Tag Archives: corporate culture

WORKTECH12 by @UNWIRED May 15/16 NEW YORK (TIME & LIFE Building)

Hi all – my friend Isabel Dewhurst-Marks , Conference Director at UNWIRED, has asked me to spread the word about WORKTECH12 which is taking place in New York on 15th/16th May….only 2 weeks time! It is being held at the wonderful TIME and LIFE building. If you can get a day or two out of the office, this is the place to be, for sure. I’m going to tell you why, below….

On the 15th (0900-12.30) there are several Masterclasses. The main Conference is on the following day, 16th May.

There are no less than 26 speakers at the Conference, many of whom are global workplace industry ‘names’, including the CEO of Cordless Group (owners of UNWIRED), Philip Ross , author and workplace strategist Cindy Froggatt , and one of the ‘founding fathers’ of Facility Planning & Management, Professor Frank Becker.

But what sets WORKTECH aside from many other events is the array of ‘non-workplace’ interesting people that Philip, Isabel and the UNWIRED team are able to amass in one place at one time!

At WORKTECH’12 this month, you will have the opportunity to hear first-hand from some of the most interesting writers of recent years, as follows:

Alone Together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other

Sherry Turkle will talk about her book Alone Together , the result of MIT technology and society specialist Turkle’s nearly fifteen-year exploration of our lives on the digital terrain. Based on interviews with hundreds of children and adults, it describes new, unsettling relationships between friends, lovers, parents, and children, and new instabilities in how we understand privacy and community, intimacy and solitude.

This is a real insight into a real world problem, that all of us have experienced in some way. With more people working (and being managed) remotely, working in global teams, it is easy to forget what I have called an analogue life – what you need as a human, which is not online.

The WORKTECH12 programme says this:

Technology proposes itself an architect of our intimacies. These days, technology offers us substitutes for direct face-to-face connection with people in a world of machine-mediated relationships on networked devices. As we instant message, e-mail, text, and Twitter, technology redraws the boundaries between intimacy and solitude.

Science Fiction and the Future of Work

Brian David Johnson , Chief Futurist at Intel, is the author of Screen Future, described as:

a technical book about people, technology, and the economics that are shaping the evolution of entertainment. Blending social and computer sciences, the book provides a vision for what happens after convergence and what we need to do to get there

You can read more about Intel’s work and SCREEN FUTURE at this link

This is what WORKTECH12 says in introduction to Brian’s talk:

The future is not set; it is not a fixed destination in time.

The future is manufactured every day by the actions of people all over the world. As a futurist, Brian David Johnson believes it is incredibly important that we all become active participants in the future. We must ask ourselves what kind of world we want to live and work in. Where do we want to go? What should we avoid? What scares us?

We have not even reached lunchbreak yet, in the description that I have tried to outline above!!

I am going to try my very best to get across to New York for this event, even if its a quick fly in/fly out trip….rarely do you get the chance to be amongst such a great group of workplace thinkers.

I hope you can also attend. Feel free to contact Isabel: Isabel.marks@unwired.eu.com , or +4420 8977 8920

regards, Paul

paul.carder@occupiersjournal.com / @occupiers

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Comparative study of cultures / Hofstede dimensions

A very brief blog, to make you (and me!) aware of the work of father and son team, Geert (and the younger Gert Van) Hofstede, around the comparative study of cultures. They have a downloadable file of “matrix of dimension scores” plus other papers, books and material: http://www.geerthofstede.nl/research–vsm.aspx

As ‘culture’ often comes up in the discussion of workplaces around the world, I thought this would be useful to share.

And thankyou to Maarten Kas ( http://www.linkedin.com/in/maartenkas ) for sharing this on the Linkedin Group “The European Centre for Facility Management”. It followed a question asked by Peter de Winter, Snr Programme Director for Workplace Innovation at Philips ( http://www.linkedin.com/pub/peter-de-winter/5/492/476 )

Peter asked:

Who has experience with including the cultural aspect in global office design? We apply a ‘one size fits all’ approach for our international and country HQ’s. Works quite well. Ideas for improvement?

