Workplace of the future

18th of September 2017
Workplace of the future
Workplace of the future

Global facilities service provider ISS has opened its new German headquarters in Düsseldorf with the theme ‘Workplace of the Future’. In the building the company is showcasing a new working culture entitled ‘New Ways of Working’ and all building services are being driven using smart technology. ECJ editor Michelle Marshall visited to find out more.

The ways in which people work are changing rapidly. With more employees working flexibly or remotely, some office spaces are underused and that is prompting a shift in the design of workplaces – with the aim of improving productivity and encouraging greater collaboration between colleagues.

The ‘workplace’ as such is still very relevant; its purpose though is changing. Companies are now asking more questions about whether workplaces fit their brand, whether they reflect the people who are going to be there and whether they work for the community. The workplace is actually reinventing itself as a place where people enjoy working.

In a 2016 UK survey about workplace satisfaction by YouGov/Savills/British Council for Offices, 85 per cent of employees said the design of their workplace is important to them. Fifty-eight per cent said it contributes to a sense of community at work; 57 per cent said it creates an enjoyable environment to work in; 57 per cent agreed it enables them to work productively; and 51 per cent commented it’s a place they’re proud to bring visitors to.

Global facility services provider ISS is embracing these trends, both in terms of how workspaces are configured and how building services are then delivered, through its initiative New Ways of Working.  It recently opened its new German headquarters in Düsseldorf under the slogan Workplace of the Future. Called The Lab it will serve the 200 employees as a laboratory to use and developing modern workplace solutions.

Frank Born, facility management head of marketing and public relations at ISS Germany explains: “We are creating a new working culture, giving our employees a broader creative freedom through
modern office design. Every employee will be able to choose based on projects where, how and with whom he would like to work with. Several working areas will provide new opportunities to exchange ideas and knowledge.”

In the new building there are various zones for different working requirements. The Home Base is the area where staff do their daily work with their teammates. Then there are Meeting Zones, Quiet Zones, Brain Points (for brainstorming), Quick Desks, Bubble Gum (flexible, multipurpose rooms), and Creative Spaces.

At the heart of the workplace of the future is the user experience at each stage of their journey through a building. Everything from entering the building; getting a drink; having meetings and handling mail to working in the building; getting snacks; going for lunch – the building must be personal, intuitive and user-friendly.

FM 4.0 has become possible because of technology, particularly sensor data and artificial intelligence. Data is gathered throughout the building that allows optimisation and automation of services, enabling the service provider to understand better how the building is being used and how to improve their operations.

At the German ISS HQ there are 500 sensors throughout the building measuring parameters including light, room occupancy, washroom dispensers, temperature, movement, energy, humidity and carbon dioxide. These sensors can be installed on doors, windows, chairs, tables, meeting rooms and on air conditioning systems for example. All services are then driven according to data gathered and analysed by the ‘smart’ building.

Responsible for providing those facility services at the Düsseldorf building is Anders Pennerup Gantzhorn, managing director for ISS IT and business services. He heads up the German ISS division serving business services and IT customers (the other German customer segments are energy, automotive, pharmaceutical, specialized services and direct), and at the German HQ he operates on the same parameters as on any client sites.

User experience

He explains: “What we want to do is to create one company, one brand. The look, the feel, the atmosphere must all be the same.” The contract is output-based and run on three KPI’s:
• Productivity of users in the building
• Satisfaction of users
• Connectivity of users – how they connect with other building users.

“As a service provider I am judged on those parameters.”

The operation works on the basis of the ISS Touchpoint concept – all the points in the building where the user will interact with the service provider.

Pennerup Gantzhorn explains: “The first Touchpoint for example, could be on Monday morning where an employee is sitting in traffic and stressing about finding a parking space when they get to work. In the future we will be able to inform users about space availability and, if necessary, reserve a space for them.”

Within this building there are 16 Touchpoints. Number one, for example, is the greeting of users at reception. “Receptionists are trained to know everyone by name, and we also have facial recognition cameras so everyone can be greeted.

“Every Touchpoint focuses on the experience we want to offer the building user,” adds Pennerup Gantzhorn. “Our client doesn’t care about number of cleaning hours, he cares about a clean building.”

So how does this New Way of Working impact on the cleaning operation in particular? The sensors throughout the building are already changing the way in which operatives work. “For example we have sensors in all our washroom dispensers that measure the number of users,” explains Pennerup Gantzhorn. “That enables us to organise cleans after a certain number of visitors, for example. And that detail can go as far as cleaning only certain cubicles in the washroom based on usage – all the data is available thanks to the sensors.

“Now we have just one cleaner in the building all day and that is sufficient as they are not doing constant checks and other unnecessary tasks. This brings important cost saving and productivity gains.”

At 18.30 four cleaners arrive with their work plan and by 07.00 the next morning the building has to be exactly the same as it was on the first day it opened. That includes desks cleared, adjusted to the same height, etc. No detail is left to chance. “This German HQ is a lab, a showroom of what ISS as a company can offer.”

For the cleaning operatives working at the building this has meant a significant change in how they have been used to working. “They now feel much more empowered,” says Pennerup Gantzhorn. “Because we are giving them the power to make decisions.”

While the high-tech smart solutions are making their mark on how cleaning services are delivered, ultimately the cleaning itself remains a manual and often labour-intensive task. That’s why there is still a strong focus within ISS of providing operatives with the right tools and training in the best methods. This is the responsibility of Anja Wrede, project management excellence centre cleaning.

“These aspects are just as key in achieving productivity rates,” she explains. “We never neglect issues such as materials, water consumption, the right pads, and all the vital knowledge for doing the job.”

Tailored and automated

The automated service workflow concept is still in its infancy, and ISS is now working on how cleaning services can be further tailored to user needs, and automated. Data provides information on how often rooms have been cleaned and systems maintained, and artificial intelligence can precisely prioritise when and where employees should be deployed in the most productive way.

Ingo Hüttemeier, head of customer care centre and IOT for ISS Germany, is part of the team developing the IT solutions for front-line cleaning. “Our objective is to centralise, optimise and increase efficiency using the Internet of Things (IOT). To create work only where it is needed.”

He continues: “Sensors throughout this ISS building for example, detect movement in every area. For cleaning that’s very important – if a room has not been used, don’t clean it.”

The development work is now being done on how to get that information to the cleaner – the plan is to use mobile devices where room information can be delivered and cleaning tasks listed. Navigation of the work sequence will be simple so no areas can be missed and pictograms will be the primary method of communication given the international nature of ISS’ business.

“In the future, we believe operatives will not only be cleaners,” says Hüttemeier. “They will be performing other maintenance tasks in the room they are cleaning, for example.

“Many people ask: is the Internet of Things relevant to a cleaning job? We believe it absolutely is and it will enable our employees to evolve into becoming involved in other services – they could be responsible for taking care of all aspects of an entire area for example. This requires a significant culture change and a great deal of training of course – but it makes their job more fulfilling and far more rewarding,” he concludes.

ISS’ German HQ is a showcase of what’s possible, the future of workplaces and how services will be delivered to them. That will continue to evolve in the years to come and the company is now keen to share its work with clients, and to implement these New Ways of Working at customer sites internationally.

Dr Alexander Granderath, country manager at ISS for Germany explains: “We are eager to invite as many people as possible to learn and explore with us what the future of property and workplace management really means and how the industry will change in the next few years.”


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