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Academic Research in Facility Management and the Workplace

Dr. Matthew Tucker is a Reader in Workplace and Facility Management at Liverpool Business School where he is passionate about delivering FM and Workplace research that can have a big impact on the industry and the wider business world. Mike Petrusky asks Matt to share his academic perspective about the new programs, courses, and research … Continue reading "Academic Research in Facility Management and the Workplace"

Academic Research in Facility Management and the Workplace

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Dr. Matthew Tucker is a Reader in Workplace and Facility Management at Liverpool Business School where he is passionate about delivering FM and Workplace research that can have a big impact on the industry and the wider business world. Mike Petrusky asks Matt to share his academic perspective about the new programs, courses, and research that will bring value for workplace leaders. They discuss technology, the next generation of workplace leaders, and their time together in Dublin where they both spoke at the EFMC 2019 conference. Mike and Matt agree that storytelling will help researchers communicate to a broader market as they share the exciting opportunities around physical space, virtual space and the people that are at the heart of it all!

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Download the FREE “Workplace & Space Management Software” report from Verdantix:

Connect with Matthew on LinkedIn:

Follow Matthew on Twitter:

Read Matt’s article “Academic Research: Can I Have Your Attention?”:

Learn more about Liverpool Business School:

Watch Matt’s talk at EFMC 2019:

Connect with Mike on LinkedIn:

Share your thoughts with Mike via email: [email protected]

Learn more about iOFFICE’s workplace experience solutions:

Read the full transcript below: 

Mike (00:01):

Hey, I wanted to take just a minute to tell you about a new report that was released recently. It was published by Verdantix, an independent research and consulting firm. And in it, they conducted a review of the 23 most prominent space and workplace management software companies. And guess what? Our office was named the leader in two categories, our office scored highest overall and highest in workplace services. Awesome, right? So, if you’ve been thinking about workplace and space management software, and you’re just not sure which option out there is right for you, I’d like to send you a free copy of the report so you can check it out for yourself. All you need to do is go to That’s right, M.P. as in DJ Mike P. And I’ll also leave this link in the show notes for you to make it easy. I hope it helps with your decision making process as you explore the available software tools that will help you elevate the employee experience in your organization.

Matthew Tucker (01:05):

I think from an academic perspective, there’s so much that can be developed from this new program, new courses, new research projects. I think we’re going to see some really great stuff in the very near future, which encapsulates this workplace opportunity.

Mike (01:21):

This is the workplace innovator podcast, where we talk with corporate real estate and facility management leaders about the industry trends and technologies impacting your organization. This show is powered by iOFFICE, the leading employee experience focused IWMS software that delivers real time data and mobile tools to help you intelligently manage your digital workplace.

Mike (01:46):

Hey everybody and welcome to the show. My name is Mike, and this is episode 85 of the workplace innovator podcast, where we travel the globe to connect you with the perspective you need to help you navigate the world of facility management in the workplace. You know, one of the highlights of this past year for me was my visit to Dublin, Ireland back in June. Where I had the chance to speak in Europe for the very first time. I was so excited and honored to be invited to participate at the European facility management conference by David Martinez. And I got the chance to meet his team from CIFMERS GLOBAL and friends from Euro FM. And that is also where I met my guest this week, Matthew Tucker.

Mike (02:30):

Matt and I recently had a really interesting conversation about not just the EFMC conference and the work he is doing, but we also discussed his passion for sharing the results of his academic research and some of the ideas that he has to help organizations succeed in today’s marketplace. He has a great perspective, and I know you’re going to find this valuable, so let’s check it out.

Mike (02:55):

On the workplace innovator hotline all the way from Liverpool, England. I’m pleased to welcome Matthew Tucker to the show. Hi Matt.

Matthew Tucker (03:04):

Hey, how are you, Mike?

Mike (03:05):

I am great. It’s good to speak with you.

Matthew Tucker (03:07):

And you.

Mike (03:09):

It’s been a little while since we met in Dublin at the EFMC 2019 conference. That was a good time, wasn’t it?

Matthew Tucker (03:16):

It was fantastic.

Mike (03:17):

Well, it’s an honor for me to be there and to take that stage and speak a little bit about my thoughts about the workplace and the need to be comfortable being uncomfortable. You had a great speech as well, talking about what you do. So for our audience’s benefit, tell us what you do and why you do it.

