My brief is this:
I’ll start with a total recognition that many of these are key whatever sector you’re in, but of course, there are things peculiar and unique to FM’s world, so some of these will have a specific twist in that context. Whilst I don’t work in the FM field, my field is the workplace which is all-encompassing. And certainly not just white-collar or executive fields.
What I see in my research “expeditions”, in my lecturing at Business Schools, and in my consulting work with clients is that all of these things matter to not just professional leaders but to the very people who do all the work.
Difference – and that’s the word I use a lot instead of diversity – is our search for relevance, inclusion, meaning, purpose, individuality and connectedness. I’ve been to places and in rooms where I’ve felt and looked different. My privileges don’t always stand certain extremities of being different, but nonetheless, I felt comfortable with difference. Yet my lived experiences will be very anodyne compared to others of different race, ability, gender, sexual orientation, age, faith or socio-economic background.
I am pleased though, that I do help others appreciate difference in many dimensions that somewhat override protected characteristics <as my profession (HR) refers to it>. Difference in experience, rank/role, of thought, creativity, energy, aspirations and what people value. I work to create conditions that privileges, archetypes and stereotypes, social norms and fixed mindsets and traditional expectations are replaced with an openness of mind, heart and will; with understanding and application of more considerate, kind and thoughtful ways of being and more natural inclusion, merit and activism.
I wrote a book in 2017 called Transformational HR. And in it, I called for more appreciation that all businesses are fictions with the reality only being the people, the place and impact of what we do as collective endeavours. I called it making an adventure out of a business venture.
This is not some click-bait, trendy appeal for overly happy workplaces – more a recognition that there’s work to be done on what we call – and experience – as work.
It’s a recognition that things like the space we go to for work – be it virtual or physical – has to feel like it inspires, protects and develops us. It’s where FM’s role in a creating (as the Edelman Trust Barometer 2018 called it) a safe house. A place where meaning, purpose, value, support, fulfilment, learning and most of all flourishing states of humanness can be part of the fabric of work.
It may sound trite, but I simply don’t believe that all work has to be dull, demeaning, devaluing and dehumanising. And where it is, like buildings that are not fit for purpose, someone has designed, decided upon and deemed satisfactory those subhuman conditions.
That’s the crime to outlaw. The ruling to appeal against. The abomination to protest about.
HR, FM and IT have a role here. To allow flexibility. To create choices. And design in adaptability; so that people can shape work to their lives, preferences and needs.
“But that’s impossible” many will say. For the business need is the sacred cornerstone of every responsible, adaptable and capable organisation.
I’d argue that what a business needs is people who believe in it; work towards its reason for being and look after the people the organisation is set up to support – its customers.
I’ve seen examples where people do that. Whether in a retail store, community nursing or in manufacturing plants.
And the equation is always that triangulation of people; technology and space.
At the FM conference, I will share some of my stories and research-based beliefs and hope they inspire you to design, decide and deliver the best possible space for people to use the best possible tools and have the best possible experience at this thing we’ve come to love, loathe or lumber through – work.
It’s time to design that better future of work, together, now.
Founder and Chief Energy Officer: PTHR
Author: Transformational HR
HR Most Influential Thinker 2017 and 2018
Adjunct Faculty: Hult International Business School