From apps that monitor employee hydration to using data to cut carbon, top FMs are increasingly leaning on technology to improve wellbeing and sustainability in the workplace. Simi Gandhi-Whitaker revealed that Mitie has been utilising data and analytics to cut carbon by better monitoring of assets.
Incorporating technology into a wider strategy will be increasingly important moving forward, and is only set to improve. As Zip’s Johnson highlighted, “This technology drive is coming across all industries and the more people feel a need for it, the more suppliers and FMs are going to have to gear their strategy towards it; so we need to deliver it, otherwise we’re not going to progress.”
Again, our participants emphasised the role of FMs in making the workplace more attractive to staff, “We’ve got to improve the level of amenities; we’re providing biophilic solutions, such as green walls to give people a green space. We see it as the only way we’ll succeed in the future by being a bit more radical.”
Investment without strategy – and vice versa – is a potential stumbling block for FMs. Our panellists felt that their Boards were “more focused than ever before on investing” on staff wellbeing, but FMs must work to utilise funds correctly.
As a FM provider, said Gandhi-Whitaker, “investment is key, but it’s also having a clear strategy on what we are doing, what are the reasons and what are the perceived outcomes, and it is here that data and analytics give you the facts around whether you’re saving energy or getting people back into the workplace – so not just doing it for the sake of it.”
Concluding the discussion, Ian Baker of EMCOR summed up the challenge: “We know that 90 per cent of an organisation’s cost is people, so if you spend even a tiny amount in improving their performance and productivity that ROI speaks for itself and for me wellbeing is the one area that has to be the most authentic or everyone will see through it and think it’s a tick box exercise.”
The full report
At the roundtable, it was stated that the last few years have seen a perspective shift; “the definition of wellbeing in 2019 was making employees productive, but now it’s about keeping them well.”Read Online
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