IT or Facilities: Who should take ownership of collaboration spaces?

Let’s face it, traditionally IT and facilities management were in their own separate business silos. Reporting into different parts of the businesses, too often the communication between them was little to none.

These days, there’s a pressing need for collaboration between the two. But, have we moved along with the times? Do modern businesses adopt this free-flowing communication strategy? And if not, what’s stopping us? The first thing to think about, is why it’s beneficial to take a joined-up approach.

Changes within the way businesses operate are the driving force behind the need for collaboration. It may also be the thorn in your side if you’re an IT manager looking to create a more streamlined way of working.

Inside the modern workplace

It’s no exaggeration to say that we all need each other in the modern workplace. You only need to take a broad view of the look and feel of businesses today to see just how much has changed.

There’s a lot more noise around the idea of employee well-being. And things like collaborative workspaces, decked out with everything from ergonomic desk setups to sit-stands can start creeping into the two, once separate domains of both facilities management and IT.

Rather than being a bit of a fad, there is substantial research to back up the ideology of new healthier workspaces. Big figures, like 87% of employees would like to see healthier workspace benefits such as ergonomic seating can give you an idea of current attitudes. And 97% of those in the tech industry would stay longer with a company if they offered healthier options like wellness rooms.

Collaboration is the key

So, while people are demanding ergonomic workstations and healthier benefits, some departments are left bumping into each other in a bid to fulfil requirements. It’s easy to see how two once disparate powers of IT and facilities management need to meet in the middle.

Workplaces are more about the collaborative feel, from the space themselves, to the way they all blend together, department to department. There are huge benefits to be gained too, aside from maintaining employee wellbeing. For instance, cross-department working can help:

  1. Boost the effectiveness of individual departments
  2. Provide a fresh approach to tackling problems
  3. Increase appreciation of each department’s efforts and challenges

When it comes to honing the environment to create something that’s future-proof and fit-for-purpose, this is all positive stuff. And if it also allows your department to work harder, smarter and more in tune with the rest of the business, what could be better?

Facilities and IT: where the lines blur

Although the overarching idea of collaborating to create effective workspaces sounds good, how does this effect you, the IT team, on a daily basis.

In an environment where IT teams need to justify their efforts in every area, working together with facilities management could be the very answer you’re looking for. The blurring of lines between the two departments lies very much in the adoption of new software. Things like the IoT and SaaS are changing the face of IT as we know it.

Trends like remote working are another. At the same time, facilities management teams are under pressure to brush up on their tech skills.

It doesn’t take too much out-the-box thinking to see how one could help the other. As tech becomes more integrated into workspaces, the two need a good knowledge of the other in order to be effective.

Best practices for collaboration

It could be said, that for our mutual survival, both IT and FM need to pull together. But that still leaves the questions of how a spirit of collaboration can be nurtured, and how you can put a practical plan in place. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Get to know each other, and discover what your team’s challenges are
  2. Try cross-team-building workshops
  3. Use communication tools to open up a continual dialogue between teams

Ultimately, each business will have its own considerations when approaching collaboration. But one common theme is communication. Only through this, can you start to build a solid way of working together.

In conclusion

Until fairly recently, both IT and facilities management went about their business without any need to interact. Technology and new approaches to collaborative working across the board have changed all that. It’s also created unique threats for IT teams, as well as putting pressure on facilities management. The weather this storm, both departments need to work closely together.

Breaking down a lifetime of old habits can be tricky at best. But starting with open conversation and finding ways to leverage active communication across the departments is an important first step.

From there, it’s just a case of troubleshooting the issues you share and helping each other to work more efficiently. That way, you’ll be on the road to creating a brighter future all round.