The Marriage of Facilities Management and IT
In a race to attract and retain the best employees, companies are enticing candidates with perks and benefits such as e-work arrangements and innovative workspaces. Today’s facility managers must keep these expectations in mind as they work to create the most effective, efficient and economical environment for their organizations.
For all the advances in clinical healthcare delivery, some physical spaces, including offices, on-call rooms, and team rooms have changed little over the decades and maybe historical artifacts rather than optimally productive work areas. As healthcare becomes more team-based, collaborative and mobile—and as younger professionals take their place in hospitals and ambulatory care centers—the need and opportunity for more effective design alternatives is now.
Thinking across organizations of all sizes, how can space be used more effectively, efficiently, and economically?
Focus on flexible design
As more of the workforce participates in e-work programs, companies are looking for their office spaces to be efficient yet also offer a great employee experience. At Boston Children’sHospital, new offices are being designed using a variety of options—offices with demountable modular walls, open workstations, open collaborative spaces, closed collaborative spaces (e.g., huddle rooms, conference rooms), phone call space and hoteling space—and include important amenities such as kitchens and dining areas. The refreshed spaces are designed to be open and welcoming, using more effective lighting and lighter toned selections for furniture and features. If the location permits, spaces bring in more natural light by shifting offices located along the perimeter wall to the core of the building and using lower walls on workstations. Furthermore, art and signage are purposeful for wayfinding and integrate images of children as a reminder of the people we serve.
Facility management plays a strategic leadership role in collaborating across key business functions
There is no one size fits all model. Workspaces must strike a balance depending on the program, the generation of worker and their requirements. Millennials and Gen X workers have different needs concerning work environments, and we know that millennials will comprise the majority of the workforce in the coming years. It’s clearly an opportunity and a challenge to offer different work models and have the IT infrastructure and technology solutions in place to support all workers. Spaces not only need to be adaptable to the individual user, but they need to adhere to office space standards and have the flexibility to support different interactions.
Managing change will be a challenge, but not changing with the workforce will be a far greater one to overcome.
Commit to collaboration
Facility management plays a strategic leadership role in collaborating across key business functions— human resources, legal, and IT—to address the needs of today’s current workforce and standardize facilities.
Facility management and IT departments must work together to form a close alliance from day one of these initiatives to share ideas, discuss goals, identify opportunities and challenges, and ensure the project is moving forward appropriately.
As these innovative and forward thinking spaces need to be designed to utilize technology, IT’s expertise and knowledge about solutions currently being utilized within the hospital, those being considered, and others that are available in the market will help guide decision making and enhance the experience for employees.
Integrate new technologies
As companies move toward better utilized, right-sized spaces, they need to simultaneously enable employees to access the right tools and thrive in the new environment. Beyond the work that needs to be done to create the best physical workspaces, companies should think through the mobile office experience ahead of time and ensure the right technologies are available to employees. Cloud-based solutions, conferencing software, virtual desktops, bookable hoteling, and collaborative spaces are all new technologies to consider.
Technology needs to be seamless, intuitive and integrated across the enterprise. A helpful first step in achieving that goal is to find opportunities to pilot new technologies first to get buy-in. Exposing a whole cadre of employees to a new technology allows them to work through challenges and become advocates during the rollout. The IT group at Boston Children’s was a natural fit to pilot a new conferencing software. IT’sregular use and positive feedback about the software’s ease of use, made the overall adoption far easier and greater.
Facility managers play a key role in driving organizational change as companies address today’s workplace trends and the evolving needs of employees. They must do so with a collaborative approach, leveraging expertise from across the enterprise to ensure the work environment if cost-effective and efficient, uses technology effectively, engages employees and maximizes utilization of the space.