The OPN’s 31st workshop will be at PwC More London, on Tues 7 Feb 2012

By Paul Bartlett, Chairman, Office Productivity Network

The Office Productivity Network’s next event will be on Tuesday, 7 February 2012, at PwC’s More London new offices which display “understated excellence”. This will be the 31st OPN productivity best practice Workshop, all of which have shown exemplar workspaces which are delivering productive environments for occupants. Previous workshops have been at Unilever, KPMG, Southwark Council, AAT, GlaxoSmithKline, Herman Miller, Eversheds, Reuters, Johnson Controls, and MOD.

As part of PwC’s two centre location strategy and accommodating just over half of their 10,000 London workforce, 7 More London offered a unique opportunity for PwC to create a workplace that would reflect the values and ambitions of the firm. The objectives of the project included providing a flexible workplace to meet business needs now and for the long term. About 20% growth can be accommodated without physical change as working patterns evolve and people choose to use spaces differently. 7 More London provides:

• 460,000ft2 across 13 floors.

• Capacity for 6,000 heads in 4,000 workspaces at an overall sharing ratio of 1.5:1

• A further 690 workspaces in collaborative settings across the practice floors.

• 112 client facing meeting rooms with 22 dedicated videoconference facilities.

When arriving, visitors and staff can physically see how PwC does business. Exceptional occupier service is facilitated with spaces that work for individuals, groups, when working collaboratively in teams or with clients. There is 100% hotelling for everyone, with high standards of services (including quality refreshment hubs and floor concierges), a choice of workspaces, central secure client filing and, most importantly, continuous engagement with the various business units delivers maximum space utilisation. Sustainability was a key aim; despite its conventional corporate appearance, 7 More London is the first building in the capital to have been awarded a BREEAM Outstanding rating.

The event will include presentations on the property strategy for London, design, change management, POE and the occupier viewpoint. Delegates will have an extensive tour of the building. Places will be limited to 40, so if you wish to see at first hand how innovation can deliver cost efficient sustainable performance enhancement, contact Paul Bartlett, the OPN Chairman, for more details as soon as possible on paulbartlett@sbssol.co.uk or 01379 678899

Paul Bartlett, Chairman, Office Productivity Network

2011 IFMA Workplace Conference – Madrid

by Juan Luis de la Peña of 3G Office, Madrid (http://www.3g-office.com/inicio.html)

2011 IFMA Workplace Conference was held on 26-27th October kindly hosted by ENDESA in Madrid. All attendants (near 100 people) agree that it’s been an excellent conference with outstanding speakers and presentations as well as keynotes, moderators and round tables (plus a great catering!) where we all learned and shared real experiences, figures and trends regarding today’s ways of working and workplace solutions from several countries and business sectors.

Moderators:

Francisco Vázquez. President of 3G Office Group and Director of International Relations of IFMA Spain.

Leopoldo Alandete. Managing Director, LA & Asociados.

Xavier Llobera. General Manager, Microsoft Innovation Centre for Productivity Center.

All of them, Partners of the Workplace Innovation Group, played a great role in the conference, not only introducing the speakers but also questioning them and sharing their experiences and points of view regarding key matters in an open and frank way.

Conferences:

Introduction to Social Dynamics (by Francisco Vázquez)

Francisco made a clear introduction to how social dynamics are changing – dynamics that are mainly driven by technology, and new generations of people which are demanding new ways of working that suit their needs, and how companies are consequently adapting their workplaces to be flexible.

Agile Working in the UK (by Andrew Mawson, Managing Director, Advanced Workplace Associates Ltd)

Andrew introduced us to UK workplace trends, where there is some of the most expensive Real Estate in the world, and where most organizations are under pressure to reduce costs, but increase productivity. “Agile Working”, which is a dynamic way of working that frees people to work where and when it is appropriate for them and their organizations, pops up as solution. What is needed to support agile working are new layouts of office schemes with no owned spaces and overlapped areas with central or anchor points where groups gather around. He showed the today’s workplace situation by sector, from traditional (Legal, Retail) to mature (Telecoms, ITs). He pointed out that the change to agile working needs not only change management but “change maintenance” thereafter and that leadership from the directors of the business is the essential element.

Measuring the Value of Virtual Working (by Philippe Jimenez, Managing Director, Regus)

Philippe talked about a Regus research study based in big companies regarding measurement the benefits of the agility@work, a mix of real estate, commute, sustainability, technology, people and culture. The survey was done from three points of view: Virtual, AdVantages and Value, and showed results such as 63 % people still go to the office at least 4 days a week, 59% people takes more than 41 minutes to reach the office and the same to return home but only 12% want to work from home, and that 55% of the workplaces are not used. He also introduced the BYOC (Buy your own computer) model and the trend towards BYOW (Buy your own workplace).

