Tag Archives: learning

Is your ‘benchmarking’ actually adding value? It should be by now!

Your current benchmarking….

If you are involved in corporate real estate (CRE) or facilities / workplace management, you are probably involved in benchmarking of space use and occupancy cost at the moment. Probably also environmental data, such as energy use and costs, and wider reporting on other sustainability measures. You may be using a specialist databank or benchmarking company. Or you may be working with other companies in an informal group.

We (at Occupiers Journal limited that is) have invested time in creating a discussion around this subject on Linkedin, called ‘OJ’ occupier benchmarking & data publishing. It is part of our ‘Open’ Group.

The discussion has taken off, with many of the leading benchmarking organisations (and key individual experts) now taking part. Roger de Boehmler, former Director-General of PISCES (now part of OSCRE, the International Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate, the only global e-commerce standards body for real estate) is now working with us as Project Director.

Therefore, as this discussion and ‘programme’ starts to take shape, I wanted to throw in some points to think about…

TIP#1 – What is a “benchmark”, and what is an “average”?

Many groups get this wrong! You may be working with one. Even specialist benchmarking providers misrepresent the difference between a “benchmark” and an average.

A “benchmark” should be exactly that – a mark on the ‘bench’ to show best practice, or best achievable. It should not be just the ‘mean’ or ‘median’ or some other average of a set of numbers. What does that tell you?? Do you aim to be ‘average’??

You should be getting told by your benchmarking provider, what their view is of ‘best practice’, and where you are against this measure. If they are also consultants (as many are) they will probably also be advising you on how to address any ‘gaps’ between where you are now and where you want to be.

TIP#2 – “What” is a start; “Why?” is more useful – quite often a question NOT asked!

Anyone can take a bunch of numbers, put them in a database, and tell you where your ‘numbers’ are against a wider group. Thats the “what”, and it doesn’t tell you much of value….

Your benchmarking group is not being useful unless it can explain “why” one company has achieved figures that appear to be better than the others.

Sadly, I have seen this situation NOT improve for almost two decades now! Why? Because every benchmarking group, or assignment, spends 90%+ of its time getting reasonable comparative data, and only whatever time is left (usually very little) on getting to the real kernel of ‘WHY?’ and ‘HOW?’…the real best practice questions that will help an organisation to actually improve.

One of the key reasons why we have started the ONE database programme. And the reason that we think it will get driven to a successful conclusion – where we can all get access to reasonably good quality data, and spend our time on analysis not on chasing data!

TIP#3 – Don’t accept the benchmarker’s phrase – “this could be because….”

That’s code for “we don’t know, but we guess that….”

Make them work harder to find the answers, not simple assumptions. Its all down to the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ questions above.

Some other serious points for you to challenge:

  1. The drivers of effectiveness (and even efficiency) for office facilities have changed….but many benchmarking groups have not kept pace. The key issue is that space is not used ‘9-5’, or by staff only, or on a ‘one person one desk’ ratio. To measure the effectiveness of office buildings today, we must take account of the Desk Share Ratio (DSR), where DSR= # of people using space / # of useable workspaces;
  2. The DSR measure necessitates understanding how many people use the space in each office, for how long, and how many useable workspaces are there, and how are they used. How does your benchmarking provider deal with this in their data analysis?
  3. We all know that it takes time, and ‘triangulation’ of several bits of data, to work out how many people actually use each building, how frequently, and for how long when they do use it (i.e., quick visit, in for a meeting, or ‘camp down’ for 10 hours?). Are you all doing this consistently?
  4. Many benchmarking groups use measures of “xyz per FTE”, to show “per capita” use of space and facilities. What is the FTE figure? Is it how many people are allocated to use the building (i.e., that is their base)? Or is it an assumption based on number of workstations? Or is it the actual average occupancy on a daily basis? This can vary by 100% or more! Here’s why: at a DSR of 1.2, you could have 6,000 people using 5,000 workstations, but the building average occupancy at say 60%, means 3,000 people use the space daily…6,000 people, 5,000 workstations, or 3,000 average users??
  5. “Cost per FTE” may be accurate in terms of the ‘numerator’ (cost), but can vary massively due to the ‘denominator’ (FTE), due to the later point.
  6. “Sq.m. per FTE” varies on the same basis….!
  7. “Sq.m. per Workstation? OK, as long as everyone is measuring space in the same way, that could be relatively accurate. But, is Sq.M per Workstation very relevant to a mobile workforce such as accountants and consultants? I’d rather have Auditors using comfortable productive space at 12 sq.m. per workstation, at a DSR of 2 or 3, than I would have then crammed into 9.5 sq.m. per workstation with no desk-sharing….size of workstation doesn’t matter, it’s what you do with it!
  8. “Cost per sq.m.” can be fairly accurate and comparable, if you work hard enough at it. But again, I would rather have a high “cost per sq.m.” office being operated over say 12 hours per day, with high levels of desk-sharing and high utilisation of meeting rooms and other spaces, than I would have a low cost building, occupied 9-5 on a DSR of <1, with poorly managed meeting and break-out spaces….

