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The place for productivity. By Greg Davies from BIFM's Sustainability Blog

26-04-17, 10:10

With the second of Quora's three Smartworking Summits, supported by BIFM, exploring the impact of the changing nature of work on the employee lifecycle journey taking place on June 7, Greg Davies from BIFM's Sustainability Special Interest Group shares his key takeaways from the first summit that was held in March.

Productivity has been defined as "the measure of the efficiency of a person, thing or system, in converting inputs into useful outputs". So why can so simple a definition lead to so much discussion? Put FM, HR and property professionals in a room and ask them to debate 'understanding workplace productivity' and you will get the answer.

This was the challenge set at one of the round table discussions as part of the last Quora Smartworking Summit, which was co-sponsored by BIFM. Following a series of six thought-provoking presentations covering both personal and professional perspectives on the conference theme of 'the impact of the changing nature of work on the employee lifecycle journey', the afternoon was taken up with the round table work.

The initial obvious focus of defining productivity mirrored the definition (if in a slightly less prosaic fashion; how much you have done?) - and the financial measure was a clear front runner.

Perhaps influenced by Cafcass CEO Anthony Douglas and his presentation comments that shelves are covered in books unread where the writer has not sufficiently engaged with the reader to continue beyond the first few paragraphs, our discussions turned to actual outputs versus relevance of output. Concluding that productivity means different things to different organisations, its measurement would also vary in terms of consistency and delivery of output, so what might influence future success?

The proposed measures/influences that came up included:

> Personal - happiness and wellbeing are core to a productive workforce. With ethics, social value, work/life blend and wellbeing all increasing on the corporate sustainability agenda, the benefits for productivity in staff retention, recruitment and reputation (ie caring employer) are clear.

> Choice of productive environments - technology is providing many employers with a work anywhere capability. However, for all the choice available over flexibility, location and time, providing conditions conducive to productive work, such as good levels of air and water quality, occupancy comfort and lighting, must also be actively managed considerations.

> Buy in - good communication with shared and holistic vision. Is the C-suite view of productivity too departmentalised and, if so, does this promote or stifle overall effectiveness? Is there an advantage in embedding more cross-functional roles across the organisation - collaboration, relationships, coherence and so productivity?

If any of these activities resulted in each person taking one day less per year sick/unwell, one less person attending a meeting or one decision made on a better understanding, what difference could it make?

Well, that is up to you and your organisation, but FM has a significant role to play. The people, place, process theme of future measures is no coincidence and surely a huge opportunity.

To summarise, and returning to the book analogy, a successful output could be a 500-page novel, but a successful outcome is getting the reader beyond the first few paragraphs.

> As a BIFM partner event, BIFM members can take advantage of an additional 20% early bird offer if they book to attend the next Smartworking Summit before 12 May. You can find more information about the event and how to book here.

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