The top five issues in facilities management right now

As a B2B PR specialist agency, we work for clients in sectors as diverse as law, care, technology, data and food. It’s our understanding and knowledge across multiple B2B sectors that often attract clients to us in the first place. And once we’re part of their team, we continue to develop our knowledge and insights in their sectors. This means we “know an awful lot about an awful lot of industries,” as one of my legal clients (when discussing HR regulations) once mentioned.

It got me thinking about how we could impart some of that knowledge to those in specific sectors in case it helps them as they navigate the current climate. So in no particular order (and of no particular interest if you’re not in this sector), here’s what’s happening in the facilities management sector right now.

The C word
It goes without saying that the pandemic has touched pretty much every sector and that includes FM. With offices closing down in the spring and again in November, facilities managers have had to become adept at remote diagnostics, fixing and management. With often a mere skeleton staff on-site to manage changes or fixes, FM has found themselves deploying masterful communications and negotiation techniques to get problems resolved. And let’s not forget the 100s of new home offices that FM have found themselves supporting while making the established premises infection free and Covid safe for returners.

Commuter management
One of the long term changes caused by the pandemic that’s likely to stick is commuter management – which is widely expected to fall under FM’s remit. Employees are changing their view on the humble commute and looking for safe and reliable transport to return to the office. This makes it an employer issue. In a recent report from ParkOffice.io it argued that companies with high headcounts will need to consider the potential increased demand for parking and e-bikes as employees avoid public transport, while understanding the challenges faced by micro-mobility operators that employees use to complete journeys.

The B word
We can’t not mention Brexit! As I write we’re a month away from the transition phase coming to an end. While there haven’t been any finalised plans announced yet, there are some knowns that businesses need to address. The Home Office’s announcement in February 2020 of a new points-based immigration system could potentially impact FM’s management of cleaning and security personnel. Research from The Labour Force Survey 2019 shows that, in London, 62% of cleaning staff are born overseas. The new immigration system has the potential to create a severe shortage of staff in these key FM positions.

Net carbon zero
As the UK continues its journey towards its net carbon zero targets in 2050, the pressure is growing on companies to deliver against their own KPIs and the workplace is the best place to start. According to the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, every 1,000sq-ft of office space occupied has the equivalent of a 91 tonnes CO2 p/a carbon footprint. If just 2.4m tonnes of CO2 was saved annually by businesses that would represent nearly 25% of the government’s carbon capture target. There’s lots of advice around on how to start on a net carbon journey, start by looking here, here and here.

The ‘Carillion Effect’
The collapse of Carillion undoubtedly shook many organisations’ confidence over their FM providers’ longevity and ability to deliver. While there were specific reasons for Carillion’s failure, the event has led to organisations seeking more outcome-based approaches to FM. It’s becoming less about ‘what jobs can we outsource to FM providers?’ and more about ‘what value can our FM partner provide?’. The result of this is pressure on outsourcers to work to outcome-based contracts and remuneration.

While it’s clear that FM is not immune to the broader changes occurring across all industries, there are opportunities as well. Those operating in the FM sector, whether in-house or an as a provider of an outsourced service, will need to consider the impact that recent events are having but measure these against the broader changes that have happened across the sector over the past five years. These macro level adjustments, such as delivering greater value to the business, will help to support success during the rapidly fluctuating micro level impacts that we’ve witnessed during this past year.

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