There’s more….we haven’t even got into “service levels versus cost” for each FM service line….! But that will do for now…

I hope this provides some useful material with which to challenge your 2012 benchmarking.

And suffice to say, if you want to do ‘proper’ benchmarking, and want to take these points and others into account, feel free to drop me a line at the email address below. Perhaps we should set up a special purpose company….”The Really Useful Benchmarking Company”, if Andrew Lloyd-Webber has no objections!

Contact me to talk about benchmarking anytime – it IS useful, if it is done properly: paul.carder@occupiersjournal.com

skype: paul.carder.uk

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‘OJ’ Careers & Jobs (#5 ; 30th March 2012)

Hiya – its the end of Q1 already; where has the time gone, eh? I have given up trying to write this blog weekly every Friday. I hope you’ll accept “almost every Friday” as good enough. Unless of course someone out there wishes to sponsor the blog?? Then, of course, it will get done….

Now two months in, we are well over 2,000 members on our Linkedin Group called “Careers & Jobs (Open) CRE & Facilities Management”. The link is here: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?about=&gid=4269106 . You can read more on the first week’s blog: http://alturl.com/qmsso

Recruiters & Head-hunters

This group is independent, so we hoped that any and all recruitment and head-hunting firms would use the group, and post vacancies to the ‘Jobs’ section. Many of you have, so thankyou for that. Anyone is welcome, and feel free to ‘advertise’ yourselves on the “Discussions” section.

These people posted Jobs discussions this week (I will expand this list over the next few weeks, into a global list of recruiters, and save it on my shared ‘Box’ folder: https://www.box.net/shared/bxrprfdfr7 ). For now, here are this week’s new recruiters (new to us anyway) in the order in which they posted. The full list is at the END.

Gareth Longley, http://www.linkedin.com/in/garethlongley , Manchester, UK

Natasha Luthra, http://www.linkedin.com/pub/natasha-luthra/35/67/a7b , Bengaluru, India

Peter Forshaw, http://www.linkedin.com/in/peterforshaw , UK

Featured Recruiter this week

I have been adding a “top recruiter” in past weeks, on the basis of who posts the most jobs to the Linkedin group. But, as it keeps going to Rebecca Worley, and would AGAIN!, I have had to change tack….sorry Rebecca, but keep ’em coming.

This week I’ll give a special mention to Peter Forshaw , Managing Director of Maxwell Stephens (UK). Peter has been in recruitment in the FM sector for many years now, and is up to about 80 blogs now on his site. Some useful views on FM and recruitment issues.

Top jobs this week

Peter is recruiting for 3 Regional FM roles for CBRE: http://lnkd.in/rCrSHy .

I think this week I’ll pick on Interim roles, as Gareth Longley posted this: http://lnkd.in/Tk6TxX . I know of many people in my network (now well over 6,000 around the world) who have decided to focus on interim roles rather than look for their next salaried position. Gareth has experience in interim roles, so give him a call: 07961 591 406

There have been many others Jobs posted over the last few weeks, around the world. Hopefully we will go wider still in month 3…? India maybe….

India: a booming market….

I was doing some work this week with my friend Sanjay Parmar, a CRE consultant in the UK who has personal and professional knowledge of India. I realised that I had well over 100 end-user contacts in India, from New Delhi up in the north, to Mumbai & Pune on the west coast, down to the “tech” cities of Bangalore, Chennia and Mysore in south India. Watch this space, as we will be keeping our eyes and ears open for opportunities in this wonderful and rapidly growing region.

