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Marc Watkins, Business Development Director at Service Works Global, is featured in the November Issue of PFM, discussing how great FM services contribute towards a great employee experience. Read more on pages 20-21. 

It’s widely recognised that a happy employee is a productive employee. A 2019 study conducted by researchers from the University of Oxford and Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, found that happy workers are 13% more productive – and one of the contributing factors to that happiness is, without question, being in surroundings that are comfortable, attractive and meet all their needs.

That’s why efficient facilities management is absolutely vital to the employee experience – and because of that, to productivity itself. “For organisations trying to improve employee experience, the focus on facilities has never been more important,” says Marc Watkins, Business Development Director at SWG, a global provider of CAFM and BIM software. “Making sure workspaces are optimised for employee needs, creating more collaborative spaces, and confirming assets are running as they should all helps to make the workplace a happy and productive space.”

One solution to this, Marc suggests, is a technological one. “Implementing workplace software can make it easy for employees to plan their in-office days,” he says. “If a hybrid working policy such as hot desking is introduced, staff need to feel confident that when they turn up at work, they’ll have access to everything they need.

“Self-service functionality as part of a wider CAFM or space management software helps staff feel empowered to manage their own desk/room bookings,” he adds. “Employees can book desks in advance, select their desk location depending on their needs and preferences and feel confident that when they are in the office, they will be able to carry out their duties in a productive manner. This technology allows in-house FM teams to focus on the employee-experience side of work.”

Smart Tech

Smart technology, too, is key to an efficiently-run building, and one that replicates the home-from-home experience that many workers expect from the office – especially if they adjusted to remote working, and the comforts of home, during the pandemic. In a world where data is king, Steve McGregor, managing director at DMA Group, says this, too, is crucial to delivering an optimised employee experience. “Streamlining, simplifying and automating business processes in FM delivery benefits everyone in the workplace,” he says. “Our experience at DMA Group confirms it’s best when everyone is using the same live, transparent, end-to-end data that can be seen anywhere, at any time and on any device. Live information drives better, quicker decisions for customer-side FM’s who are challenged with doing more, with less, yet better.”

DMA Group has developed its own service management system platform, called BiO®, to drive greater efficiency and repeatedly deliver better customer service. “Everyone involved knows what’s going on every moment of every day and there’s only one version of the truth,” Steve says. “Because we drive our customers intervention and involvement by exception, their BiO® dashboard includes filtered calls-to-action, so they only deal with the important things that require their time, and have a direct impact on statutory compliance, productivity and workplace experience.”

Steve acknowledges that “most customers probably don’t care how [a better customer and workplace experience] is achieved, they just want and need better and smart technology applications and highly better motivated and more productive people on both sides are the enabler.” And indeed, while technology has a major role to play in delivering a great employee experience, it’s not the only factor.

Getting the basics right

“Emphasis on attracting employees back into the office and providing a more efficient, more comfortable experience, has cast the role of FM service excellence into the spotlight,” says Tim Hysom, Operations Director, Anabas. “Employees are less tolerant now of office snags such as the coffee machine not working, AV equipment out of service or the temperature not being right. They want their day to be efficient so they can come together with their team, collaborate, and get things done.”

Tim points out that this is where the front-of-house skill set of FM comes into play. “FM is a people-centric role, and facilities teams need to provide an unwavering service that creates a quality workplace experience that employees choose to be in,” he explains. “For a flawless service, there needs to be direct and transparent lines of communication between clients, employees, and FM teams. FM teams are in a powerful position to influence change and build better. They’re on the ground, they’re the eyes and ears. They often have a deep understanding not only of the corporate building they work in, but also the people that occupy it. This makes FM pivotal in cultivating workplace experiences that are so exceptional they exceed the comforts and benefits of working at home.”

Although a recent survey of global CEOs predicted a full return-to-office by 2026, many business experts are skeptical that this will happen – and many businesses are already calculating that hybrid working is here to stay and downsizing to smaller
premises. This isn’t just SMEs – banking giant HSBC has left Canary Wharf, with a press release stating that their new City of London address is “…A modern office environment, well-connected to major transport links and amenities. The building is being designed to promote wellbeing and constructed to best-in-class sustainability standards, using predominantly repurposed materials.”

Downsizing

A recent survey by real estate consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton found that approximately 27% of employers with fewer than fifty employees said they were planning to downsize their office space this year. After all, with business rates and commercial rent costs soaring, cutting costs on rent and utility bills frees up money that can be better spent elsewhere – plus, companies are looking for buildings that deliver a higher-quality employee experience than an out-dated, draughty
office. Sustainability and the Net Zero journey are factors too, as the HSBC press release indicates, and this is driven by employees as much as any other stakeholders; around 70% of employees and job seekers say a sustainability programme makes an employer more attractive, according to research by Forbes.

Transitioning to new premises can be jarring for employees, but FM is there to smooth the process and ensure it uplifts rather than negatively impacts the employee experience. “Efficient relocation services for businesses can reduce downtime and ensure a smooth transition between workspaces,” says Rachel Houghton, MD, Business Moves Group. “We complete full audits of everyone’s desk, down to the side they have their mouse on. This way, we can set up the new desks to each team member’s preference, creating a sense of familiarity. The technical services team also ensure all technology is functioning and ready to go when team come into the new space, so there are no issues for the IT department on day one.”

“All these elements help create a productive workspace for employees in their new office,” she concludes. After all, as Tim Hysom points out, it’s FM’s job to keep up with the evolution of the workplace. “FMs need to be agile and have their finger on the pulse of changing trends,” he says. “One thing that won’t change though is the need for the employee experience to be memorable and first-class, from the moment an employee enters the building to when they log off at the end of the day.”

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