Facilities Show 2019 overview

There are many things the Facilities Show has got spot on, but one thing in particular is the venue. Hosted at the ExCel London, the exhibition space is absolutely enormous. At 100,000sq metres, the ExCel boasts two massive halls, two conference centres and 45 meeting rooms. What’s more, this year’s Facilities Show was co-located with Firex International, IFSEC International and the Health and Safety Expo, providing visitors with the very latest products and services from Facilities Management, Health & Safety, Wellbeing, Smart Buildings, Security and Fire Protection. Trust me when I say that you could spend the whole day walking around the ExCel and not come across the same stand twice. Exciting, yet it takes its toll on your legs.

Smart Technology for 2019

With such an expansive space (and 250,000 people registered to attend, according to the lady who scanned my badge) you can be safe in the assumption that visitors will need some respite throughout the day, to recharge themselves as well as their phones. This is why Nook were invited to be part of the Smart Building Expo, a new addition to the menagerie of events hosted throughout the day. Smart Buildings Expo was created so that smart technology could be demonstrated to the facilities management sector through ‘Educate’, ‘Experience’ and ‘Consult’ – each strand seamlessly guiding professionals through the new ways of working in buildings today.

Nook were based within ‘Experience’, a 196m2 area with interactive technologies enabling attendees to walk in and immerse themselves with live smart technology. Vanti, a Master Systems Integrator, were displaying the latest intelligent tech all based within a Nook Pod. On day 1 and within 45 minutes of the ExCel’s doors being thrown open, Vanti team members had told us that they were getting an influx of enquiries from people about Nook Pods. The combination of having a quiet, private space that allowed users a quick pit stop throughout the morning was provoking thoughts about how this could be transferred to their own offices or those of their clients. With open-plan offices relieving workers of their focus zones, Nook Pods were reintroducing a way in which people can still see the activity and buzz going on around them yet be shielded from unwanted levels of noise or prying eyes and ears.

Wellbeing at work

Wellness at work is booming within the workplace industry, demonstrated in the form of the Workplace Wellbeing Show which is another new addition for 2019. Throughout the day, visitors could attend thought-provoking seminars within the Workplace Wellbeing Theatre from a variety of companies including mental health charity Mind, Next, Laing O’Rourke and Siemens.

Whilst our Nook Pods were happily accommodating the mid-morning rush, we headed to the first seminar of the day delivered by Faye McGuinness, Head of Workplace Wellbeing Programmes at Mind. Titled “Supporting employee mental health” Faye began by playing a video from Kirk, a construction worker whose daughter was being bullied at school. Kirk explained how although he was at work, his head was at home, worrying about how his once happy daughter was now drastically losing weight and changing in to a smaller, unhappier version of herself. In the film Kirk said that in the construction industry he’d traditionally have been told to “man up”; thankfully Kirk had a supportive line manager who was able to offer valuable support. Faye went on to discuss how the mental health stigma still plays such a huge role in the workplace. She asked a series of interactive questions where the audience would raise their hands as to whether they’d disclose if they were struggling with poor mental health in various scenarios; interestingly very few people raised their hands about sharing this within a job interview if the question was asked, for fear of how they’d be perceived.

The human touch

It was inspiring to see that every member of the audience was attentive, eager to learn further ways to improve wellbeing within their workplace. Faye provided expert advice on where to find helpful resources on Mind’s website that included a ‘Time to change employer pledge’, core standards, and a workplace wellbeing index. As huge champions of positive mental health, it was fantastic to see not only wellbeing given its own section within the buildings Expo but insightful, clear and process-driven directions as to how a positive working environment can be implemented immediately.

Heading back to the Smart Building Expo, there was still a hive of activity, so we thought we’d catch up with a few of the visitors seated within the pods. Two things were evident: 1) the exhibition attracts an international list of attendees who see the show as a great place to get the very latest products and 2) that people are tired of traditional workplace ‘tools’ and are instead looking for new and innovative ways to provide smarter, comfortable and cost-effective working environments. If these products or services can provide holistic solutions, then so much the better.

That was one of the greatest bits of feedback about Nook Pods given on the day; a professional gentleman said he’d been using a well-known furniture provider for years but was frustrated that it was unable to integrate with technology. Aesthetically pleasing, yes, but that’s where it stopped. He was particularly impressed with how Nook’s features such as Aircharge could wirelessly charge his mobile whilst we were in conversation, and he delighted in how easy it was to personalise Nook Pods (whether that be brand-wrapped Nooks or simply changing the Nook lights to a variety of colours according to the user’s needs). With some of Vanti’s technology combined, the Smart Building Expo enabled people to really imagine what it’d be like to have comfortable, acoustically-enhanced quiet spaces complete with voice-activated facilities and video-conferencing capabilities – all within the busy hubbub of the Facilities Show exhibition.

Unsurprisingly yet important to note, visitors seem to gravitate towards human-focused ideas that promote wellbeing, efficiency and new ways of working. From the organic eco-friendly healthy snack vending machines to the fact that wellbeing had its own stage, this year’s Facilities Show took stock of people demanding more from suppliers and catered to it magnificently.