Specialists in FM, property and ICT must learn to view the workplace as an integrated whole. And facilities managers, in particular, must learn to speak the language of the boardroom.

These critical messages emerged clearly from the 2008 Workplace Futures conference, designed specifically to look at emerging issues in the industry over the next five years and actions needed now to prepare effectively.

Speaker presentations and delegate discussions revealed three key themes:

  • First, the need to understand and approach the workplace as a whole rather than as a set of components, whether the context is project work, ongoing management or future strategy. This implies much closer cooperation between property, ICT and facilities services, whether working in-house or on behalf of a shared client. It is also a pointer towards the skill sets that many client organisations will expect their providers to offer in future.
  • Second, the needs at most client organisations fall into the category of change management. Moving towards greater operational efficiency or a streamlined property portfolio is not about one or more individual projects. Success here hinges on a process of change, which again means any service provider requires a view of the ‘big picture’ and the ability to deliver the range of skills called for.
  • Third, the fundamental driver behind much of the change moving through the industry is people. The need to attract and retain good staff (or ‘the war for talent’ as it is often called in some sectors) is increasingly shaping business management and workplace decisions. FM – and each allied discipline – is expected to make a contribution to winning this war.