Microsoft Milan (by Fernando Carneros, Real Estate & Facility Manager Microsoft Spain)

Fernando presented how Microsoft has evolved from “Bill’s Office” to a mobile workplace, by means of continuous research and, of course, technology. Before, team and individual settings were segregated and undifferentiated (highly hierarchical), today, a variety of team and individual settings mixed in clusters, with technology driving a multidimensional approach. He also introduced us to Microsoft Milan Innovation Campus (see YouTube) where new ways of work are continuously implemented.

Best Practices in the Financial Sector in London (by William Poole-Wilson, Director Pringle Brandon LLP)

William introduced his company and experience in the financial sector. He pointed out several general questions: Is London going to survive? What will be the landscape now? What does this mean for refurbishing? Numbers don’t stack up? Where is the money? Where is the space? And others more specifics: How can current available space be utilized for trading floors now and in the future? He went through several great examples of financial offices to answer the questions (case studies: Barclays, Macquarie) and showed the results of a survey conducted in trading floors users (for example they need faster communications and prefer clusters configuration of the space).

Importance of Measuring Workplace Spaces (by Carmen Ramos, Managing Director, Fama Systems)

Carmen, fromSpain, focused on the importance that new technology has in managing workplace spaces and the value of Computer Aided Facility Management (CAFM) software as a tool of measuring spaces and knowing exactly what there is in a building and so making easier to book and change spaces as well as move people when needed.

Measuring the activities in the workplace (by Germain Verbeemen, CEO, Wicely)

Germain, fromBelgium, started showing the evolution from “old” offices, passing by shared offices, to Activity Based Offices. He questioned how to conceive and manage Activity Based Offices. The answer is to measure occupancy and activities in an detailed manner with the right methodology and technology get trustworthy results that can be translated in “Activity Blocks” spaces that fulfill the needs of the people which are tuning in a “Generic Office Concept”. He concluded that an office must support effectiveness, flexibility, efficiency and attractiveness.

Measuring Productivity and Performance (by Tim Oldman, Founder and Managing Director, Leesman)

Tim gave a detailed presentation of what they name the Leesman Index by which they measure workplace effectiveness, the capability of workplace to support the productive activities of those it accommodates. He showed very interesting results from a study based on 5274 respondents, 22 surveys, 19 clients, 51 properties, c. 85,000 sq m and with a 70% response rate. He finally recommended that every company should ask themselves the following questions: what makes a workplace productive? What makes it unproductive? Where is it failing the occupiers? What interventions are required? How can it be bettered?

The office Code Project (by Catherine Gall, Director WorkSpace Futures Research, Steelcase)

Catherine presented a Steelcase Workspace Futures Study to know what the relationship between national culture and workplace design is. The study was based in 5 dimensions of culture: Power distance, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty avoidance and Long-term orientation. She showed how the result of the study gives different “Office Codes” for each country.

Understanding Cultural Issues (by Marie Puybaraud, Director of Global Workplace Innovation, Johnson Controls)

From the point of view of the “Multi-generations @ Work” Marie introduced which are the workplace characteristics by generation (Veterans, Baby boomers, Generation X, Generation Y) and showed the very interesting, and sometimes surprising, results of a survey to answer the question of how important the workplace is in attracting, recruiting and retaining multi generations of workers with 8,800 respondents in total. The conclusion was that people and space should work in synergy and that the space design must be for flexibility, collaboration, performance and social interaction.

Social Dynamics Affecting the Workplace (by Kate North, Vice President, e-work)

Kate based her presentation in what she calls the “Big Bold Shift”: a move towards mobility with unassigned work space plus activity-based work environments, focusing in how important is to overcome the resistance to change and, particularly, how to help to the change and preparing the workforce for the new workplaces, processes, behaviors and tools. She talked about the trends in learning and change management and the role of e-learning has on them as well as the differences between generations.

Vodafone Holland (by Tjeu Verheijen, Project manager “the changing workplace”, Vodafone Netherlands)

Tjeu showed the pilot project done by Vodafone in the Netherlands that led to the optimization of the workplace used together to the fulfillment of the ways of work the employees (i.e. people) demand today: flexibility, mobility, freedom of choice and work and private life balance.

