In a recent article, we outlined how to establish a workflow underpinned by effective collaboration within property operations. In this follow-up blog, we build upon this by reinforcing the why. Fostering effective team collaboration with all stakeholders involved in managing a commercial building is a fundamental prerequisite for efficiency, productivity and asset performance.
While the concept may sound a little ‘fluffy’ at first, in this article we argue that developing a culture of collaboration across your portfolio is the cornerstone for generating the accountability and resilience necessary to adapting in-step to uncertain times. In the short term, doing so will also help you to increase stakeholder engagement, enhance communication and boost productivity. In turn, studies show that enterprises that promote a culture of collaboration are 50% more effective at task completion.
So why is it so powerful? For property owners and facilities management firms, adopting a partnership mentality will generate:
- Shared accountability
- Cross-functional synergy
- Shared wins
1. Shared accountability
The first reason to prioritise effective collaboration in your property operations is to create a culture of shared accountability among all teams involved in both managing and maintaining your properties. The UK’s Management Advisory Service, argues that benefits of cultivating shared accountability in business operations include improved psychological wellbeing among team members, and consequently, heightened performance. Still, the concept might feel somewhat nebulous without a clear way to implement it into your property operations.
As CIM Project Engineer Alex Shan observes, in facilities management, comms typically occur in a silo where the Facilities Manager engages privately between different stakeholders, which can lead to blurred lines of accountability and a general lack of operational transparency. The PEAK Platform combats this and drives shared accountability with a highly transparent workflow system. Tasks can be assigned with one tap, with progress and status visible to all parties so that everyone can be held to account.
These interventions alone will smooth out the touchpoints in your supply chain by creating a better working environment predicated on clear task ownership and improved end-to-end visibility. As a result, there will be less finger pointing and more seamless operations, from troubleshooting to maintenance and reporting.
Adopting a partnership mentality across your portfolio means improving lines of communication by moving away from siloed and asynchronous emails, calls and text messages – not to mention dozens of hours per month spent on unproductive meetings. If you can bring remote stakeholders directly into conversation with each other on a shared platform, efforts can be directed at collaboratively identifying and addressing issues as soon as they arise. Doing so will also result in improved operational efficiency that will save you precious time, energy and resources. As a core feature of the PEAK Platform, alerts are delivered to relevant parties in real-time so that issues can be resolved without delay,
Let’s take an example of identifying equipment failures in maintaining HVAC systems. It’s no secret that even the most state-of-the-art HVAC units can cause huge amounts of energy wastage when they are not maintained optimally. Thus, even the best equipment is only as good as the personnel operating it, which requires strong collaboration among Facilities Managers, BMS contractors and mechanical contractors. This can be done most efficiently by opening up direct lines of real-time communication between the technicians and FM team, resulting in speedier fault detection and on-site intervention. As such, efficient communication will not only save you time and hassle; it is also key in fostering the kind of collective problem-solving necessary to cut emissions and lower the carbon footprint of your properties.
As an example, this insightful Q&A with a BMS contractor highlights how the PEAK Platform powers operational efficiency for the whole supply chain, including the likes of specialist contractors.
3. Cross-functional synergy
As many operations people have been forced to wear more hats nowadays, a culture of collaboration is more important than ever in making the most of your team’s talents and expertise. Rather than taking on a distrustful, micromanaging approach to compliance in response to the challenge of keeping so many plates spinning at once, the most effective Facilities Managers will be those who espouse a ‘spanning’ (or boundary spanning) style of leadership.
Spanning leadership refers to a management style predicated not so much on the all-encompassing expertise of task managers but on deep awareness of the varied skills represented among their direct reports to bring the right people onto the job. Spanning leadership is all about building trust and rapport across the entire range of stakeholders in your portfolio. In turn, data shows that tapping into the varied skill sets of cognitively diverse teams results in better decision-making 87% of the time over non-diverse teams, and cognitive diversity is estimated to enhance team innovation by up to 20%.
