Each of the last three years in November, I have had the privilege, along with three other IFMA leaders, of lecturing at the IFM-Kongress at the Vienna University of Technology. As the guests of Dr. Alexander Redlein, who heads a Masters program in FM in the Business School, we all gave lectures at the Kongress and this year as well as teaching two courses for the FM Masters students on the weekend. The Kongress this year focused on new ways of working, corporate social responsibility, wellness and performance. I will give a synopsis of some of the best presentations, as well as the pre- and post-conference activities.
Pre-Kongress – Current Research
The day before the Kongress, the IFMA delegates are given presentations by various TU professors on their latest research in the built environment from different areas of the university. This is the third year that we have been able to hear about the latest work from Dr. Iva Koviac, who is a Civil Engineering professor as well as an architect, which gives her a very unique perspective on her topic, BIM. While there are many definitions of what BIM is, Dr. Koviac argues that it is “a new planning methodology where one can visualize problems, but not necessarily solve them.” And since BIM for FM is still in the early stages of adoption, she feels that BIM use throughout the entire building life-cycle is “still a dream.” She also mentions that there are only two companies that dominate the building technology industry, Trimble and Autodesk.
Franz Heizinger, CFO of Mondi Europe and International: New Ways of Working and the Impact on the Internal Organization. Mondi is a global paper and packaging company with 25,000 people in 30 countries which has been in operation since the end of the 18th century. However, the organization is not set in old ways and is innovative in the way it has created a strong culture of respect for its employees who Mondi calls “exceptional people”. It is called the “Mondi Way” and it values the workplace in supporting the inspiration and development of their workforce. This was a powerful message as a keynote presentation since it was coming from the CFO of an organization who encourages “new ways of working” and supports this with the creation of exceptional workplaces.
Diane Coles Levine (Workplace Management Solutions), a member of both the IFMA Board of Directors and IFMA Foundation Board of Trustees, New Ways of Working at ASICS: Using Workplace as a Marketing, Employee Attraction and Retention Tool. Diane’s co-presenter could not be at the conference due to work demands, but she is the Director of HR for the athletic clothing company ASICS. This case study, as with the previous one, demonstrates the importance of workplace to the C-level in this company. Diane served as a workplace strategist to enable ASICS to carry out their vision and move into their new US headquarters in Orange County, California. Their facilities were designed as a branding showcase for their key account visits and included athletics references throughout, including a full size gym and court where elite athletes were invited to work out. ASIC’s motto is “We Empower Employees to Stop at Never” and in order to do this they created an environment which fosters collaboration, creativity and wellness.
- Pat Turnbull, IFMA Board of Directors, How Workplace Strategy Can Support Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Pat is on the IFMA Board of Directors and is the President and COO of Kayhan, a mid-size furniture dealer in Chicago. She proved in her presentation that there is a strong ROI for adopting CSR:
She talked about the concept of “value reporting” which describes how the company is performing in terms of not only economic criteria, but social and environmental. And how the new emphasis on the “wellbeing” of employees is one of the many areas where facility management has a role to play in CSR as can be seen how the workplace contributes in its use throughout the workday:
Finally she described how CSR is a mantra that has influenced the culture and performance measurement of her own company which ended an insightful presentation to the group and prompted many interesting questions.
- Dr. Alex Redlein, TU Wien, CSR and FM. This was a presentation that furthered Pat’s talk of the importance of FM to CSR. Dr. Redlein and a co-researcher have just published in the Journal of FM (which was given out at the conference), albeit in German, the results of analyzing 90 CSR reports (from Austria, Germany, Europe and North America) and determining how many mentioned FM (15% of financial institutions). And though a low number, in reality the categories listed like energy, waste, space efficiency etc. are the responsibility of FM and should be called out. Therefore, it is Dr. Redlein’s suggestion that FMs go to their marketing departments who most likely produce the report, point this out to them and get the proper attention FM deserves in the CSR reporting.
I’ll tell you about the post-Kongress events later this week.