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On Jan 23 2020 / by Wyoming Paul

The new role of facilities managers: Shaping and improving staff experience

Facilities managers of the future are just as essential to employee engagement as they are to building maintenance

The connection between the physical workplace, services, and staff experience is now well-established, putting facilities managers in a position to significantly improve the workday for employees. By advocating for human-centric office design and digital services, facilities managers can become champions of the employee experience.

“FM teams need to help their companies balance agility with the provision of workspaces that inspire and motivate and provide all the technological tools employees need to be productive.”
- Maureen Ehrenberg, President of Global Integrated Facilities Management at JLL

Here are a few ways in which facilities managers can increase staff satisfaction, productivity, and engagement - and make the workday that much better for the whole team.

Workplace design

The design of built environments has a big impact on our mental, physical, and emotional health, influencing how positive we feel, how focused we are, and how creative and innovative our minds can be. Because of this, companies now see their workplace as an important element to staff engagement, productivity, satisfaction, and wellbeing. As a result, workplace design is becoming an increasingly important part of the facilities manager role.

Here are a few ways in which facilities managers can behave as ‘experience architects’ and influence workplace design for the betterment of staff.

Natural light

A Future Workplace survey of over 1,600 North American workers found that the most desired workspace attribute is natural light and views of the outdoors. Natural light was viewed as more important than onsite cafes, gyms, and childcare, while almost half of respondents said the absence of natural light made them feel tired, and 43 percent said it made them feel gloomy.

By ensuring that large windows and skylights are added during the construction of workplaces, or making up for a lack of natural light with effective artificial light replacements like LED, facilities managers can help employees to feel alert and positive during the workday.

Biophilic design

Design elements that aim to bring the natural world indoors is biophilic design, and it has been found to make staff happier, healthier, and more productive. In fact, one Human Spaces report found a 15 percent increase in creativity for employees working in offices with more greenery, while other research found decreases in absenteeism and increases in engagement. Examples that facilities managers can consider include indoor pot plants, green walls, or office gardens.

Acoustics

In the workplace, one of the biggest causes of lost productivity is distractions and interruptions, with background noise forming a major part of the problem. Research by Udemy about workplace distraction found that for 70 percent of respondents, office noise is a prominent distraction, with 80 percent distracted by talkative coworkers. Not only do noise distractions lead to lower employee productivity, but they also double error rates, reduce IQ scores, and make people enjoy their jobs less.

Facilities managers can make a significant difference by introducing solutions like sound-proof rooms, sound-absorbing furniture, and acoustic ceiling panels. The layout of offices is also important to consider, so that staff have both collaboration spaces and quiet work hubs available.

Staff experiences and technology

Technology can improve the staff experience, both by enabling employees to communicate and arrange their days more easily, and by accumulating data that businesses can then base improvement decisions on. For example, messaging and booking apps can improve employee engagement and remove obstacles to productivity. Instant messaging channels like Slack reduce the need for meetings and emails, while software like Skedda allows staff to book meeting rooms, and Parkable allows staff to book parking spots.

IoT technology and sensors that gathers data on workplace experiences, including space occupancy, asset use and inventory levels, allows facilities managers to respond effectively to employee needs. For example, armed with data facilities managers can adjust room temperature and lighting based on occupancy, decrease downtime of important assets, and ensure that there are sufficient workspaces for the variety of employee activities.

Free survey template: Survey your staff about their commute

With this survey, designed by a market research expert, you can find out how your staff commute and how workplace commute and parking options impact their day

Staff parking: Improving a poor staff experience with technology

Staff parking has a significant impact on employee engagement and productivity, particularly when businesses have more staff than parking spots. Before EMD and Dentsu Aegis implemented a car park management solution, some staff used scarce, time-restricted street parking, resulting in both anxious mornings and the need to check and move their cars a number of times each day. Staff worried about parking tickets, broke the flow of work, and wasted time finding another parking spot and then walking back to the office.

This is despite the finding that on average, 20-35% of commercial car parks sit vacant during the workday, often because car parks are allocated to people who are away from the office. Instead of letting your space sit empty while staff search for expensive parking elsewhere, you can enable easy sharing of allocated parks and improve occupancy with platforms like Parkable.

As well as improving the parking experience for staff, Parkable drastically reduces car park administration for facilities managers. The platform automatically resolves parking issues, integrates with access control and other hardware, simplifies management of multiple locations, compiles real-time data into comprehensive occupancy reports, and provides real-time occupancy tracking.

Want to find out more? Check out how KPMG facilities managers improved staff parking experiences while eliminating time-consuming admin.

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