Top Discussions:

We had some interesting ‘Discussions’ (see the Discussions tab) over the last two weeks. I don’t have time to cover them all, but here is one from a friend of mine, John Garrett in Denver CO: http://lnkd.in/MKpk8J . As John says:

 Recognizing the current volatility within today’s job market, there are tremendous opportunities across multiple functions within CRE / Facilities Management. This article explores this subject and demonstrates that there is, in fact, significant growth potential within these growing markets

 

Working @

I would like to thank Manager’s Choice this week Simon Beck, for his careers article on “A Facilities Manager’s Life in Angola”http://paulcarder.com/2012/03/09/a-facilities-managers-life-in-angola-southern-africa-by-simon-beck/ .

Many of you clearly read the article, judging by the number of comments and emails received. It was an interesting case study in the variety of careers possible in our marketplace.

If you would like to write a similar article, for Working @ your company, drop me a line at the email below. Thanks.

That’s all folks for this week, but subscribe to this blog and receive the update every Friday….

Have a great weekend, and if you are job-hunting, good luck,

Paul Carder (paul.carder@occupiersjournal.com)

Twitter @occupiers and @paulcarder

RECRUITERS (alphabetically)

Simon Aspinall: http://www.linkedin.com/in/simonaspinallcatch22 , Leeds, UK

Melissa Baxter http://www.linkedin.com/pub/melissa-baxter/18/555/b64 London, UK

Meghan Blankenship http://www.linkedin.com/pub/meghan-blankenship/5/9a5/634 Austin, TX, USA

John Bruno: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-bruno/16/402/7a6 , LA, CA, United States

Douglas Carrick: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/douglas-carrick/41/886/630 , London, UK

Jo Caughey: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jcaughey , Birmingham, UK

Jaime Cheng: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jaime-cheng/38/568/230 , Hong Kong

Nikki Dallas: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nikkidallas , London, UK

Bob DiSanto, Detroit, US

Kristin Erdmann: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kristinerdmann4hr , Minneapolis, USA

Brittany Finnell: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brittany-finnell/8/602/643 , Dallas, TX, United States

Ben Gregg: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/ben-gregg-0415919590/6/782/a11 , Sydney, Australia

Simon Knowles: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/simon-knowles/1/bb6/a8 , Exeter, UK

John Kreis: http://www.linkedin.com/in/johnkreiss , Boston, MA, United States

Chris Manning: http://www.linkedin.com/in/cjmanning , London, UK

Claire Marchant http://www.linkedin.com/in/clairemarchant Manchester, UK

Keely Marlin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/keelymarlin , Denver, CO, United States

Rick Morales http://www.linkedin.com/in/rickmoraleshrexpert New York, NY, USA

Merrick Morris http://www.linkedin.com/in/merrickmorris Norfolk, Virginia, USA

Cassie Rayner: http://www.linkedin.com/in/cassierayner , Leeds, UK

Raint Tang: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/rainy-tang/3b/280/12 , China

Rebecca Worley: http://www.linkedin.com/in/rebeccaworley , Co. Durham, UK

The Resilient Workplace

By Judith Heerwagen and Michael F. Bloom

In systems biology, resiliency is the capacity of a system and its inhabitants to bounce back from disruptive change, to cope with adversity without losing essential functionality and identity. The result is a more adaptive state with a greater capacity for effective re-organization. At the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), we have been implementing strategies to make the GSA’s vast number of workplaces more resilient and, thus, sustainable.

The GSA’s Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings is the GSA’s green building center of excellence. As the federal government’s high-performance building thought leader and catalyst, the office strategically facilitates the adoption of integrated sustainable practices, technologies, and behaviors to accelerate achievement of a zero environmental footprint. GSA oversees 37.02 million square feet of office space in 9,624 buildings owned or leased by the federal government; 12,536 federal employees work in these buildings. Thus, the lessons from GSA’s federal building stock can be applied to many workplaces, large and small, in many contexts.

The federal building “system” today is much like a biological system facing disruptive change. The need to achieve aggressive environmental, financial, and operational goals and to reduce the federal spatial footprint, while maintaining the health and productivity of the workforce, is creating strong pressures to change. Can the built environment—and specifically the workplace—respond to disturbances and stresses with resiliency? Can we intentionally develop the capacity to adapt and cope by drawing on lessons from the natural world?