Matthew Tucker (03:35):

Okay. That’s a big question, I’ll try to answer it. So I’m from Liverpool Business School, which is in Liverpool, John Moores University. My title is I’m a reader in workplace and facilities management. A reader is quite an academic job title, which a lot of countries would call an associate professor.

Mike (03:56):

Ah okay.

Matthew Tucker (03:57):

So essentially I do lots of academic research within the workplace and facility management remit.

Mike (04:03):

Yes. And you have a passion for not just doing the research and doing it well, but sharing that with practitioners and the rest of us in the industry that are trying to have an impact on our workplaces, right?

Matthew Tucker (04:16):

Yeah. I think I did a short talk at EFMC and it was really about how research in FM can influence the industry and a big term that I picked up on was the impact. I think there’s a lot of amazing research that happens within the academic world, but perhaps a lot of it is shared inside the academic community and doesn’t necessarily get out there into the wider world. So the talk was really about how we can generate impact from academic research. I think I shared a quote from a guy who’s got the best name in the world called Ashleigh Brilliant, who said that good ideas are common, what’s uncommon are people who will work hard enough to bring them about. So you can come up with a concept, you can publish a journal, an academic journal paper, but how far is that going to reach? Who’s going to actually benefit from that. And I think there’s a lot of stuff that gets generated in academia, which isn’t capitalized on within the industry and within the wider business world.

Mike (05:16):

I love that reminder that we all, when presenting our thoughts about trends and challenges in the workplace, that we are putting it in a way that is understandable and yet practical and something that’s really valuable to our audience. And that’s what I need to remember each week on this show, for sure.

Matthew Tucker (05:33):

Yeah. I think that one of the challenges with academics is that we’re actually trained how to do research really well. And unfortunately, that then translate in the language in which we speak about research, which can be quite rigorous and it can be quite systematic. And you kind of lose the art of telling a story about actually why your research is important and who can benefit from it in a way that relates to a wider audience. And I think that for me, is the big challenge, how we translate academic research into multiple platforms. You know, whether it be through a blog, a social media post, a tweet, an industry report, policy documents, it’s the ability to translate research in different languages and different styles. So it reaches out to as many people as possible.

Mike (06:23):

Well, that’s awesome. And I can’t wait to talk more about the specific research you’ve been doing, but before we go too far, Matt, I want to ask a little bit of the personal side. First of all, I love music and you’re based in Liverpool, the home of rock and roll, the Beatles hometown, right?

Matthew Tucker (06:38):

Yeah. It’s pretty cool. I mean, the Beatles were a huge part of the city, wherever, all the streets that you walk down. There’s tourists here all the time and you kind of take it for granted to be honest. So the building that I’m situated in Liverpool Business School, it’s an old historic townhouse, but there’s a small plaque on the wall outside. And sometimes I see people walking past taking pictures of the building and sort of what are they doing and then I have to remind myself that actually I work in the same building as Brian Epstein, who, sorry, he was born in this building.

Mike (07:13):

Is he the manager for the Beatles?

Matthew Tucker (07:15):

So he was the manager of the Beatles. Yeah, he found them.

Mike (07:18):

Wow, what kind of music do you like, Matt? And I got to think that being from that town music is a big part of the culture there.

Matthew Tucker (07:25):

I mean, obviously I’ve always loved the Beatles, huge part of my life, big fan of John Lennon, especially. But I suppose growing up, I grew up, I hit my teen years in the nineties and I was really sort of wooed by music definitely in 1994, when Oasis released “Definitely Maybe”, which was their debut album. The whole Brit pop here in the UK was amazing. So you had bands like Oasis, Blair, also some amazing bands from Liverpool, like Cast who are an amazing band, bands that were sort of slightly before the Brit pop era as well, like Echo and the Bunnymen I absolutely loved. Yeah, I could go on and on, but that, that was really my first love.

Mike (08:11):

Lips like sugar, sugar kisses. Come on and join me, Matt.

Matthew Tucker (08:19):

You got to remember I’m English. We can’t entertain things like that.

Mike (08:23):

Yeah. Especially a researcher. Your academic credentials might be at stake.

Matthew Tucker (08:30):

I know you’re a fan of scene as well. I’ve seen it firsthand in EFMC in Dublin.

