13th May 2015

As we head to the BIFM’s annual conference, ThinkFM, the focus is clearly on how FM can work to add competitive advantage in the workplace and will no doubt continue the wider debate around the convergence of FM and HR and the recent workplace conversation.  One element of the workplace that appears to have been brought into very sharp focus recently, due to hitting the national headlines, is the effect of the growing amount of sedentary work that we do as a society. This was discussed at last week’s BIFM WIFM and BIFM Workplace joint SIG which featured a presentation from Gavin Bradley from Get Britain Standing.

As expected, in the spirit of the event, we were encouraged to sit and stand throughout, which, as events go, made for a very dynamic event and one where people were able to interact and easily connect. The impression which I was predominantly left with following the event was – if this is the effect of the sit-stand principle on a small-scale event, if truly embraced within the workplace surely this could start to address some of the current issues of how we work and our overall productivity.

As someone with a passion for fitness and keeping active I don’t need to be convinced about the benefits of the concept, however some of the statistics quoted still surprised me and really got me thinking about why it is so important. It is well documented that as a society we have lost over 50% of activity in our working lives over the last 50 years, but it’s what that is doing to us that is most worrying. In fact, it was quoted that any more than 90 minutes sitting and the metabolism starts to slow quickly, increasing the risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke, which are all well documented. In fact only yesterday this was again in the news, as a result of resent research published on the growing number of strokes being reported in people in their 40’s and 50s. However less reported is the growing cases of back and neck problems arising in the younger generations and the effects on mental health that more sedentary work is having.

But what does this mean for Facilities Management? Furniture and office layout are clearly important when looking at making a workplace more active, however, perhaps it is also the wider aspects of how FM’s will adapt to operate within a much more active workspace. By the looks of it, if we do start to truly embrace the sit stand approach this will have a big effect on the way that we work and will inherently change the way that we all use the workspace and how it is managed, putting the FM in a strong position to support the organisation in embracing and developing a healthier workplace and demanding a much more active style of management across the workplace. Despite the fact that the idea of the active workplace is still a relatively new concept for many organisations, the true competitive advantage of the workplace may quickly start to be realised when people start to question it within their decision making. The same people who may be employees and customers. As one colleague rightly questioned at the event last week, it may not be too long before potential employees are asking the question at interview: Is your organisation an active workplace? Once that question is in the mainstream, the impact of the workplace, how it is managed by FM’s and the competitive advantage that it brings will be clear. #GetBritainStanding #AnabasFocus

Louise Dougan, Marketing Manager



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