04th March 2015

As the name suggests, the annual Workplace Futures conference which was held recently by i-FM certainly didn’t disappoint, providing some thought provoking perspectives on just what the workplace of the future might reflect and the expected impact of this on Facilities Managers and the Facilities Management industry as a whole.

Urban transport of the future?

Aptly held in the futuristic surroundings of The Crystal in east London, the Siemens run initiative and venue, which hosts the world’s largest exhibition on urban sustainability, provided a bright and inspiring place to meet and chat with colleagues from across the industry.

Emirates Cable Car -The Facilities Manager of the future

I was able to arrive in style on the very unique Emirates Airline, one of London’s newest forms of transport, which was a great start to the day.  It certainly got me in the mind-set for thinking about the future.  As a form of transport which in the past has been predominantly used in mountain resorts to allow travellers and adventure seekers to easily scale the peaks, it was great to see how this wonderfully relaxing form of transport was being adapted for the usually busy urban environment.

So what were the stand-out themes from the day?

Data driven Facilities Management

With the overarching theme of the conference being the convergence and integration of people, process and FM in relation to the workplace, it was no surprise that the conference was opened with a focus on technology and the importance of data.  Paul Foster, Principal Technical Evangelist at Microsoft UK, looked at how the growing data culture was helping Microsoft’s workplaces to reduce energy consumption by 20 – 25%.  Although this was the tip of the iceberg (… pardon the pun…) in relation to the impact of the data culture and the expected future impact of technology to drive this within the workplace.

With the rise in cloud computing power and accessibility providing the essential and cost-effective backbone, Paul talked about how this level of automation was already being used by Microsoft itself to change the way in which it managed its own buildings, influencing decisions on everything from retro-fitting to smart building optimisation.

Paul also provided an insight into one of Microsoft’s latest innovations, the Microsoft Hololens, the wearable technology that we may well see many of our more technical colleagues wearing in the not so distant future. The new technology allowed instant visualisation of data combined with technology to allow virtual communication with the right experts to undertake a variety of more technical tasks across the workspace.  When considered, this could have a profound impact on the way we deliver technical and maintenance services in the future.

Hololens - The Facilities Manager of the future

Embracing the digitisation and socialisation of the workforce

Recent themes which have received much attention such as; the convergence of digital technology, the move towards the ‘5G’ multi-generational workplace, the increase in agile working and the resulting changes in office usage across the UK and beyond were discussed in detail by a variety of speakers, but the fundamental effects on people were put into very sharp focus by the exuberant and cravat-wearing Perry Timms of PTHR.

In fact, Perry’s predictions were that energy would be a key factor and certainly not that of the renewables or traditional fossil fuels kind.  The effect on people’s energy and energies within the workplace formed the basis of his discussion.  Working digitally, he discussed, had profound implications for the way we view traditional working patterns.  With increased digitisation and socialisation of work this would most notably impact on a speeding up of learning and adapting to change.  He predicted that in many ways, social media and its effect on the workplace would have a silo-busting effect to create a convergence on workplace opportunity.

Perry believed that success in the new social era would lie in going back to the basics of what really drives people in relation to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  Simple really – by more effectively harnessing people’s energies in the workspace and by designing spaces and associated services to create a more active workplace, this would allow organisations to really harness the power of their workforce’s “collective intelligence”.  This is something which is gathering momentum everyday and is already seen as many within FM circles as being a key area of Facilities Management and workplace management for the future.

However, as was once again emphasised by Tim Oldman of the Leesman Index, we still have a long way to go on this, with only 53% of employees believing the design of their workspace allows them to work productively, from a survey of over 84,000 people.

Leesman Index Presentation - The Facilities Manager of the future

So if the purpose of the day was to stimulate the minds of the delegates by stopping and looking at the emerging landscape of the workplace, the converging technologies that are affecting it and weave in some serious consideration for the human condition……it certainly succeeded.  #AnabasFocus #WPFUT #facman

All presentations from the conference can be found at:



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