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18 January 2019
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Man vs. machine: FM will always need its people

21 January 2015

By 2030 up to 35 per cent of UK jobs could be wiped out by advances in technology, according to a recent report by the University of Oxford and Deloitte, blogs Mitie's Pete Mosley.

Ten million jobs are projected to be lost over the next two decades, with those working in the support services being among the most vulnerable.

There’s no doubt about the value of technology and its impact across all of society, not just business, but I find all of this rather far-fetched.

In the world of FM we know that people are our biggest asset; they are the lifeblood of the business. This is true at Mitie, just as it is true for other companies. It is our people who go the extra mile, not machines. It is our people who deliver great service day-in, day-out; and who keep buildings clean, tidy and protected.

Last year, I wrote a blog for FM World about how businesses are increasingly reliant on technology. It described how the day-to-day operations of organisations such as multinational banks and media broadcasters are now dependent on data centres.

So, let’s take data centre maintenance as an example. As FMs, our purpose is to reduce the risk of failure by successfully maintaining these systems and it’s undeniable that technology plays a vital role. For instance, the implementation of cutting-edge auditing tools can be used to enhance this service, highlighting issues and directing engineers straight to problems.

Although technology can be used to support our service, it is people themselves who understand and apply this technology. It is also people who carry out the vital jobs that keep a client’s facilities up to scratch. Without the specific knowledge and actions of experienced staff, technology is effectively redundant.

In other industries, particularly manufacturing, the negative effect on jobs may well be more significant. In FM, however, as buildings and clients change, there will constantly be the need for people who understand the intricate workings of a contract and the culture of each client. This is a level of understanding that technology is unable to replicate.

In FM, our people are our greatest asset and while I hope that we continue to use technology in an innovative way to enhance our service we will always need skilled people with the expertise to use these cutting-edge systems.

FM is a business of relationships between people, not technology. We will always need open points of contact in our business, from the staff on the ground up to the account managers. Technology will continue to innovate and enhance our service. But technology is not our greatest asset – our people are. We must never lose sight of that.

Pete Mosley is managing director, Mitie Technical Facilities Management