WIAR heeft in de afgelopen jaren verschillende artikelen gepubliceerd op het raakvlak van organisatie, mens, werk en werkomgeving.

Eworking: the facility management turn

E-working: The Facility manager’s turn
The crucial role of the Facility Manager within place- and time dependant organization.

By: Michael G.M. Geerdink, Msc, MMC, and Rosanna Lopes, MBA

Introduction: E-working as a current issue
In the Netherlands, you don’t have to get stuck in traffic twice a day to acknowledge that accessibility is a major problem and a daily annoyance to many people. Just last year the number of traffic jams increased by 7,2% compared to 2005 and traffic increased by 26% since the year 2000.
The measures stated in the governmental bill on Mobility from the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, that were supposed to decrease the number of traffic jams to 60% of the number registered in 2000, have had little effect until now. The construction of new roads is very expensive and isn’t a long lasting solution in this time of “Global warming” and CO2 emission cutbacks.
This continuing problem leads to delays, waste of energy, annoyance, health problems and environmental damage. Flexibility in working hours is an absolute must.

The logistic problems of The Netherlands ltd.
The Netherlands has a vicious logistical problem that calls for a drastic approach.
For years we’ve known that smart use of Computer Technology, especially since the introduction of broadband internet access, makes a valuable contribution to the prevention of more traffic congestions that await us.
Meanwhile, governmental policy on this subject reflects insufficient concern. A very successful tax measure called “Home-use PC project”, which enabled employees to purchase a personal computer for private or even for business purposes through their employers, was abolished. In addition, the earlier mentioned Governmental Bill doesn’t even contain the words Telework or E-Work. Mobility doesn’t seem to be a hot item to companies, while the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands came to the conclusion that there are in fact enough resources to work differently. We just don’t seem to use them.

Considering the complexity of the mobility problem, the government, employers and employees should work together. The Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management should have a directing and encouraging role within this cooperation. It’s important to reward good behaviour in stead of punishing unwanted behaviour (mobility). Broadband holds prospect when it comes to the solution for this problem. First of all knowledge and experience with E-working should be combined; to keep the wheel from being re-invented over and over again.

Constant change within the government and companies
While the encouragement from the government leaves much to be desired, entrepreneurs are starting to take their social responsibility, because they also derive problems from traffic congestion. Could it be that traffic jams are enablers for a new way of working? Could this disadvantage somehow result in an advantage?

E-working highly depends on information- and communication technology. Malfunctioning or badly implemented solutions lead to annoyance amongst “remote workers” and eventually to resistance. Entrepreneurs often trivialize the importance of technology, while at the same time new aids and tools are being developed and appearing on the market.
In the last 15 years teleworking and E-working have been mentioned in numerous situations. From being the solution for traffic jams, to an aid to increase productivity or to use human resources in a more flexible way. It also has been called a way of meeting wishes about working hours and a solution for a more efficient use of office space.
We’re not back to square one, we’re one step ahead! Compared to its surrounding countries, E-working is a great success in the Netherlands. Philip Todd, managing director of the Dutch E-work forum ( , points out to 5 stimulating influences:

1.Because of the Home-use PC project, more employees have a computer at home compared to the countries surrounding the Netherlands
2.By now a lot of Dutch people have a broadband connection
3.A lot of people have an internet connection and access to their email at home
4.The fact that the Netherlands has a relatively high number of financial services companies.
5.The Dutch corporate culture and leadership style are characteristic for the low power distance and functional relationships.

Whose problem is it?
The director is the first person to think of in answer to this question, but the person who should take the initiative to raise the matter of E-working within the company or organization should be, in our eyes, the Facility Manager and no longer the ICT- or HRM manager.

The Facility Manager as logistical expert
A professional Facility Manager has the right knowledge about logistical issues and accessibility. The Facility Manager also has the task to raise new issues on other fields, and
is capable to match the needs and wants of the organization to what he can offer, if necessary by outsourcing it.
How should you translate a social problem and later on an organizational problem into concrete measures? The new way of working demands the Facility Manager to have knowledge of business economics, marketing, business administration (especially logistics) and change management. Particularly change management, because the Facility Manager will get a lot of resistance from different directions when he presents the plan about E-working. Therefore, it is important that he keeps in touch with colleagues from other organizations to chare knowledge.
The Facility Manager has a few important tasks to handle when it comes to e-working. Since the board decides the course of the organization as a result of the vision (attitude) they develop themselves, the Facility Manager should send out stimuli to encourage the board to strike an attitude that enables E-working. The Facility Manager, for his part, has to specify this attitude/ vision into concrete, operational objectives. With the support of the line managers, he then has to set up a policy document containing project objectives, basic principles and necessary means. Because of the complexity of E-work projects, we advise the Facility Manager to choose a gradual approach.

Consequences for the professional education in the field of Facility Management
The question is how the Facility Manager can be prepared for the earlier mentioned tasks. Although the Dutch National Facility Management Forum has set up a clear Competence profile, in practice we noticed that that the universities create a distinct profile of the way they offer the course Facility Management. Some universities focus on real estate, others on innovation. This is a desirable development, because a description in general terms of the course Facility Management would undermine it. A general approach of the course Facility Management would result in applying general business administration to the specific field of activity.
As a result of this, however, a lot of Facility Managers find that the universities educate qualified people for most of their tasks, except for tasks related to business administration. The universities are currently clearing these arrears.
In many companies, Facility Management has a very operational focus. Now it’s the Facility Manager’s job to upgrade himself to a higher, more strategic plan.
For education, this means the following:
  • Include more current organizational and social developments, which reflects the rapid change of the role of the Facility Manager.
  • Besides the more operational and tactical issues, also recognize the strategic subjects as well as change management and innovation related themes.
  • Develop knowledge, apprehension and skills concerning strategic policy development and development of the organization.
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