Nokia Berlin (by José Luis Sanchez, Workplace solutions manager EMEA & India, Nokia, and Niklaus Arn, Managing Director, RBS)

A very interesting case and best practice was presented by both, José Luis and Niklaus. They showed us how business growth made the company also grow in locations and, very important, change its workplace strategy. In that new way of working “the team is becoming the critical unit” where “new work cultures are merging life and work, requiring Nokia to provide locations and spaces that support those blurred boundaries”. They show us the lay-outs of the Berlin office, the reason behind them as well the improvements achieved, both for people and business.

Coming next

During next year we’ll work to find new best practices and speakers to have the 5th IFMA Workplace Conference even better than this one (a difficult goal!). Some organizations have already changed the way of working, many others are already thinking of doing so and all of them are interested in, so 3g office will be, by different means, continuously promoting the benefits of the flexible working and helping them to implemented it since 3g office is a consultancy firm specialized in this matter.

Juan Luis de la Peña, Head of Facility Management Consulting at 3G Office

jldelapena@3g-office.com 

One of the best from CoreNet Paris: “AiaDW” (All in a day’s work)

Paul Carder; Tuesday 20th Sept 2011; Paul was at the CoreNet Global Paris Summit. What follows below is his interpretation, so any errors are his alone.

A presentation at the 11.15 breakout session was given by Rob Wright of Johnson Controls GWS, (JCI) and Julie Boshoff, of Quest (a staffing solutions company, and JCI client, from Johannesburg).

I picked this session out for the blog, because it was excellent, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it introduced a genuinely new tool for understanding the workplace, albeit not a ‘public’ tool as it is owned and delivered by JCI GWS (actually designed by Rob Wright, who has a track record of designing useful web-based tools; he was also one of the drivers and creators behind QLW, or Quantum Leap for Work). Secondly, it was an international application of this new tool, as it was developed by Rob, an Englishman (only just – he’s a Geordie – very close to being Scots :-), tried out in the USA (where Rob is now based), and applied for a client in Johannesburg, RSA. Thirdly, I think it showed that large organisations like Johnson Controls do, contrary to some commentators, deliver innovations like this. Julie Boshoff, their client, was warmly singing their praises, which is perhaps proof enough. It is certainly not one of those cases where a service provider does a project for an innovative client, learns on the job, then passes this off to their next client as ‘our innovation’….this process below was developed and led by Rob Wright.

Understanding work: a business programme (not an RE/Facilities programme)

The session was really about understanding work (or at least, understanding work in the context of one organisation – we all know that every organisation has some similarities, but many differences).  And it was clearly a business programme, with an emphasis on changing people’s ways of working, and helping staff to become more efficient and effective in their work tasks.

To put it in context, the client has 12 branches across the Republic of South Africa (RSA), with 14,000 what it terms “flex staffers”. As the company supplies staff, and teams, for temporary positions and projects, and some outsourced functions, it has been the focus of some pressure from the Unions, and accused (like all similar agencies) as a “form of slavery”. The client wished to address this, and has implemented benefits that more permanent, long-term staff, would
expect, such as medical aid and retirement plans. The client expressly wishes to
be seen as an “employer of choice”. It is also around 99% women, so we are told
it is “very productive”! But this is a challenge, as good people want the best
jobs, and they perceive this to be in permanent employment.

WOW was born….(how many programmes are there globally called “WOW”?)

Space in the current (first pilot) office was not effective, or efficient. So the WOW programme was originated by the client, using JCI’s four part plan, as follows:

  1. Workspace Review
  2. Workstyle Review
  3. Design & Planning
  4. Supporting the Change

Workspace Review

Utilisation studies were conducted in 3 locations. Nothing especially new in this – we have all seen workplace utilisation charts, I’m sure, showing utilisation of the offices at several ‘timepoints’ throughout the working day. This is usually repeated (in my experience) over a 3 week period, and can be broken down by desk, meeting room, and other facilities, depending on how the survey is made up. The end result showed an average utilisation of 48%. This is probably +/- 10% from your offices, and most other offices – unless you have already implemented some form of ‘agile working’ programme. Or unless you sit in a call centre, or a country where people predominantly sit at their office desk and work long hours (i’m thinking particularly in parts of SE Asia & Japan where people routinely sit at their desk until the boss goes home….having said that, I have experienced that in London also!)

