Head of Workplace might be a title you aren’t familiar with, but it’s a highly demanding role that requires a unique and diverse set of skills in order to succeed. They need to build relationships with vendors, forecast inventory, maintain quality standards, manage budgets, collaborate across teams, juggle multiple projects, handle big real estate moves, communicate openly, and solve complex problems quickly–every day.
Flash Coughlin, Head of Workplace for Envoy, has spent over ten years in Facilities and Workplace Management. The title ‘Head of Workplace’ may feel new, but it simply reflects the evolution we are currently experiencing in today’s workplace.
“The titles have constantly evolved as we have redefined what a Workplace can be for its employees and company culture. The way I see it, Facilities refers to our basic operations that ‘keep the lights on.’ For me, the movement towards the title Workplace is due to the emphasis on hospitality in everything we do, like our food and beverage offerings and health and wellness programs.” - Flash Coughlin
If you’re looking to hire an exceptional Head of Workplace for your office, or you’re curious about becoming one yourself, here are five key skills every Head of Workplace needs in order to run an efficient (and thoughtful) workplace.
As Flash explained, hospitality is a key part of his role. It’s the human element that drives every decision he makes. A mindset centered around hospitality is the best way to ensure an amazing employee (and visitor) experience.
FC: “Keeping a customer service mentality allows us to build and operate spaces that not only address what our employees need on a day-to-day basis but how they experience their work day-to-day as well. Sometimes we don’t have full control over what happens in the workplace, but we do have control over how we respond and how we communicate it to the company.”
There is always so much going on in the workplace that it can be tough to keep up with all the moving parts: operations, maintenance, events, vendors, programs, etc. It’s essential that everyone in the organization is fully aware of upcoming changes to the office or activities in their space.
FC: “When we communicate openly we create visibility across teams so we are all aware of everything that is going on without having to understand each nitty-gritty detail. This allows us to be flexible and pitch in when there are questions or concerns. This makes everyone feel involved and lets us get ahead of any issues we may have overlooked”
The modern workplace is fast-paced and full of unpredictable challenges. We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be able to face these challenges head-on and problem-solve quickly. The ability to make these decisions with confidence is a critical skill for any Head of Workplace.
FC: “Being able to prioritize and move quickly is crucial. We are constantly tending to multiple small fires on a daily basis and acting with urgency in response to those small fires minimizes the chances of ending up battling a huge blaze. Solving problems quickly, in the proper order, is critical to my success.”
Sense of ownership
In this role, it’s not enough to just be held accountable, you should have a sense of ownership around all responsibilities, projects, and programs. Creating ownership goes beyond getting your work done, it’s about taking pride in what you do and the environment you help build.
FC: “I like the idea of creating ownership across your team, instead of using the term accountability. By creating ownership people take pride in what they do and how they do it. This ownership makes it natural for folks to act in difficult situations and provide genuine hospitality. It also helps us identify failures and avenues for improvement. But, most importantly, it allows us to celebrate our wins.”
The main goal of the Head of Workplace is to craft a workplace that works better. The only way this is possible is to have a team (and a company) that fully trust them to make the right decisions, take ownership, and stay passionate about the work they do and experience they create.
FC: “If you embody the four skills listed above, you will ultimately earn the trust of your leadership and your employees. The end result? A happy and successful Workplace team.”
If you're interested in what makes workplaces work better, check out our new podcast Empowered: Envisioning Workplaces That Work to hear more from Flash Coughlin. In this episode, we discuss infusing hospitality into workplace experience management.