There are plenty of myths and expectations sprouting around Workplace Strategy in Poland. I would like to discuss three the most prominent misuses that I stumbled upon more than once in my professional career as a Workplace Consultant:
All of them lead to potential misunderstandings and can easily jeopardise the outcome.
Workplace Strategy will no replace business strategy
The most faulty and dangerous believe I came across results from mistaking Workplace Strategy for corporate business strategy. Again and again I am being surprised how this belief boomerangs even by some very large corporates. Even recently I had a blood freezing experience of discussing cooperation between two separate entities from one large group. It turned out that their Mrs expected an external consultant through workplace to define their future integration level. Pardon me?
Possibly labelling as ‘Strategy’ what in reality is a consultancy process could be partially blamed, but as a result it often boosts unrealistic expectations towards the outcome. Workplace Strategy focuses primarily on behavioural aspects of a corporate culture and its spatial, or physical, consequences. In particular, it doesn’t cover vast areas related to business development, namely corporate strategy and vision. Rather, it should be the other way round: Workplace Strategy should follow and develop earlier defined target business vision. The power of Workplace Strategy fully unfolds and flourishes when strategic thinking has been already done, and the rejuvenation plan is being implemented. Apart from the workstyle this strategic vision should encompass at least such other key areas as technology and business processes. Workplace consulting can complement, but not replace strategic thinking.
Workplace Strategy is defining model - but not implementing
Second most popular confusion is mistaking Workplace for Change Management. Indeed, Workplace Consulting process generates optimum workstyle model for a group of users. It sets up targets and behavioural models in the context of office and technology introduction or revision (e.g. mobility policy that is linked with the mobile devices usage). However its implementation is a separate, and much vaster, issue from the diagnosis. Change Management is a collective term for all approaches to preparing and supporting an organisational change, not exclusive only to workstyle and office space. Furthermore, Change Management has only recently started to appear in the real estate context in Poland. All the best Change Managers in Poland I have a pleasure to work with share IT coaching background, clearly indicating the most common implementation of this approach in our country.
Workplace goal is there to integrate, not to divide
Third the most widespread misusage of Workplace Consultancy is its employment to internal corporate fights. I could tell many stories of a young and enthusiastic consultant being thrown into a middle of a living corporate hell that made her, before she even blinked, involved into yet another clash between some locally ruling managers. Obviously every consultant either learns to identify those subtle marks of creeping mental manipulation or burns in the flames, but even seasoned specialists can be put off balance sometimes. Only recently I found myself to be used as a tool in what was obviously yet another sparing game between two huge egos in a big firm. Those local giants made themselves a new tourney ground out of Workplace exercise. What was a sport for them has been a misery for me, as they were both extremely apt in oral pushes, given the nature of their business. It ended up as usual in cases when emotions play a big part - with nothing good. Workplace Consultancy surely pulls some sensitive strings in the users, but as a rule its goal is to help and integrate, not to disrupt and divide.