There were a variety of spaces, from induction and training rooms, to testing (examination, psychometric tests, etc.) and lots of meeting rooms. So some utilisation levels were up in the 80/90%.

Workstyle Review

This is where “A day in the life” comes in as a process. Rob asked selected members of staff to complete a diary for a day, outlining their work experience. 187 days of diary evidence were received and analysed. Different diaries were collated from different functions and roles across the client organisation. This especially highlighted barriers to working. The results were collated in terms of number of minutes wasted per day due to a variety of factors. The overall results were as follows

  • Technology                 40 minutes per day
  • Workplace                  31 minutes per day
  • General work            26 minutes per day

Alongside this, the survey showed particular issues with workplace factors, and ‘general work’ factors. No surprises with the top ‘barriers’ – these were noise and disruption. Any workplace consultant could have guessed that before the surveys, but that is not the point – the point is engagement. Listening to the staff, and feeding back.

The FBI was engaged – the “Finance & Branch Infrastructure” department – headed by Julie Boshoff. With JCI-GWS, a list of potential solutions (which, to me, looked much like a ‘risk register’) was compiled, and given a ranking number.

AiaDW – a user friendly online survey

The interface for the online survey is easy to use, which could be why they received a record 80%+ response rate (266 staff), from a good mix of groups across the organisation. The survey is designed to feedback primarily (1) understanding of workstyles, (2) a quantitative measure of unproductive time, in minutes as above, (3) insight into attitudes towards working ‘differently’.

Rob admitted, “the high response rate was a surprise”, and puts it down to the relative simplicity of the process and the survey itself. It goes out to staff as an email link, and is easy to fill in.

The survey starts with 24 categories of work, which the respondent selects according to their usual work routines. It then asks how much time the respondent spends doing each type of work. It then has 4 groups, which the user must ‘drag and drop’ their work categories into – simple! The 4 categories are:

  1. Focus
  2. Collaborate
  3. Network
  4. Develop

So now, the team can analyse the types of work, time spent on each, and which of the 4 boxes they fit into. This is quite a lot of analysis from which the design team can start to adjust the sizes of different categories of space to suit work patterns.

Instant feedback, and constant communication – keys to success

One of the features of this survey and analysis tool, which I have not seen in similar processes before, is the ‘playback’ at the end of the survey. People can (and were asked to) print off their ‘playback’, and the ones who were to be invited to workshops would bring their own ‘playback’ with them. This just adds to the excellent communication process, before, during and after (via workshops, and announcements from the ‘FBI’ team).

Time in different spaces/ places

This was shown to be 60% in the office, but only 35% at “the desk”. Out of the 60%, in addition to 35% of time at the desk, 12% of time was spent in the open support areas, and 13% in rooms. The other 40% of time was split between being out of the office, and around 11% spent at home. So this showed that there was already some implicit home-working, even though, like in many organisations, this had not been made explicit until now.

Two ‘Group’ companies, merge into one office? Data….

The question arose, during the project, of ‘could Quest and Emmanuels, two companies in the same Group, work in the same location’? The same data collection process and analysis above was applied at Emmanuels, which showed that the types of work and work-styles at both companies had a very similar profile. So the project team were able to say ‘yes’, and back up their views with facts.

This would clearly mean moving to different ways of working, which means in effect varying levels of workplace sharing – desk sharing ratios above 1.0, and shared meeting rooms, etc. But the survey had asked people to rank their attitude towards working in a different way. Of 4 categories, the top two were (1) enthusiastic, and (2) open-minded; i.e., not quite ‘enthusiastic’, but open to try it. Both categories are considered to be positive attitudes, and totalled 90% of respondents (37% enthusiastic; remainder ‘open minded’). This was good to know, and will now result in the same process being rolled out in the Cape Town and Durban branches.

Design & Planning stage

Following this analysis stage, the next step is to move into thinking about how space can be redesigned to support people to work more efficiently and effectively. This consisted of 3 key processes, as follows:

  1. Results of the analysis fed into the design concept
  2. Users connecting their survey responses, and the ‘playback’ that they kept copies of, with the new designs – important to close the feedback loop
  3. Making new tools work for the user

It was interesting that this programme was completed with very little new furniture or technology. Mobile staff got laptops issued before the move (what is mobile? Outside the office – OK; but people are mobile around the office also, even if they rarely or never work elsewhere).

