Beyond the Hierarchy

Today, modern offices are frequently designed to be less hierarchical.

In practice, this has seen a significant shift towards open-plan working, hot-desking, and the principle that individuals should freely circulate around the office. In doing so, they will develop their own informal networks and thrive in a more collegiate environment.

With the financial appeal of down-sizing property portfolios an added incentive, the traditional office is becoming, for many organisations, a symbol of a bygone era.

Deloitte is one business that has already embraced these more modern methods. "We have a very diverse set of people working in very different sectors of professional services. At one extreme, we have people who are based at their desk all day and who require a monitor and a desk. At the other, we have people out and about travelling or seeing clients, in multiple locations, and they're sharing three or four people to one desk," says Simon Booth, director, property and corporate services group, with responsibility for the firm's internal environment.

Facilities management is increasingly involved earlier in the process, when such set-ups are designed, he says, with the ultimate aim being to provide people with a greater choice around how and where they work.

Andrew Mawson, managing director of Advanced Workplace Associates, believes facilities management has a core role to play in identifying just what staff require and ensuring they have the tools with which to do their job. "We see an evolution where you have a 'workplace manager', who needs to take responsibility for all of the systems and facilities that enables them to do their best work and do it anywhere," he says.

But FM also has to be aware of changing requirements. "In the traditional world, you have a team of 100 people and you allocate 100 spaces — basically pretty straightforward," he says.

For Mawson, the overall headcount is no longer as visible — you may have 120 people and have decided that 100 seats would deal with their daily demands. "But after three months," he says, "that particular group may have grown by 20, or your headcount may go down."

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on May 23, 2013