Mike (08:35):

Oh yeah. I forgot. I did that on stage, didn’t I?

Matthew Tucker (08:38):

I’ve never seen that before in a facility management conference, somebody being able to work in Umbrella by Rihanna. That was a real skill.

Mike (08:47):

Thank you. That was quite a moment on stage. So I appreciate it. That was a lot of fun and the audience was surprised. The looks on their faces were priceless, but you know, I got to be me. So I did what came naturally.

Matthew Tucker (09:00):

It was great, it was great. It’s nice to see things like that, where you captivate the audience and it goes back [inaudible 00:09:09] I need to be careful not to rant about this stuff, but yeah. Sometimes in academia we can focus on the small, what we think might be really huge, but it’s quite small to other people like talking in depth about the research methods that we’ve used. And I think a lot of people kind of take those things as given that if we’re academics, we’ve probably done those things quite robustly. So let’s get past that and let’s start talking about the good stuff. Like how is this going to really impact me? How is this going to affect my business? And there other things I’m trying to really promote as much as possible in the research that I’m doing in the future research that I do.

Mike (09:44):

That’s really interesting. And I want to hear more about your perspective, Matt and I really am fascinated by the work you get to do on a daily basis, teaching courses and you’re interacting with students, the young people, the next generation of workplace leaders, right? So give me a day in the life of Matthew Tucker.

Matthew Tucker (10:04):

Wow. I mean that’s one of the amazing things working in a university that no day is the same. So one day I’m working on a research project, it may be desk based. It may be, delving into literature, finding out new things, but then the next day, I’m in the classroom, I’m talking to students, we’re interacting, workshops, lectures. And I love that. I love being connected with the students. And there’s so many amazing students that have graduated from here and who are doing amazing things within the facilities management industry. And it’s great when they keep in touch and tell me what they’re doing.

Mike (10:40):

That’s really cool. That’s really great. So technology obviously is a big factor today and it’s disrupting our world, not just our personalized, but in the world of workplace. What are your perspectives about the biggest trends and technologies that are impacting the world of the built environment?

Matthew Tucker (11:00):

Wow. Where do we start with that? I mean, I did a talk recently for an organization looking at the future workplace and yeah, it’s huge. The digital space is going to change considerably. We see things now written quite a lot about automation and services that are going to become automated. And there’s a lot of skeptics out there saying a lot of jobs are going to be abolished as a result, but actually I think automation in the industry is going to be huge. Automation in our daily workplaces is going to is going to be huge. The likes of robotics, which has already been around for a long time, AI, these things will be heavily influential in how we operate our workplaces and how we experienced them as people in workplaces.

Mike (11:47):

With that in mind, do you teach the students of today a different way of thinking about things and maybe you and I went through school and the need to be adaptable and emotional intelligence. I always think that that’s the piece that sets human beings apart from the machine world, the automated world, if we’re going to stay relevant into the future, we really need to emphasize our ability to be emotionally aware and adapt to different cultures and environments. Is that something you can teach the next generation?

Matthew Tucker (12:18):

Yeah, I think one thing we teach is about what skills are we going to need? What skills are graduates going to need moving forward? Because it’s inevitable that technology is going to constantly evolve and the generations of students that I’m teaching, they will naturally evolve with it, their brains and network, to be able to pick that up and apply it quite quickly. So that’s kind of a given for me, it’s about those softer skills that you refer to, that they’re going to be so important to them and trying to try to help future-proof them to understand what human skills they are really going to still need, it’s not like we can all just plug in and have an AI robot and do everything for us.

Matthew Tucker (12:56):

There are essential skills that are still going to be needed. So things like, I don’t know, problem solving skills are going to be huge, creativity skills are going to be huge and get in a talent spectrum, which can have those kind of adaptable skills is really important. There’s a great article from Leesman, I don’t know if you guys are familiar with the Leesman index, but they have a really nice regular publication, the Leesman review and I really liked the title of one of the recent reviews, which was The Impossible Algorithm and it was why AI will never be as complex as the human brain. And it’s those kinds of messages that I try and put to students, that you go through the higher education experience to really learn how to think in different ways. And if we can help tailor those thinking skills to complement technology, then for me, that’s the way forward.

