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  • Corey Lee Wilson

The big post-pandemic questions to answer



POST COVID-19 WORKPLACE "BIG QUESTIONS"

While The Experts’ Assessment: The Workplace Post-COVID-19 SME panel provided many useful answers and insights, their responses also raised many important questions that the industry will have to address. Answers to these questions are not necessarily right or wrong.

Who should lead the “great transformation” to more dynamic and hybrid ways of working?

  • While the SME panel thinks that HR should guide the development of workplace strategy, this opinion does not mean that HR has the competencies or interest.

  • Also, HR is not the “golden solution” or the only option for leading this effort. HR, IT and FM can all take a leading role in the development. The entities that take a foremost role need to be collaborative, have good communication skills, a good understanding of technology and worker needs, and the means to support them.

These questions point to organizational discussions and defining the new balance between FM, HR and other support functions.

Some organizations such as Quora and Gitlab have hired “heads of remote work,” potentially adding a new organizational silo to the list. Others, like Hewlett Packard Enterprise, have appointed cross-functional teams, including HR, IT and FM, led by their Vice President of Corporate Real Estate, to take charge of total workplace experiences for remote and on-site workers.

HOW DO WE DEFINE THE NEW HYBRID MODEL EMERGING?

Currently, several potential models are emerging that will require a great deal of analysis. Organizations will have to analyze:

  • What types of work are best done in the workplace versus remotely?

  • What types of worker personalities will be able to work virtually versus in the workplace?

The answers to these questions impact the support provided to remote workers as well as to the layout, furnishings, equipment, meeting space and support spaces typically provided to on-site workers.

Many new typologies will emerge that will have to be adjusted to each organization’s needs and the buildings it occupies or expects to occupy.

As this state of affairs is new, time and budgets need to be allocated for ongoing evaluations at regularly scheduled intervals for both on-site and remote workers and locations. Will time and resources be available?

WHAT IS THE EMERGING ROLE OF FACILITY MANAGEMENT?

What is FM’s new role? This question is an existential one. As one SME identified, “[We] need clarification of facility management versus workplace management. Facility management implies a facility. [Work from home] (WFH) programs are broader than that. Maybe a rebrand is required.”

However, the skills and competency differences in running facilities versus running workplace experiences should not be ignored. Specialist skills are required to keep “facilities running in office and industrial buildings. These are vastly different than those needed to help employees navigate the challenges of working remotely. There are some crossovers, but responsibilities should remain separate.”

Article content courtesy of IFMA's October 2020 report titled: "The Experts' Assessment: The Workplace Post COVID-19."

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