Opening up The Workplace Conversation

The Workplace Conversation

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By Mark Eltringham

Edition 5 – May 2015 Page 11

Tags: workplace • facilities • HR

While many people have long expressed their regret at the silos that exist between the key workplace professions,it’s only been a year since the first public soundings of the ideas behind a new initiative to eradicate them once and for all.At last year’s ThinkFM conference the heads of the UK’s main professional bodies for HR and FM announced that the British Institute of Facilities Management would be collaborating with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development to explore how both communities could share knowledge on the changing workplace. It marked the end of a conference which began with a talk by Peter Cheese,the CEO of the CIPD, who remarked that both professions were in the business of getting the most of people in the working environment and why it is vital that those tasked with managing these key resources within organisations need to work together to maximise the value of its workforce.

Earlier this year, the rest
details were announced
of the rest initiative to grow from this joint commitment.
 In February,the BIFM and CIPD launched a joint project to examine the evolution of the working environment and the future of work.The Workplace Conversation project builds on the agreement made between the two bodies to collaborate on ways the ‘custodians of two of the most important drivers of business performance – people and place’ could build bridges between the two disciplines.

The idea behind The Workplace Conversation is powerful and simple. Its first stage was to invite FM and HR professionals,as well as anyone with an interest in the future of the workplace, to participate at the Workplace Conversation website.The 3 month initial stage of the project,now at an end,invited participants to take part in online conversations to ‘draw insights,ideas and practical solutions from individuals across a range of countries. Participants will be set specific tasks throughout the duration; the outcome of which will lead to a user-submitted idea,selected by the community,being voted as the best idea to ‘create better workplaces in the future’. We are now entering the second stage when the results of this process are examined and reported on.The initial ndings will be reported in the next issue of this journal but there is still the chance to be involved online. Many of the initial contributions to the project can be found at https:// and updates are regularly available by following the hashtag #twpc on Twitter.The insights from the project are already profound and interesting even before the initial report is published.

Two of the people driving the project are Chris Kane of Chris Kane Associates and Chris Moriarty who is Head of Insight and Corporate A airs at BIFM. Chris Kane has a longstanding interest in the idea of bridging the traditional and increasingly irrelevant divide between workplace professionals. Writing in this journal last year, he said:

‘The world of work is changing rapidly and profoundly in a way that we haven’t seen since the industrial revolution. Yet even as we stand at a momentous, game-changing inflexion point, the 21st century workplace strategy sector is still dithering about whether to join in the revolution. They are like the industrial mill owners of 19th century England who adopted a ‘make do and mend’ approach to business and failed to invest in new technology only to be forced out of business by foreign competitors who had invested in radical new, state of the art technology.

Unless the workplace strategy sector embraces change and builds bridges between the ‘people’ side of the business and the ‘place’ side with other workplace specialists, their industry will become as dead as a dodo. Workplace strategy needs to become more than just a tool to improve efficiency and thereby reduce property costs. It has to change its mind-set and embrace the notion that they exist not to manage cost centres, but to drive value for the whole business by creating a physical workplace that enables the next generation workforce to work in an agile productive way. Creating communities of common interest will do more to generate value than building showpiece warehouses to house departmental silos’ W&P



…unless the workplace strategy sector embraces change and builds bridges between the ‘people’ side of the business and the ‘place’ side, their industry will become as dead as a

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