Not long ago, when office workers were expected to work at the office full-time, the human resources (HR), facility management (FM), and information technology (IT) teams could function just fine in silos. Too cold? Talk to maintenance. No internet? Call IT. Struggling to fill a vacant position? Go see HR. Hybrid work changed all of that by exposing the overlaps between people, workspace and technology. For example, we now understand that factors as disparate as indoor air quality (IAQ) and wi-fi signal strength can affect employee productivity and morale.
In a world where hybrid work is a more common work arrangement, this interplay between the HR, FM, and IT functions presents both opportunities and challenges. On one hand, it allows organizations to reduce costs while at the same time supporting environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives and bolstering employee retention and recruitment. On the other, making the most of that opportunity requires HR, FM, and IT to leave their silos and figure out how to work together.
An organization’s success in navigating this new landscape will come down to how well these three essential teams collaborate. Here are three areas where they can focus efforts:
Lean into the Digital Workplace
Younger generations coming into the workforce expect technology to work as reliably and intuitively as consumer technology. Solutions that fall short of these expectations can become a serious drag on motivation and job satisfaction. IT can help optimize the hybrid workplace by ensuring that meeting rooms are equipped with high-quality, dependable and user-friendly audio and video capabilities.
Next, it’s up to facility managers to implement room booking and space management programs that reflect the varying capabilities and capacities in each room. That will allow employees to easily find and reserve the room or space that fits their needs, when they need it. FMs can also equip these spaces with sensors and equipment that optimize energy efficiency and IAQ, while automatically adjusting lighting and ventilation based on changes in occupancy.
For HR, the importance of embracing the digital workplace goes beyond just avoiding the aggravation of a double-booked room or a missing A/V cable. In a world where more and more business interactions happen in the virtual realm, innovative technologies can have a big impact on the effectiveness of team building, ideation, co-creation, and upskilling initiatives. They can also influence people’s perception of your organization, affecting everything from business development to talent acquisition.
Don’t Keep Hybrid Work Policies a Secret
When management and HR work together to formulate guidelines around when and how often employees should be in the office, it’s imperative that HR takes the extra step of sharing that information with their counterparts in FM and IT. In order to help optimize the hybrid workplace, these teams need to know details like:
- How often are employees expected to be in the office?
- Will the number of workers in the office be consistent every day, or will there be spikes or troughs throughout the week or on certain dates in a month?
- Does the policy vary by department or work roles?
Having visibility of these guidelines, and being made aware of any temporary or permanent changes to them, will help FMs better plan for space utilization and resource needs. This information can also be crucial when planning maintenance or other activities that can impact the availability of space or resources.
Keeping IT in the loop about an organization’s hybrid work rules is important in maintaining software licensing compliance and enabling desk-hotelling solutions. IT can also implement people management technology to help HR manage the workforce in a potentially chaotic hybrid work environment.
Security is Paramount in Facilities Management
It used to be that the security concerns of both IT and FM stopped at the perimeter of their facilities. For IT, at least, that’s no longer the case. And while the security footprint of facility managers may not have changed, they rely more and more on technology to keep buildings and their occupants safe.
It’s up to the IT and FM teams to implement technology solutions like workspace visitor management systems, sensor and camera systems, and intrusion alarms. But HR has a role to play here, too, by ensuring that their counterparts are made aware of individuals who should not be permitted to the premises and implementing a reliable system for notifying FM in advance of anticipated visitors and special events.
Security is, of course, also an HR issue, as employees who are anxious about the safety of themselves or their belongings are unlikely to be happy or productive.
Finally, in today’s perimeter-less hybrid workplace, implementing and maintaining robust asset management and cybercrime defense that works seamlessly between remote, mobile, and in-office settings should be a top priority for every facet of an organization, not just IT, HR, and FM. But FM does have a responsibility to keep assets physically secure, while HR should take steps to communicate to employees the importance of following rules and provide training that will help avoid data breaches and thwart cyberattacks.
Collaboration Works Best When Supported by Hybrid Workplace Data
IT, HR, and FM teams have come together to address workplace issues in the past, but hybrid work and new technologies are blurring the lines between these functions and necessitating closer and more sustained cooperation. The right data, and systems to help draw insights from that information and make it actionable, can greatly enhance the effectiveness of this digital workplace triumvirate.