IFMA World Workplace Recap

In addition to the regular serving of facility-focused education and networking, Workplace Evolutionaries (WE) ran its first full schedule of World Workplace programming at this year’s conference.

Conference-goers set out for a day of classes and networking in New Orleans. Photo courtesy of IFMA.

Conference-goers set out for a day of classes and networking in New Orleans. Photo courtesy of IFMA.

This year, at IFMA’s World Workplace Conference & Expo in New Orleans, the Workplace Evolutionaries (WE) Community of Practice officially launched and ran its first full schedule of World Workplace programming, including a master class in workplace trends and strategy, a community launch and panel discussion, an evening network reception, and eight speaker sessions offered across the two day World Workplace program. Founded and chaired by Kate North of e-Work.com, WE’s mission is threefold: to stimulate workplace innovation; to empower people to create, lead, and implement workplace transformation; and to influence the evolution of the workplace through research and reaching outside our industry.

WE continues to grow

In addition to the recent full slate in New Orleans, WE continually builds community throughout the year and holds discussion sessions and webinars, manages a user-curated virtual knowledge base and is building a research agenda. WE Global Ambassador Liaison Erik Jaspers describes its value to IFMA members and the organization as a whole this way: “WE has already proved itself to be an asset to IFMA by providing high quality content on a highly relevant topic for FM: the workplace. WE provides a place for researchers, practitioners, industry and users to share minds and learn from each other.” At World Workplace, this mix of voices and curated events sparked curiosity and excitement in IFMA members interested in learning more about the evolving needs and management of the workplace, and marked an auspicious beginning for building a strong community and knowledge base around workplace transformation.

Focus on people

Individually and as a whole, the week of WE programs in New Orleans showed that IFMA members are excited to delve into the transforming landscape of workplace, and that this type of programming will be vitally important to the future of IFMA. WE leadership is optimistic about the expansion of membership and programming; WE advisor Chris Hood reflected on the success of week’s events, “The increasing visibility and role of WE parallels what is happening out there in the real world. Looking around at the summit, one could see through the high attendance at the workplace-related topics, the level of animation of conversations and dialogue, the degree of volunteerism and the thriving social occasions mirroring this sense of value and importance. This really is where it’s happening right now, for end-users, consultants, and service providers alike.”

We’ve been so focused on cutting costs over the past several years that we seem to have forgotten who the places and spaces we build and manage are for.

Kate Lister of WE also noticed that the conference as a whole demonstrated an important shift in how people think about workplace, supported in part by the WE events: “If I had to choose one phrase to sum up what I found different about WWP this year, in particular the WE sessions, it would be ‘it’s about the people.’ We’ve been so focused on cutting costs over the past several years that we seem to have forgotten who the places and spaces we build and manage are for.”

Kate Lister approves of another WE member's signature Workplace Evolutionaries beret. Photo courtesy of IFMA.

Kate Lister approves of another WE member’s signature Workplace Evolutionaries beret. Photo courtesy of IFMA.

WE Master Classes

The WE Master Class kicked off the week of events with a presentation of ten workplace case studies and the lessons to be learned from the strategies and policies implemented. Presenters also shared key takeaways from the IFMA Foundation’s Workplace Strategy Summit held in June in the UK (if you missed it, check out Work Design magazine’s summary), and attendees could access a “genius bar” featuring workplace experts who were on hand to answer workplace questions. WE Membership Lead Glenn Dirks detailed the enthusiastic participation in each of the activities offered, and how he saw the WE community begin to take shape and grow: “Providing real life experiences in the form of case studies by the people actually responsible for delivering the programs is always very impacting. Attendees appreciated the fact that speakers were very candid about what worked and what didn’t and made themselves available for questions. The ‘Genius Bar’ concept was also well received. Attendees wasted little time diving into issues that, although not resolved in the short time at the table, probably will generate follow up discussions.” The community launch and networking reception over the following days provided opportunities for many to continue the conversations started at the master class and further connect over an interest in the changing workplace.

WE’s mission is threefold: to stimulate workplace innovation; to empower people to create, lead, and implement workplace transformation; and to influence the evolution of the workplace through research and reaching outside our industry.

Throughout the week, WE speaker sessions allowed attendees to dive in deeper and explore several facets of workplace facilities management and overall trends in the industry. Some topics included Making Mobility Work, Workplace as Experience, and Dollars and Sense of the Healthy Workplace. Many agreed that the caliber of these sessions was one of the highlights of the conference overall, and noted the impressive turnout and continuing interest in topics over the course of several days.

“Our speaker track was definitely a highlight,” said Dirks. “Average attendance was about 125 per session. I know of some individuals who stayed through every session, a testament in the selection of topics and expertise of the speakers.”

WE founder Kate North says the future is bright

Like the events’ speakers, WE’s founder and chair is an experienced expert on workplace trends and strategy. As Vice President of Global Development for e-Work.com, North brings her over 25 years of experience to clients looking for best practices and methods to incorporate new ways of working and create innovative workplaces. She has co-authored the book Work on the Move for the IFMA foundation, and previously served as Vice President, Strategic Business Group at Herman Miller Inc., and as the Global Director of Ideation, a global workplace research consultancy at Haworth Inc. North sees tremendous potential in the future of WE and is looking eagerly forward to members growing and shaping the group together.

WE founder Kate North at the conference. Photo courtesy of IFMA.

WE founder Kate North at the conference. Photo courtesy of IFMA.

“It’s truly an honor and pleasure to help in the creation of what feels more like a movement,” she said. “I am grateful to all those that helped create four exceptional days; what a team effort! Not only is WE attracting global industry thought leaders, but facility managers, workplace practitioners, consultants, and a vibrant student community, as well.”

With New Orleans out of the way, WE’s next endeavor is to deliver a fantastic Facility Fusion in Vancouver and Florida this spring. Stay tuned!

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