FM:Systems was a proud sponsor of the 2014 Workplace Strategy Summit at the Wokefield Park Conference Centre in Berkshire, England June 8-10. I am pleased to say I was one of the 100 attendees who had the honor of hearing the leading experts in the fields of facility management and real estate speak about the most innovative concepts that are emerging in workplace strategy.

This year’s summit was named, “Workplace Strategy Summit 2014: Innovation on the Edge” and had presenters and attendees from all over the globe discussing issues related to work and workplace in the 21st century.

General Session
General Session
Sunday Night Reception
Sunday Night Reception
Roundtable Discussions
Roundtable Discussions

Conference presentations kicked off with a keynote address by Dr. Frankin Becker, discussing how organizations devise and implement workplace strategies to enable them to meet business challenges and thrive in a dynamic, competitive marketplace.

A lot of companies are re-designing their workspaces to align with the changing workforce—demographics, expectations, technology—but what do we really know about how these workspaces affect human performance? We don’t, there is very little research that measures productivity over time. There is little actual performance data but instead lots of anecdotes, stories, and hype about how to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace.

Dr. Franklin Becker stated that managers need to get in the mindset of testing what works and what doesn’t, not guessing. An example of this is Yahoo’s CEO, Marissa Mayer, who made a statement that all workers must come into the office each day to ensure productivity, with no evidence to back up her reasoning.

Workplace design needs to incorporate design and technology with activity-based planning, which consists of fewer offices, and a free-address system where individuals can choose where they work each day, and a healthy workplace, having daylight, food and beverage, and exercise.

The key to success is to evaluate what processes work, and understand why. Evaluate what doesn’t work, and improve those processes. Companies in today’s changing workforce must keep up with the trends in order to succeed.

Another presentation discussed workplace trends worldwide; what’s common throughout all countries? What’s common in specific regions? A study that I found interesting was conducted on third place working, venues that are neither the office nor the home. It consisted of over 15,000 individuals from 60 companies and its results aligned with today’s workplace trends:

  • People wish to work in collaborative areas
  • People get stimulated to work by having others around them
  • People preferred to work in spaces other than their home (they want their homes to be left for family time)

The workplace needs to be designed for what really matters for employees, it needs to be designed to align with the needs and wants of employees to help them be productive and get their jobs done efficiently.

A speaker from Sweden said that branding the workplace, both internally and externally, is important because it is the only steady environment individuals have, they spend the majority of their waken time at work and it is critical for them to be happy. To help keep their employees satisfied, companies provide exceptional service, such as hiring butlers for their staff to run their errands, such as taking their clothes to the dry cleaners, picking up groceries, etc. They also have restaurant food on hand, good coffee, gym memberships, and yoga classes that take place during working hours—all which lead to higher job and environmental satisfaction.

The one thing I heard again and again throughout the summit is that companies need to provide an employee-focused workplace. Companies need to keep up with the changing workforce by providing employees with a desirable, healthy working environment and it will lead them to success.