Mike (13:53):

Excellent. Well, you recently shared an article on LinkedIn entitled “Academic research: can I have your attention?” and I’ll share a link in the show notes so people can find it easily, but tell us a little bit about that article and the books you referenced. There were a couple interesting books that you noted, and I think they may be helpful to academics and practitioners alike.

Matthew Tucker (14:15):

Yeah, I think it was kind of a provocative piece to just try and stir things up a bit and think, well, how do we raise the attention of academic research? So it’s just my thoughts on some simple tips of the things that I’m trying to do a lot more, like parallel dissemination. If I produce academic research in one format, can I replicate that, but slightly adapt it in some other format. So it’s accessible to a particular audience. Actually there’s not a lot written for academics about how you present your research. And I know one of your guests, Chris Moriarty, he talks a lot about the art of storytelling and that’s a big skill, which I’m trying to teach my students, how do we story tell, how do we talk confidently and passionately about our research?

Matthew Tucker (15:03):

Because it’s actually quite hard sometimes to talk about your research, especially when it’s quite complex and it’s at a really systematic methodology that you’ve used and talking about it in a simple way, which tells a story, which captivates the audience. So I think actually there’s a lot academics can learn from techniques of business writing, which is a different style altogether. A book I really like at the moment is by Mish Slade, “May I Have Your Attention, Please?”, which is where I actually got the title for my LinkedIn article, she references for example, Simon Sinek, who I think you probably mentioned a few times on your podcast. [Crosstalk 00:15:40] he says about people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. And if I think about that in academic research, yeah, we probably talk a lot about what we’ve done, not why we’ve done it, or who’s going to benefit from it. And there are simple messages to tell. And if you can package that up in a story, wow, you’ve got a real impact there.

Mike (16:02):

I totally agree. And it’s something that, again, these principles you’re speaking about apply to all of us in many ways, because the role we play in our organization, whatever our title or responsibility, it’s sometimes a challenge to communicate across different departments, different people with different focus. So let’s talk about the future of the built environment, the future workplace. Matthew, what are your thoughts about where we’re headed as an industry? What are you most excited about?

Matthew Tucker (16:34):

I’m so excited about the whole workplace opportunity and I don’t want to come across as being negative at all in any of the things I’ve said about things like perhaps we have suffered from a facilities management identity crisis. It doesn’t matter if we don’t talk about these things, we’ll never be able to evolve, we’ll never be able to improve, we’ll never be able to create opportunities. I think there’s just such an amazing opportunity to have a much more profound integration within organizations where we’re connecting HR, IT, digitalization, facilities, all of those things coming together, that physical space, the virtual space and people at the heart of it. And I think from an academic perspective, there’s so much that that can be developed from this new program, new courses, new research projects, doctoral studies, looking at these opportunities. I think we’re going to see some really great stuff in the very near future, which encapsulates this workplace opportunity.

Mike (17:35):

Excellent. I will be on the lookout for future research and work you’re doing. Wow. This has been great, Matt, thanks so much for being on the workplace innovator podcast.

Matthew Tucker (17:46):

Thanks very much, Mike. Thanks for having me.

Mike (17:49):

There you have it, everyone. Matthew Tucker sharing some of his perspectives about the value of academic research in the world of workplace and facility management and the importance of getting that message out into the marketplace. I couldn’t agree with Matt more and I hope that this podcast helps to do that. Please take the time and check out the show notes for this episode. As I have left you some links to reach Matt, read his article and learn more about the work he is doing. And as always, if you find this information valuable, I trust you will share it with a colleague or a friend, someone who can also benefit from hearing these conversations as we continue to share information that will inspire you to be a workplace innovator. Peace out.

Mike (18:41):

You’ve been listening to the workplace innovator podcast. I hope you found this discussion beneficial as we work together to build partnerships that lead to innovative workplace solutions. For more information about how iOFFICE can help you create an employee centric workspace by delivering digital technology that enhances the employee experience, visit

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As the host of both the Workplace Innovator Podcast and the Asset Champion Podcast, Mike's role at Eptura is to share thought leadership with CRE, FM, and IT leaders in the digital and hybrid workplace. As an in-demand public speaker, Mike engages audiences with his focus on the human element of workplace and facility management at International Facility Management Association, CoreNet, and other industry events.

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