cool office

Why more employers are investing in 'cool' offices

cool officeIf you think “cool” offices are confined to slightly off the wall startups in the trendier bits of London and Manchester, think again. A study reported in the Facilities Management Journal found that a third of employers had added a “cool” element to their workplaces, in order to increase productivity and bolster staff morale.

Cycle storage, showers, bean bags and quiet spaces are all being added, in an attempt to improve employee wellbeing. As contented staff are not combing LinkedIn for a new position every Monday morning, there are plenty of benefits for the employer.

In fact, the study also revealed that 20% of workers have left a job because they didn’t like the surroundings they had to work in. Given the expense of recruiting staff, employers see the cost-benefit of any investment that will boost staff retention. Another bonus is that these kinds of facilities can be used to attract new talent into the organisation.

More than bike racks and bean bags

Facilities managers now need to be able to provide a wide range of cool features when they furnish workspaces, with the main emphasis very much on health and wellbeing. An impressive 40% of employers believe that reducing stress and improving employee well-being pays off with increased productivity and better attendance.

So lunchtime yoga and fitness sessions, gyms, games rooms, and even indoor play equipment such as slides, are all now becoming more common. One of the developments that are interesting for facilities management professionals is to see the way in which physical furnishings, such as sofas and relaxation pods, are part of an integrated approach to wellbeing that may also include lunchtime talks or bringing pets to work. One can’t help wondering whether some staff may not find the office manager’s pet tarantula a little less than relaxing, however.

What’s holding back this movement?

Those employers who aren’t intending to give their staff any new wellbeing facilities are not necessarily present day Scrooges. Although 17% think that the cool office trend is a fad that will pass, for nearly half, the overwhelming problem is lack of space. Where this rules out space-hungry features such as quiet rooms and relaxation pods, employers are still able to offer employees many of the facilities they now want. For example, where there isn’t enough room for a gym and shower, employers are offering discounts on local gyms and healthy eating restaurants. They’re arranging for motivational speakers to come in during the lunch hour or giving staff free access to fitness classes and local swimming pools.

One thing is certain - the trend for remote working, with employees paying only occasional visits to the office, will increase the pressure on facilities management companies to provide an environment that is welcoming and that aids productivity. The office will need to justify its cost, by providing more than a desk, a PC and a phone. The extra perks will change over time, but the days of lateral desking in tones of beige, and a dingy coffee area may have gone - much to the relief of many staff.


Tips on switching careers into FM

ChecklistIf you're thinking about switching to a career in facilities management, try the self-assessment questions below, to give yourself the best chance of success. 

1. What interests you, what can you do, and what do you value? 
Try to answer these questions as honestly as you can, because they are key to building insight into what motivates you and makes you tick. You can also try the questions in reverse - what bores you, what are you bad at, and what do you think is not worthwhile? But focus more strongly on the positive versions because you’ll need to keep positive for your job search and career change. 

2. Why are you dissatisfied with your current job?
Again, you’re developing insights which will help you to decide on your future direction. It can help to keep a work diary (not on a work PC!). Use the diary entries to figure out whether it's the company’s culture, your particular role, or the people you work with that are making you want to seek new opportunities. 

3. Which FM job would be right for you?
Facilities management covers a range of activities, in a very diverse set of environments and companies. Try looking at a recruitment site, and checking the job descriptions for FM jobs, noting down the kind of role that appeals to you. 

4. Start building your network
Try and make contact with people in your chosen slice of facilities management. Read the trade press, go to trade shows, or respond to blogs written by specialists in the industry. 

5. You probably have access to an FM professional already
You could start by talking to the facilities people in the building you currently work in. It’s amazing how much useful business intelligence on opportunities and companies you can gather through casual conversations. 

6. Explore online 
Use job networking sites such as LinkedIn, and social media such as Instagram and Facebook, to identify anyone working in the industry that you may be able to contact discreetly. Don’t say that you’re looking to change career unless you are ready to move job, because your current employer may see the post. 

7. Start thinking about your CV
When you read online job descriptions, start thinking about aspects of your experience that would be relevant, even though you’ve been in a different industry. For example, team leading, working with people and planning are widely applicable.

8. Get qualified
At the very least, find out what qualifications you would need. Many employers will send staff on courses - take a look at the qualifications most often requested in job ads that interest you and gain any pre-entry certificates that you need.

9. Start to move in the new direction
If you’re offered training in your current job, try and make it something that would be relevant to your potential FM career - a project management qualification is always a good option. 

10. If necessary, use a stepping stone
You may not be able to get to the job you want in one step. You may need to move sideways or to take a role in FM that will give you the experience you need to qualify for the job you really want.