Stage 4: supporting the change

The key word that sticks out strongly is engagement. Communications were clearly very good throughout the programme, led by the ‘FBI’ team on the client side, with support from JCI-GWS.

In addition to the ‘playback’ of results described above, a website was set up for users to keep them in touch with the process, and any milestones or decisions on design and features. The fact that people were listened to, and they saw this in effect in the new designs, was critical to the success.

Economics / results

Some headline real estate results given by JCI were impressive, as follows:

RE (space) cost per head                              down by 44%

RE (space) cost per SqM                              down by 13%

SqM per head                                                  down by 36% (from 29 to 18.8)

These results clearly show that, although some smaller (but not insignificant) savings were made in the overall space costs, it is the change in working practices that leads to the large reductions in cost per head, as people use the space more effectively. This is not news – but worth reinforcing!

Q & A session

I asked Rob whether, if the project had not involved a full scale refurbishment and move into bright new offices, the perceived productivity gains would have been the same. Rob replied that

we could have achieved some of the
productivity gains without the new fit-out, but not as much

Julie added that “connectivity”, including the new laptops for mobile users, and introduction of the office intranet, had improved people’s productivity also.

Tim Oldman, Founder of Leesman (and the Leesman Index, or LSi) made the point that “this is an employee engagement project firstly, and a property project secondly”. That seems very true, as engagement, feedback and action on the results, was the critical factor in the success. Tim also reminded delegates of the “productivity toxins” research by HBR (Harvard), and asked how many of these “toxins” had been removed from the old environment. Julie responded that the old environment was dark, and some people called it ‘the dungeons’! The new café spaces where people are encouraged to work, and other open shared space, had removed some of these “toxins”.

Melanie Woolcott from Pringle Brandon made a valid point that perhaps in future the process could capture the positive factors about the existing workspace, as well as the productivity inhibitors. Rob said that he was considering how to feed that in.

The session moderator, Rene Buck, asked a question that I have heard other senior managers ask before, ‘Rob, if you have been doing these types of surveys and collecting data for many years, surely you know what people are going to say, what the issues are? You don’t need to repeat the survey for every building, do you?’ Rob Wright’s reply was two-fold: firstly, every organisation (and I would say many parts of the same organisation) have different work types, styles and attitudes. So the answers don’t necessarily roll-out across a portfolio (Rob
has found that recently even in his own JCI portfolio in the USA). But the key
point, and one which backs up this entire case study, Rob said as follows:

“You may get the same results every time, but I would still advocate doing the survey every time – its about engaging with people”

Germain Verbeermen, Partner at Wiceley in Brussels, made a point based on his similar experience of these types of workplace surveys:

“Managers know how to cheat on these surveys! They will tell you that they spend most of their time on ‘concentration’ tasks, and at their desk – they are just angling for an office!”

Rene chipped in, “yes, and its not only managers that do this!” Rob had an answer though, saying “that’s why the list of work types, and amounts of time spent on each, come before the section that asks them to move these work types into the 4 boxes of ‘Focus, Collaborate, Network, Develop’…so they cannot do that”. Mmm, maybe?

Rene also asked “What didn’t you do, that you would have liked to have done”. Rob replied,

“working with the designers from day 1…when people get the data and analysis, and they were not the ones that collected the data, they don’t always like it”.

That is what happened here, as Rob explained. The designers were brought in by the client, not JCI-GWS, and didn’t at first accept the analysis. This may be in part due to the fact that ‘workplace’ and ‘new ways of working’ generally are at an embryonic stage in RSA. Perhaps, though, the way to achieve a greater project success is for the client to appoint one firm to see the project through from analysis into concept design at least. Perhaps another designer can pick up the detailed designs, or a lower cost/lower level part of the design organisation. The strategic upfront work is always going to be more expensive, whereas the more ‘routine’ design work uses lower level (lower cost) staff.

Tim Oldman again picked up on this issue, asking “where do you draw the line between data “harvesting”, data analysis, and feed into the design solution. Rob replied that he “would like, in JCI-GWS, to have more people in the design team that can do the analysis, to create an effective handover into the detailed design”.

Julie added, “yes, that would be better – there were some problems with getting the designers to follow what we had set out”.

