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Dogfooding and Digital Transformation: 5 Insights from Google's FMs


IFMA met with Lynn Baez, Google's director of facilities, and asked her to share insights into digital transformation and facility management. 


1. What is "dogfooding" mean and how does it impact the built environment? 

Before a space is open to fellow Googlers, it's tested out so we understand its day-to-day operations - that unique, digital transformation concept is dogfooding - trying out what works and what needs to be fixed.

"We believe in a user-first mindset and that’s how we build all of our spaces," said Baez. 

Baez explained that part of that process is educating vendors, partners and the entire organization on the global intent of the space and then providing opportunities for feedback. 

"We consider this a living lab, so we consider experimentation part of our daily operation. Really having that user journey the core part of what we do every day," said Baez.  

2. Other organizations can use concepts like this to transform their spaces. 

"It’s really anchoring back to the mission, the vision that your entity has," said Baez. "Let’s anchor our financials, our operating model to support this and that’s where we can see real value generation take flight." 

For example, organizations can analyze the energy data they collect. "Looking at true analytical perspectives of how you can consume things and how you can change the operating model for that consumption can really drive some significant savings as well as reduction of your energy footprint," said Baez.  

3. It’s important to think about your community and its energy needs when undertaking digital transformation. 

"We really think about it in a holistic perspective. We partner significantly with the communities we are in to see what crisis areas they are a part of and how we can be helpful," said Baez. 

In addition, Google is changing how they think about building new spaces.  

"We are no longer building just individual buildings. We are building spaces that are multi-use. Spaces are available for the community so there can be retail, nature walks, bike trails. People can reside in these spaces and help our affordable housing in some markets," said Baez.  

4. Communication is critical in ensuring occupants feel safe returning to work post-pandemic.  

"We’ve built them a lot of tools and methods to help them understand and navigate what that day will look like when they are back (in the space)," said Baez. 

Google is ready to return its hybrid team back to the workspace, but that takes lots of preparation.  

"We have really built a lot of campaigns around feeling safe as well as being safe. We are giving people the opportunity to be comfortable in utilizing face coverings as well as accessibility for sanitization methods," said Baez.  

5. Investing in diverse talent is how we will see the FM community flourish with digital transformation.  

"We have diverse spaces. We need diverse talent," said Baez. "What we would have considered core parts of our role 20 years ago are now supplemental, and almost sometimes the ticket to entry to an opportunity." 

For Baez, that means facility managers taking charge.  

"We need more FMs in senior roles. We need to be taking the seat that has been given to us through the pandemic and really leading the charge of where the C-suite wants to go next with their real estate footprint," said Baez.   

"Many teams are grappling with this question right now. If we don’t cultivate the talent base to have those types of strategic discussions, we are giving our entities a disservice in the value that we can bring," said Baez.