The Workplace Management Framework – Strategic Management

Imagine if you were running your own business delivering excellent workplace experience to your client’s and consumers in the organisation you serve. What would you need to put in place to be successful and to maintain your preferred supplier status? You’d want to develop a strategy, right? Then off the back of that build your organisation to deliver experiences tuned to your organisation.

The Strategic Management section of the Workplace Management Framework is all about defining and clarifying all the things you’d need to put in place to achieve success

Initially it’s concerned with the design and management of innovative workplace experiences that tightly align to the core purpose and drivers of the organisation. Once that’s clarified it’s about defining the organisation, relationships, processes, supply arrangements and management capabilities needed to deliver the experience every day.

To deliver an experience, intimate linkages with business leaders and FM, CRE, IT, HR and supply partners need to be consciously forged to create the alignment with business purpose and deliver the desired joined up ‘experience’ on the ground day after day come rain or shine.

The first big question in Strategic Management is:

‘What are we trying to achieve?’

This is a question that needs intimate dialogue with business leaders at the highest level. This may initially present challenges in gaining sufficient trusted access to encourage leaders to share their thinking on the strategies for their areas of the organisation. The uncertainty of what the future holds, coupled with the commercial sensitivity and sometimes political tension, can mean that there is a reluctance for leaders to share. This may be the first challenge for the Workplace leader keen to move to the new model of Workplace Management. If, however you can articulate why the workplace experience matters to the strategies and drivers of the business this challenge can often be overcome. For some Business Leaders this may challenge their perceptions of what they’ve come to understand is an operational function called FM only indirectly linked to business strategy.

The second big question once there is clarity regarding vision, business goals, drivers and strategy:

‘What ‘workplace experiences’ do we need in order to deliver business success?’

The term ‘workplace experience’ is being bandied around our industry by everyone from interior designers to FM companies often without the depth of thinking that the subject demands. To us, a workplace experience is a multi-faceted, multi-sensory, second by second immersion that leaves an impression in the mind of the workplace ‘consumer’ and delivers on a range of ‘missions’. It’s becoming critically important as we move rapidly to a world where we treat the workplace user as a real ‘consumer’.

As organisations adopt digitization, automation and machine learning many commentators suggest that service and process roles will substantially decline as a % of the overall number of people in an organisation. The logic is that this will lead to a higher percentage of ‘knowledge workers’ in organisations. It is also suggested in some quarters that organisations will have less full-time employees on their books and more contractors who may choose to work with your organisation if they ‘feel like it’. All of this provides a new challenge to the retention of an organisation’s knowledge, much of which is in the heads of these very people.

But recruitment, retention and knowledge maintenance may not be the goals for every organisation. There are many… here are just a few…

  • Functions the organisation needs to be performed
  • Organisational Personality – the unique personality of the organisation.
  • Depict culture and values.
  • Retention of knowledge.
  • Attractiveness to existing/future employees.
  • Agility – the ease of tactical and strategic change.
  • Deploying the best Workplace Science.

These factors need to be fully prioritised and understood in the context of every individual business/organisation and translated meticulously into a ‘workplace experience’ brief that defines the workplace experience required.

To aid this we developed a stepwise process to design and deliver appropriate workplace experiences as part of our research work with Interserve. It starts with the development of a Workplace Experience Brief which defines the missions and requirements that need to be delivered by the workplace experience. Here are the stages.

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The third big question is:

“How should we organise to deliver the experience and the infrastructure to our business?”

Here, we need to work out how we’re going manage and monitor the relationships we have with clients and consumers, work out how we’re going to manage and improve performance, how we’ll track and manage capacity, change, projects, risk, resources and service improvements. In other words we have to deliver the ‘machine’ that will authentically deliver the experience on a day to day basis and deliver on the objectives of senior leaders (our clients).The Workplace Management Framework document and the ‘MAT’ maturity tool provide checklists to help you work out what you need and how well you are doing on each element of the framework.

Chief Workplace Officer

As you start to focus on workplace experiences (as opposed to specific services) and link your infrastructure commitments and services more tightly to the business strategies and drivers for your organisation, you’ll begin to see that the Workplace Management remit can completely evolve to take responsibility for the totality of the ‘workplace experience’ co-ordinating and aligning the contributions of HR, IT, RE and FM to deliver a fully joined up experience. We see the role evolving to take responsibility for the workplace experience and the productive working of the organisation’s community of professionals. This is where the role will evolve into managing the social environment and promoting productive practices and habits extending into re-purposed ‘Wellness’ initiatives covering social events, nutrition, hydration, sleep, exercise, scent, air quality, noise and distraction and ‘frictionless’ work and IT.

We see the emergence of a new role, that of Chief Workplace Officer which takes overall responsibility for the ‘workplace experience’; co-ordinating the multi-faceted strands of FM, IT, and HR to best match business goals with agreed appropriate workplace experiences.

To do this job we’ll need to develop a new breed of leaders that are first and foremost business leaders but with the technical and interpersonal capability to bring together all the parties needed to define and deliver an effective workplace experience. This individual will also need to build the skill level within the workplace infrastructure support groups to achieve the realisation of the vision and employ specialist designers and consultants to build and supplement in-house skills to include the latest research and best practices.

It will be a specific responsibility of the Chief Workplace Officer that efficient monitoring of resources is a matter of routine to ensure efficient use is made of space and that workers’ satisfaction is maintained at a high level. The role will place the incumbent as an agent of change and experience in change management is an important attribute. Other characteristics for the job holder might include:

  • Confidence to operate at senior level in complex organisations.
  • Excellent communication and influencing skills.
  • Sustained passion in enthusing others to drive out distractions that get in the way of productivity.
  • Understands strategic business management, sales, strategic marketing, logistics, quality, operations.
  • Understands technology, space, property, design, behavioural transition, service management, quality management, capacity management, project management and performance management.
  • Understands his/her organisations external markets.
  • Up to date on research concerning productivity, work, workplace, workplace management.
  • Can articulate the linkage between strategic business performance and the workplace management.
  • Eternally inquisitive.

The Strategic Management section of the Workplace Management Framework is key to building a Workplace Management organisation that delivers high value to the organisation. The Strategic Management section of the Framework isn’t just about defining the workplace experience though, it’s also about putting in place an organisational model, capabilities and processes that will authentically deliver, monitor, improve and manage the experience.

In the next blog I will cover the important management role of Client Relationship Management.