Final word

Rob Wright had the final word, saying

“one funny thing that happened on this project was that I had 20 interviews set up [with key end users]…and I met about 120 people! I had expected to meet one person, and 5 or 6 may turn up to the interviews, because they all wanted to have a say, and were genuinely interested in the project”.

I know from experience that many corporates would restrict this, and claim it is a waste of staff time and resource for them to ‘all go’. But all credit to this client, not experienced in workplace projects, but experienced in engagement of people in change processes, that they went along with it. They may have had 180 hours (or so) of time taken up by people attending interviews, instead of 20-30 hours. But, how much has this saved the organisation in the longer term. Julie and her team clearly understood how to effect change in their organisation, and with Rob Wright’s workplace strategy skills, have been able to deliver a successful pilot which looks likely to be expanded across RSA….many people in sub-Saharan Africa will probably be looking carefully at how they can learn from this case study by Quest and JCI.

paul.carder@occupiersjournal.com
twitter: @occupiers

20th Sept 2011 (in the vicinity of, but not that close to) Paris at the CoreNet ‘Paris’ Summit.

CoreNet members can download the slides here.

Transactive memory – changing the way we recall information: good for CRE/FM outsourcing?

Sometimes I read an article and don’t get to the end (low boredom threshold…), and sometimes I have to read it again and think ‘wow, this is really news to me…’. This BBC News science article “Internet’s memory effects quantified in computer study” was one of those that got me thinking….I just had to ‘blog’ it.

If you want to read the full academic paper by Betsy Sparrow and colleagues at Columbia, its titled “Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips“, or if you’re a bit lazier like me (!), watch the interview on YouTube.

So, interesting, but what has this to do with us? Quite a lot, it seems, as we are starting to change the way that we use our minds and recall information. We are using our minds a little like a computer with a ‘flash drive’ with plug in external memory. The BBC article states,

“Psychology experiments showed that people presented with difficult questions began to think of computers. When participants knew that facts would be available on a computer later, they had poor recall of answers but enhanced recall of WHERE they were stored.

The researchers say the internet acts as a “transactive memory” that we depend upon to remember for us. In the interview on YouTube, Betsy Sparrow explains that we have always used other people as part of this “transactive memory” – ie., you don’t need to ‘store’ all the answers, but have a network of people whom you know will have the answers – like ‘phone a friend on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Or, more typically, in a workplace, our colleagues and network.

The BBC article continues:

“….the propensity of participants to remember the location of the information, rather than the information itself, is a sign that people are not becoming less able to remember things, but simply organising vast amounts of available information in a more accessible way”.

Dr Sparrow said:

“I don’t think Google is making us stupid – we’re just changing the way that we’re remembering things… If you can find stuff online even while you’re walking down the street these days, then the skill to have, the thing to remember, is where to go to find the information. It’s just like it would be with people – the skill to have is to remember who to go see about [particular topics].”

This makes me think of the corporate real estate or facilities management function, or clearly any corporate function that we may work within.

Organizational memory in CRE & FM

With the usual wikipedia health-warnings, it does contain some definition and links regarding organisational memory. In our organisations, collective memory exists in the organisation’s archives, filing systems, intranet etc…and in the heads of its employees (and I would say, its outsourced service providers).

But if people are becoming intelligent processors, rather than ‘storing’ much of the information they need to do their jobs, is this a change in the nature of work and the employee? And does this in fact make many technical and service delivery jobs potentially more transitory – anyone with the basic knowledge, using ‘transactive memory’, can perform many (most?) tasks?

In CRE & FM, what do we put online, available to the ‘transactive memory’?

Increasingly, in our market sector – management of real estate assets, facilities services and workplace design/change – we are putting more information into the ‘transactive memory’. No longer does the maintenance engineer need to know every building and every system in her portfolio – she has a handheld ‘widget’ that can recall all the asset data and history required to do the job. In fact, I have seen at first hand, such a knowledgeable person being replaced (via outsourcing) with a far more frequent turnover of technicians, reliant on their online/system-based asset schedules and task orders.

OK, thats easier – its technical. But how about the services that cannot be ‘recalled’ via computer-based systems?

When can’t we replace our internally-stored memory with ‘transactive’ memory? When is ‘looking it up’ just no good.

