The new Houston-based “Service Center of Excellence,” which officially opens on Feb. 21, 2013, and serves as the headquarters for the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), employs a wide range of design features intended to promote and support an international mindset among employees. IFMA’s 23,000 members come from 78 countries around the world.
“Purposefully designed, constructed and operated facilities enable people to thrive, innovation to occur and organizations to excel,” says IFMA Chair Marc S. Liciardello, CFM, MBA, CM. “Consistently achieving successful outcomes is the mission that is entrusted to each of our 23,000 members across the globe every day. To ensure they are prepared to meet this challenge, IFMA has challenged itself to create world-class mechanisms that deliver thought-leading educational content and meaningful opportunities to connect and advance led by transforming our headquarters function into a Service Center of Excellence. The Service Center of Excellence has been developed through a highly inclusive and transparent process that brought together world-class FM practitioners and other subject-matter experts to deliver a workplace aligned with and supportive of IFMA’s global vision.”
The following are some of the specific design features employed by the Service Center of Excellence in support of IFMA’s global efforts:
- One of the biggest challenges with managing an international association is dealing with time differences. After an extensive evaluation of employee work habits, which included a breakdown of daily routines, the IFMA design team discovered that in many cases, regular working hours, roughly 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., were surrounded by commutes that could last an hour or more each way. By empowering employees to work remotely when possible, this commute time is reclaimed. Some employees chose to start work earlier and some chose to stay later. The simple act of eliminating the mandatory commute has allowed IFMA to expand its workday by as much as two hours on each end without needing to expand the hours staff works. This, in turn, makes more international collaboration during regular working hours possible.
- Community work areas in the Service Center of Excellence are named after continents while closed focus rooms and meeting rooms have country or city names from locales around the world where there is an IFMA presence. In the course of a day, employees may work in Belgium, Brazil, Europe, India and the U.S.—all from right inside the same building. This design choice was simple to implement but has significant cognitive and behavioral implications. The simple act of scheduling and holding meetings in spaces named for places around the world gives a physical presence to what might otherwise be merely an abstraction.
- Color theory is a popular subject among interior decorators because a simple change of color can have a profound impact on the way a space is perceived. The IFMA Service Center of Excellence opted for an international approach to color: blue, green, red and yellow. These colors provide accents throughout the neutral palette of the space. To ensure a timeless space, the flooring, millwork and primary wall colors are medium tones in warm neutral colors.
- The Service Center of Excellence in Houston wasn’t designed to be unique. In fact, it was designed to be easily copied. Additional Service Centers of Excellence can and will be opened around the world, duplicating the original format where appropriate and bringing unique functionality when necessary. By disbursing specific organizational responsibilities around the world and empowering them all to work together seamlessly, IFMA creates international collaboration and eliminates the need for useless duplication.