It is possible, but it will take unprecedented integration across boundaries, drawing on the knowledge and skills from disciplines that do not normally work collaboratively. Designers, technologists, policy makers, building operators, organizational and behavioral scientists—all have parts of the knowledge required to build a new way of thinking about work and workplace.

Unlike other organisms, humans have the potential to anticipate, create, evaluate, and change based on feedback and evidence. A resilient workplace requires a shift in the way we think about, use, and value space and highlights the need to establish feedback loops in order to adapt to and replicate what works. It also requires a shift to a more science-based understanding of the nuances of human behavior.  Ultimately, the main source of resiliency is people. Thus, we need to shape the workplace and its support system to provide the experiences that promote the human capacity to be creative—both individual and organizational—in the face of challenges both external and internal.

We define the resilient workplace as a system of interlinking components, none of which alone will generate resiliency. But in combination, they create synergies and mutual reinforcements that will drive the co-evolution of behavior and place toward resiliency.

The components include:

• A new way of thinking: Consideration of the workplace as an integrated whole, attuned to the relationships among space, management, work behaviors, policy, furnishings, technology, operations and communication practices. Today, most of these capabilities are in boxes and organization charts, each with its own perspective, rules, and ways of thinking.  Removing the barriers created by boxed thinking may be the most difficult challenge to implementing the resilient workplace. But as people learn to work collaboratively, the desire to engage others in thinking and planning will occur readily if it is nurtured.

• An evolution away from individually owned space: If work is not where you are, but what you do, why continue to assign individuals permanent space that remains vacant 60 to 70 percent of the time? This is a prime example of a non-adaptive workplace:  people for more than a decade have been characterized by mobility at work—whether just moving from meeting to meeting, or more broadly in multiple cities. Exchanging static, individual assigned space for the appropriate blend of support spaces that fit how work is accomplished broadens access to space that supports agency mission and releases resources that are unnecessary or wasteful. Assigned workstations may soon be to workplaces, as the vestigial appendix is to the human anatomy—present and taking up space but without performing a useful function.

• An evolution toward dispersed functionality: To be truly effective, the physical workplace should be just one node in a multiplicity of spaces that support connection among people across time and space boundaries. Organizations in which dispersed work teams become routine and the norm will be more effective in carrying out their missions even when disruptive events occur. Having the right kit of tools and technologies to work effectively as a team from multiple sites is a critical component of dispersed functionality.

• An investment in social capital: the workplace exists to support the people who work there, an employer’s most valuable resource. To survive, the workplace should service a niche and provide value that isn’t fulfilled elsewhere.  We believe that real value is supporting the synergies that drive effective teams. Face-to-face interaction is important for enculturation, socialization, creative problem solving, negotiation, and setting strategic direction.  But maintaining relationships in between face-to-face meetings can be readily supported from multiple locations, as can quiet, focused work.

An evidence based process: one that uses performance results as a basis for design, operations, technologies, furniture, and equipment purchases, as well as policy making over the life cycle of the workplace. By evidence, we mean not just objective data on factors such as space utilization, but also the tacit knowledge that develops through experience to become “know how.”

Elements of the resilient workplace

Taken alone, the elements that support the resilient workplace are not especially novel. Their transformative power comes through their combination. Here, we outline the key elements of the resilient workplace.
Space: Invest in space as social capital with focus on the different ways people work, focusing on collaboration, co-creating, and learning. Plan space by attending to best practices in indoor environmental quality, ergonomics, comfort, worker performance, operating performance, and technology supports. Space is no longer owned by individuals or linked to status; it may be shared with other organizations.
Furnishings: Furnishings are varied, flexible, and interchangeable—like a stage set that can be reconfigured easily. Ergonomics and comfort are critical, with an emphasis on work surfaces, including collaborative white boards. Increase reliance on consolidated storage of files and documents and ready access to shared electronic files.
Technology: Wireless, cloud-based, pervasive mobile tools (laptops, smart phones, tablets, etc.) are embedded into work practices with comprehensive technical support. Deploy technology to aid understanding, relationship development, information visualization, role playing, scenario development, and other practices that enable people to see in new ways. Technology supports both face-to-face and dispersed collaboration.
Management Strategy: Manage to performance rather than presence; create opportunities for cross group rather than stove-piped work and reward it when it occurs.
Work Behavior: Empower people to work wherever they work best; work is not where you are but what you do. Emphasize collaboration to achieve results and develop practices that work.
Policy: Co-create policy with workforce; policy becomes an accessible, living document that changes with new evidence to reflect
best practices.
Sustainability: The touchstone for all aspects of work, office design, renovation, and operations is sustainability, including life-cycle financial sustainability.
Operations: Building tenants are actively engaged in the impact of their behavior on how facilities function. Policies and programs to actively support behavioral change are common practices. Web-based discussions share how individual behavior affects building performance and how building performance impacts tenant health and productivity.
Communication: Communication is multi-modal and ubiquitous through asynchronous meetings, social media, chat, Webinars, and collaborative creation in the cloud.

