It is fascinating to listen to the different aspects Nick and his team had to take into consideration when they managed a number of moves and refurbishments for their legal practice. They have learnt valuable lessons at each of them, which come very handy for another big office re-design at their Norwich premises.
Operational and Strategic Role
Nick Brook is the first Facilities professional on the podcast, and I was very keen to explore with him what are the different elements that he needs to take into consideration. As Head of Facilities he and his team are responsible for a Safe and Healthy work environment for the approximately 900 employees, as well as being in charge of catering, security, archiving, refurbishments, fit-outs and Environmental Sustainability too. If you think this is already a lot, he is also in charge of Business continuity, which is defined as the capability of the organization to continue delivery of products or services at acceptable predefined levels following a disruptive incident.
Ask questions and explain the options
Mills & Reeve is the only legal practice on the Sunday Times' 100 Best Companies To Work For list, and has been on there for the past 14 years. They are very proud of this and make sure it remains so. They thrive to give a great work experience to all those working for them, from trainees to partners, from support staff to people working on the administrative aspects. However, with every move and refurbishment, there are trade-offs.
Nobody can get everything they want all the time!
This is a very important consideration. In any given company or organisation, your employees will have different backgrounds, preferences, work styles and lives outside of work. Even if we often contest the "one-size-fits-all" solutions for work-life integration, moving into a new space, renovating and existing space will work perhaps more for some, and less for others.
Nick generously shares a number of lessons learnt during the office refurbishment and moves to new premises he was overseeing in the past years. They always ask questions before the move, listen to those resisting change, and also conduct a post-occupancy survey 6 months after the team has settled into the new environment.
Get creative with your policies!
Sometimes the best possible solution can have a big drawback. Once the decision has been made, the next step is to explain to employees why this has been considered and the decided for, and how the employer will manage the new constraint to ensure that there are some positive outcomes as well. Nick illustrates this process with an example about a major trade-off in parking space for employees. This new constraint on the one hand provided an opportunity for promoting culture change, such as car-sharing, cycling to work with shower and change facilities, but also flexibility in specific cases, if someone has a doctor's appointment during the day and need to take their car to and from, or if someone anticipates working late, they can book a parking space. The emphasis is on transparency, information and fairness. This way even perhaps some of the least popular changes will become accepted by the workforce.
This podcast was created through our media partnership with the Work 2.0 event organised in London on 25-26 May 2017.