I don’t know the answer! I’m interested in your views on this.

Firstly, I would suggest that the in-house occupier, or ‘intelligent client’ needs to have in-built learned knowledge about the key individuals, departments and functions in the organisation. And a lot about the organisation’s culture and way of doing things. If you are sat in front of the Head of Operations for your company, there are only certain things that it would be acceptable to ‘look up’ from your transactive memory. Too much of this, and the Execs in your organisation would lose confidence in you.

There are certain instant, customer-focused jobs that rely on embedded knowledge also – not transactive memory. Like receptionists? They need to know faces, know what people do, who is important, who to call, etc. What about the Facilities Service Desk? Does it work as well for customers if the operators have little embedded knowledge of the organisation, its people, its buildings and systems? How much can they ‘look up’ on systems, and how much should they retain in their own memory? What about the ‘space planner/strategist’? Again, does this role need the in-built learned knowledge of the intelligent client as above? Probably. Does that mean the role should be in-house? Maybe….what do you think?

Structured, online, transactive corporate memory will be a BIG competitive advantage for outsourced service providers

Thats clear, is it not, from the discussion above? The more that an outsourced service provider can demonstrate that it has a well-structured ‘transactive memory’ to support all its staff on-site, the more the occupier (client) may be convinced that further services could be outsourced.

For example, staff turnover is a problem with FM companies. I spoke to a client recently who had experienced three Account managers inside 12 months – very disruptive, and bad for the outsourced provider’s reputation. But can this be fixed, or at least supplemented, with transactive memory?

How are companies investing in the systems they need to deliver this transactive memory? I would love to know.

regards, Paul Carder, Managing Director, Occupiers Journal Limited

paul.carder@occupiersjournal.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/paulcarder

Twitter: @occupiers

Social media facilities management for internal corporate collaboration – if IT lets you!

Workplace / Facilities Managers have a key role to play in bringing collaborative environments to life with collaborative social media tools

Is it just me, or do many people in large corporate and government organisations have more tools to communicate and collaborate OUTSIDE of their organisation that they do WITHIN it? Seems to me that some IT departments may be holding back ‘information’ rather than providing the tools to increase its ease of use…?

There are so many ways to communicate now, its a real problem when people have them all on their i-POD, but only email or phone at their desk! As an example, I only get a few messages a week via Facebook, rather than several hundred via my 3 email accounts – so my IFA used Facebook this weekend, as the one route he knew was most likely to reach me on a Saturday morning. Good thinking. I also get many useful web-links every week from people that I follow on Twitter. But LinkedIn is by far the most useful collaboration tool for me. Can 80m+ people be wrong? Its easy to find people, in organisations that you want to talk to, about subjects of mutual business interest.

So, why don’t organisations let their people use LinkedIn? and Twitter? and other useful social media tools? Security risk?

Now, here’s an idea – why not initiate your own INTERNAL version of LinkedIn or Facebook? It would help to encourage more communication across the organisation, between people who otherwise may pass like ‘ships in the night’ through the corridors and past the watercoolers of corporate environments….without knowing that they have something useful to talk about.

Just look at all the ‘Groups’ on LinkedIn – something for every area of interest in the business world, and much more besides I’m sure. How powerful would it be to have this facility INSIDE the organisation..? Groups for every idea and project under the corporate umbrella; with the ability for people to contribute who may have great ideas but would otherwise not be heard.

Who should deliver it? well, why not corporate workplace/facilities? We work hard to create spaces and facilities to support and encourage communication and collaboration. We create spaces for people to mingle, and hopefully talk – restaurants, queues, break-out areas, etc. But what is missing is always the human connection – you might create opportunities for people to ‘bump into’ each other, but mostly they will not know each other, so they will not necessarily speak.

A corporate version of LinkedIn adds the human connection of course – a photo, so that you recognise someone, and a bit of information about their career history, achievements, current role…even faily and outside interests.

Now, how many more “watercooler moments” would be created – and who knows how many useful business opportunities initiated as a result – if companies had their own corporate ‘in-house’ version of LinkedIn? And what better way for corporate workplace/facilities management and ICT departments to work together to respectively create collaborative environments, both in the physical and the information worlds….?

Who will be first? If you already do this, please let me know…love to hear about it (occupiers@ntlworld.com); regards, Paul Carder http://uk.linkedin.com/in/paulcarder