A resilient workplace will succeed only where these characteristics intersect, and will thrive only when people are empowered and supported to work in new ways. Many of these elements are currently in place in public and private sector offices and telework experiments. But rarely have the elements been integrated in a systems perspective across the workplace life cycle.

Judith Heerwagen is an environmental psychologist specializing in the human factors of sustainability. She is a sustainability program expert at the GSA’s Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings, where she focuses on integrating research into policy making and on the relationship between building social and physical systems. She is co-editor of the book Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life (Wiley, 2008).
Michael F. Bloom is a sustainability and green program advisor with the GSA’s Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings. He is a workplace strategist and project lead for GSA’s new Sustainable Facilities Tool,
www.sftool.gov.

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

How do we build corporate culture, and mentoring, in a mobile world?

I finished a report on Workplace Mobility a couple of weeks ago – specifically ‘how to maintain the commitment to mobility after the project team has moved on…’  It followed our research, and a workshop, with the Workplace ‘PIN’ (performance innovation network) group of real estate occupiers in the UK  Workplace \’PIN\’

I should say, I am a passionate believer in ‘mobility’ – enabling work to be conducted in many settings around the office, or away from the office with customers, or at home, or anywhere…and our research has shown clear benefits in a number of ways, for organizations and individuals alike.

But one area that needs some work – and a collection of brains, from different disciplines – is how the corporate organization creates and maintains its culture in a mobile world. And also, perhaps a subset of this, how does mentoring happen when people are less often together in the same space & time?

Lets take one of the best examples of a productive, flexible and mobile working environment, at Microsoft Workplace Advantage, Schiphol (NL). It really is a great environment, with multiple settings for working in different ways and with different people. People love it, and its won awards – deservedly so.

The key question I have – and I dont have any predetermined answer, as I’d like to know your views – is how do you pass on knowledge when people are less often together? Or rarely together, in one place, at one time?

I guess the first, and most important, group are the ’20-somethings’. Either fresh from University (in most cases these days), or perhaps transferring into a second job, and learning about the organization, what it does, how it does it. And also learning how to do their job – packed full of knowledge from University, but this is now the real office environment, and they have to learn how to get things done, how to persuade and influence…or just how to work!

In a traditional professional training, there has been a heavy reliance on mentoring throughout the structure. Graduates are mentored by qualified professionals, the recently qualified are mentored by the experienced, and the latter by the business directors or specialist partners. People learn from many experiences, some even ‘subliminal’. Sometimes simple, like over-hearing telephone discussions, consciously or perhaps unconsciously listening to what was said, how a customer was dealt with, how questions were answered, and so on. Most, if not all, people who have gone through a professional training will have experienced the pain (and repeat it on someone else, usually) of sitting with a senior person who red-lines and re-drafts your lovingly prepared report. Or cuts 30 of your presentation slides leaving the 10 she really needs….all good learning!!

Everyone remembers a good school teacher – in the same way, we remember experiences that taught us crucial lessons in our professional or business careers. So, how does this happen in a mobile world?

Cities like London, UK, have expensive real estate, so pressure to increase the DSR (desk-share ratio) will continue. This is accepted in mobile teams, like accountants (auditors) and management consultants. But can it ever work for bankers, business operations, software developers and the like?

Maybe the answer is mobile teams, rather than mobility for individuals? If the team is mobile, and can ‘camp’ in various places in groups of 2, 3, 4 or more, the corporate culture and learning experience is maintained. But where individuals are encouraged to be mobile, how do they maintain that link to the organization, and pick up the crucial learning and development that we all need?

How does this work in your organization? I’d love to hear your views….

Paul Carder