COLUMN: INSIDE FACILITY MANAGEMENT
WHY YOU’RE GOING TO NEED A ‘VIBE MANAGER’
Does it also feel like yesterday to you that our first Inside FM column was online, full of every exciting bit that went on in January? Meanwhile, February has flown by and again, plenty interesting articles have been written in the Facility Management market. We have made a selection and brief summary of these articles, just for you. The main theme everyone talked about in the past month? Employee health and employee happiness, and how to take action upon this through new offices and workplaces.
Mental health & the workspace
So let’s start with some facts and figures. According to British research by Claremont, 64% of all employees and 55% of senior management have a low or below average mental health. Main cause: (!). These numbers are quite shocking and make us realize that something has to change for traditional companies. The same researchers have also asked the employees what they would like to see differently in their office environment. A few interesting findings; 49% would like to have a space for meditation or yoga, 50% of the employees wants a workout spot during workhours and 42% wants a quiet place to work.
Hold on! Before you start building a spa in your office building, let’s take a few steps back. What can you do today? Our advice: start at the very beginning and talk to your client (which will probably be your colleagues). Start investigating: what are their wishes and demands? What is a must-have and what would be a nice to have? And most of all, be consistent. Some facility organizations even have feedback groups to provide them with valuable insights. You can use these groups to keep the conversation going about vitality and mental health, and let the way of communication as well as the topic become a part of the process and your company culture.
Coming through: new job titles
To make sure our employees are all very happy at work, we are collectively creating the most awesome function titles. We must say: very entertaining. Just a few examples:
Chief Experience Officer, Chief Happiness Officer, Chief Wellness Officer, Chief People and Culture Officer. Last but not least our personal favorite: Vibe Manager. What?! On the bright side, even though we can question some of these job titles, it is definitely a sign that many organizations see the importance of their employee happiness and are actually willing to invest in that – and we’re all here for it!
The different job titles already suggest more alignment between HR and FM because at the end of the day, happiness is also created by the working environment. Juliette van Hessen from Energy Up published an article earlier this month calling for more collaboration between the two departments. She states that both departments are now very aware about this theme, so why wouldn’t they work together? She advises a thorough approach: creating a program to help improve the happiness of employees continuously. Is there a blueprint available? Is this the same for each organization? Definitely not: every company, every position and every employee are unique, so make a custom-made plan for your company. Essential advice according to Juliette to make this a success: make sure the organization’s leaders support these initiatives, otherwise success cannot be guaranteed!
Stay in touch with your client
An incredible number of articles has been written about all kinds of success stories of “new workspaces”. Organizations organize in company exhibitions, build a creative lab or create play areas with skippyballs and a slide. You name it and it’s been done. However, these are examples of large and bold organizations such as Amazon, Google or AirBnb. It is just not realistic for every organization to build offices like these, as it needs a lot of investment. So, even though these articles are inspiring, how do we create inspiring offices without using your entire budget for slides? Does it mean we all have to create open workspaces? Or do we need to implement activity-based working to make us happier and more effective? According to Inc.com this is NOT what you should be doing. They publish a study in which they argue that open space offices lead to less co-working compared to when people are sitting apart. This is caused by the fact that people working in open space offices tend to make more use of online chat and e-mail instead of having face-to-face conversations. Again, we would advise to start talking to your client: someone working in a hospital has very different needs than someone working at a bank or at Google. Adjust to your client!