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London

Is a wiki the answer to better workplace design?

FEATURE ARTICLE


HR and facilities managers come together to brainstorm new ways of working

by Grace Lewis, People Management

HR’s involvement with workplace design has traditionally been sporadic – and that needs to change, according to facilities management experts, who are working with their HR peers to usher in what they hope will be a new age of collaboration.
 
While the CIPD and BIFM (the professional body for facilities management) have been working together on a range of projects – including an online competition to crowd-source ideas on the future of the workplace – individual organisations told this month’s Think FM conference how they are also putting people at the heart of workplace change.​
 
Huge shifts are accelerating the process. By 2020, workers will rely on six devices to complete their work, but will occupy just two-thirds of a desk in the process, according to research from software company Citrix.
 
Yet UK employment and longevity continues to rise, and businesses are turning to real estate to cope with the changes, says a report from property management firm Cushman & Wakefield: occupied office floor space rose 44 per cent in London last year.
 
In the world of workplace design, it’s not the size that matters but what you do with it, says Trevor Alldridge, head of workplace consultancy​ at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL): “Focusing purely on space and cost can easily lead to missed chances to improve productivity, such as smarter, more innovative working,” he says. JLL’s own research suggests that 74 per cent of employees believe thinking, talking and brainstorming create the most value for an organisation, yet most offices aren’t equipped to enable collaborative, remote and flexible working.
 
The answer, according to Dan Pilling, is to allow every employee to have a say in the design of their working environment. His idea of creating a ‘Workplace Wiki’ was voted top of the CIPD and BIFM’s online Workplace Conversation project.
 
“Creating a common ground hosted by BIFM and CIPD, but with content generated by members, would enable strands of FM/HR/IT/design/culture to co-exist, and be cross-referenced to enable active workplace professionals with a problem to quickly diagnose it using the tools available,” he wrote in his winning entry.
 
Businesses are already showing the way. When the Guardian Media Group made the decision to move more than 1,700 staff out of its offices in central London to a single location nearby, Alison Hall, director of change, told Think FM the collaborative work of HR, facilities and IT in creating a space – “beyond just bricks and mortar” – enabled the strategic business move from daily newspaper to global brand.