In practice, promoting cross-functional synergy might mean developing a centralised workflow that enables stakeholders to easily pass the baton to the next person once their job is done. A centralised workflow, a core component of the PEAK Platform, will also encourage different functions to lend their expertise to one another in collectively resolving anomalies and identifying faulty equipment. Moreover, educating and upskilling the site team through cross-functional collaboration, especially if an FM is from a non-technical background, will make them better equipped to inform future decision-making.
In our recent webinar on ‘The Evolution of the FM Function’, Scentre Group’s Varun Nair sheds light on shaping a balanced FM and operations team,
"The mission for us has always been 'How do you get that balance?'. You do need that technical knowledge. You do need that soft skill set, excellent contractor and business partnering skills, tenant and customer engagement. How do we get that in a team, balanced across teams, supported by regional leaders, and the technology to complement our teams on the ground?"
A key byproduct of adopting a culture of collaboration is that it will also make your property operations more resilient to potential disruptions. Between the changes in working and consumption habits ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing threat of climate change, the building operations and facilities management industries are certainly facing unprecedented times. Cultivating operational resilience is absolutely paramount to adapting in-step to these changes. Meanwhile, studies show that collaborative process management has a statistically positive relationship with the overall resilience of firms operating within an increasingly complex and risk-prone economy.
Indeed, you will need to use teamwork and collaboration as you think outside the box on how to be prepared to navigate these hurdles and more. Achieving things like net zero emissions, for example, will require buy-in from all stakeholders in the supply chain from suppliers to consultants to tenants and visitors. Whether that means embracing green technology or holding stakeholders accountable in their carbon offsetting efforts, you will have the best results in keeping everyone engaged when you can foster a culture of collaboration predicated on support, transparency, and positive reinforcement. If you manage to do so, you will vastly increase the chances of keeping your operations resilient in the face of a crisis.
There are also onboarding benefits to be had by leveraging a digital solution like the PEAK Platform. By holding a complete digital history of past actions, tasks, alerts, faults, comments, and more, getting new team members up to speed is a far more painless exercise.
5. Shared wins
Teams that master collaboration are simply able to accomplish more. As Patrick Lencioni famously points out in his book, The Ideal Team Player, in basketball, the team that exhibits better teamwork routinely out-performs the team stacked with star players. The Institute for Corporate Productivity supports this, as they have found that companies who successfully foster a culture of collaboration are 5 times more likely to be high performing. When everyone is aligned on a shared vision and set of goals, they also share in the sense of accomplishment that comes with reaching them. The PEAK Platform leans into this, with the ability to ‘shout out’ fellow team members for work completed.
More than merely achieving warm and fuzzy feelings of a job well-done, however, prioritising a partnership mentality will result in better business outcomes, allowing you to cut costs, cultivate more seamless operations and rise to current industry challenges. From achieving net zero to adapting in the face of rising inflation, successfully future-proofing your operations, therefore, must start with fostering a culture of collaboration. If you manage to successfully do so, you will also boost engagement, teamwork and trust amongst stakeholders across your portfolios – resulting in a win-win for all involved.
In our recent webinar on ‘Driving superior asset performance’, LaSalle’s Emily Wills stressed the importance of maintaining crystal clarity on what are the investment drivers for a property.
“What it all comes back to is ‘Do your team on site understand what your drivers are?’. Every owner, every building is going to have a different set of drivers. It's so important that the whole team understands the strategy of the owner, what the real drivers are and where the owner sees the asset going in one year, three years, ten years. What's the ultimate objective of the investment here? Because once your whole team knows that, they can make the on the spot decisions and ask the right questions that can help influence those medium and longer term outcomes.”
Cultivating a culture of collaboration across your properties and portfolios requires the right tools. The PEAK Platform’s centralised workflow empowers property teams to work smarter and more collaboratively – generating significant operational efficiencies across an entire portfolio. Watch a demo now.