Mace People

Maud Santamaria

Workplace Experience Director

Facilities Management, UK

Maud’s passion and experience for what makes a workplace engaging and effective has led to her transforming corporate offices around Europe. From a career that started in office furniture to leading Mace’s workplace experience strategy, creating inspiring workplaces has always been Maud’s ambition. 

How did you get into what you do?

I started my working life in the commercial furniture industry over 10 years ago. I was on an internship in New York when I came across an office furniture company that I was so impressed by the layout and how great the office looked that I knew I wanted to work with them.

 

At that time they were the only company looking at the bigger picture and the purpose of the furniture piece in the overall space. Considering ergonomics, design and wellbeing to create the best possible working space. I started a role with them back in my hometown in France, where over a few years I was able to learn, not only the products, but about the experience they give and the important part they play in creating the right culture.

 

In 2018, I was offered the opportunity to work with an FM company. They had previously been one of my clients and were looking for someone with a good understanding of workplace experience. I was eager to understand more about FM services and over a couple of years developed my knowledge of the industry, before making the move to Mace in early 2020.

What do you enjoy most about your current role at Mace?

The workplace experience role is a good way to interact with everyone. Each day I’m talking with diverse teams - interior fit out, architects, designers, sustainability. Mace has such a wide range of experts that really helps me in developing well-rounded solutions for our clients.

 

When I first came to Mace I didn’t see it for the services that it delivers, I saw a company that is dedicated to creating change and thinking about innovation and transformation. Working for Mace means working to find a better way, it’s what we are always trying to achieve. The sense that we are actively trying to find a better way to help our clients and be more proactive.

What is workplace experience?

A workplace experience is an employee-centred approach to design, technology and culture within the workplace that makes an environment welcoming and engaging for individuals. Experiences are defined by feelings, not just function. Often individuals aren’t even aware that their environment is being actively designed. That amazing environment and unseen process is your workplace goal!

A good workplace experience will support the engagement and wellbeing of employees, help to maintain productivity levels and provide a welcoming environment for visitors. An engaging workplace can also help in the attraction and retention of employees, and form part of the wider offer when hiring new talent.

What are the benefits of a good workplace experience?

At Mace, our approach is to deliver memorable experiences for the end users of the client’s buildings. We have data, including performance metrics and survey results, to show that this approach is having an impact, whether that’s on employee wellbeing or supporting productivity across the business.

Companies that get the workplace experience right, report happier employees who are loyal, productive, work collaboratively, are innovative and honest - they will tell you when something’s not right, because they feel trusted. When we talk about workplace experience, we are being asked, ‘what can I do to improve attraction and retention?’, actually, if you make your employees happy, they will remain with you for longer and they will recommend the company to good people.

What do you see instore for the future of workplace?

As a generic thing it’s impossible to say, as it’s a company by company matter. I would say that companies with big HQs in big cities are probably going to review their strategy and instead they will look at implementing a hub strategy that people can meet in, with a more social and collaborative focus.

 

Technology will be even more important to help people manage their time when they are in the office, to show them where to sit or who else will be in the office that day so they can arrange meetings. The workplace in the future will need to cater to more flexibility in working habits, with pods for phone calls, touch down desks for in between meetings and large meeting spaces for collaborative working. 

What skills do you need to be good at your job?

You have to be curious about the end user. Keep talking to people in the workplace and ask about their situation. To be able to deliver a good workplace experience you need to talk to the client and the end user, listen to what they are saying and understand their needs. 

 

You also need to be interested in the trends in the industry and spend time educating yourself. I spend a lot of time on webinars. I want to know what every new product or process is and why it is going to help the workplace journey or experience for employees. There are new innovations coming out all the time – like a paint that is able to improve air quality in the office and remove the need for air filters in the workplace - and I have to quickly brush up on that.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?
I think you have to be passionate about people. You’ve got to see what makes individuals tick, you have to talk to people and understand them. Clients and colleagues can see that when they meet me, I like to talk, I like to find out information. Knowing your audience is important. 
What might someone be surprised to know about you?

I like people and I’m a very chatty, bubbly person, but I think I’m actually an introvert at heart!

If you hadn’t got into this line of work what do you think you might be doing?

My dream when I was 14 was to be a helicopter pilot to help people in the mountains, but my eyesight wasn’t good enough and I was devastated. I think any job where I could help people in any way.

“Experiences are defined by feelings, not just function. Often individuals aren’t even aware that their environment is being actively designed. That amazing environment and unseen process is your workplace goal!”