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Futures shock?

All photography credited to Albion Images

25 February 2016 | By The FM World Team

February’s Workplace Futures conference saw presenters speaking about FM at a point in time in which the sector has the potential to have a fundamental impact on its own workers and the people they serve. Is the sector ready for the challenges ahead? Here, the FM World team selects some of the key quotes from the day.


Mike Cant

Director, Larch Consulting

  • Cant spoke expansively about the FM sector’s ‘direction of travel’, suggesting FM is in the unique position of caring for the wellbeing of huge numbers of workers in an era of great social and technological change.
  • “We are not the technology people or the construction people – in fact, we are the social infrastructure people; we are the owners of the social infrastructure of a business”. 
  • These were workers who needed to be engaged rather than merely left to clock on and off each day; people who can become disaffected by every passing change to working conditions, particularly those driven by the relentless march of technology.
  • “We’ve got to be careful about this,” said Cant. “We need to be aware of how each technological step forward affects their own personal environment.”
  • “Either we take on the role of social responsibility and drive it, or we don’t. And if we don’t, all that our workers will ever do is simply clock on and clock off.” “We also need to be much more articulate about what we are going to do for each specific client’s needs rather than simply saying who we are. I still see lots of bids where it’s all about us. It’s not about us, it’s about them.”



Tony Raikes 

Managing director, Vinci Facilities

  • Raikes spoke of his firm’s work on London’s Olympic Stadium, which Vinci is contracted to manage despite many challenging circumstances. 
  • “There were a number of changes during 2015 which we had to be flexible for,” said Raikes, pointing to a seven-day turnaround from hosting a Rugby World Cup match to mobilising the stadium – which is also undergoing construction work to turn it into a football stadium – into a racetrack for Formula 1’s Race of Champions event and, later in 2016, hosting rock band AC/DC. 
  • “We had to be flexible, catering for journalists, athletes and their entourages, and thousands of fans. We had to make sure all access points were OK, that we were compliant with fire safety legislation at an ever-changing venue.” 
  • “The FM industry played its part in the Olympic success of 2012. FM was dealing with an enormous amount of change [in the build-up] and still it was a success. It was not only a success for GB athletics, but for GB construction, and it was a success for GB FM.” 



Peter Ankerstjerne

Group marketing director, ISS World Services

  • Ankerstjerne predicted a stark change in the way outsourcing of FM is perceived, with price becoming less of a factor in outsourcing decisions, particularly in the private sector.
  • Ankerstjerne also suggested that the future of FM outsourcing could see the “uberisation” of contracts, in which individuals providing facilities services are crowdsourced.
  • Similar to large asset-free large organisations such as Uber, Airbnb and Facebook, Ankerstjerne suggested that FM could soon have service companies that employ no service individuals.
  • “You could go online, book a service employee – a caterer, a cleaner, a security officer - and you could share that with our customers,” said Ankerstjerne. “You could rate that person, and put that online for others to see.”



Bobby Hughes

Divisional director of healthcare at Engie (formerly GDF-Suez)

  • Hughes spoke of his work at Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, where he urged organisations, particularly PFI partnerships, to work as collaborative and not contractual arrangements. 

“We need to understand the NHS long-term vision to help the FM team shape its strategy over the next 10 years.” 

  • ”It’s important to make a concerted effort to have conversations with trust boards so that we can showcase the real opportunity to expand on what the FM team can offer.” 
  • Hughes’ FM team undertook dementia awareness training so that the catering staff and engineering staff could understand the delicate nature of working on the wards:  “We asked the nurses what we as an FM team could do to help. It’s about engagement and making patients feel comfortable.” 
  • To achieve this, family rooms are not like ‘your typical hospital’, said Hughes. “You’re staying with loved ones, possibly sharing the last few hours or days that you spend with them. So we wanted rooms that were a bit more comforting. It’s important to go beyond; to bring in a better quality of life in the hospital through FM.”



Liz Kentish (pictured) & Vince Edge

Kentish is MD of consultancy Kentish & Co., and Edge is senior manager, supplier governance in the global FM centre of excellence at Johnson & Johnson

  • Kentish and Edge spoke about their project to create behavioural changes within Johnson & Johnson to bring about harmonious working relationships within the company and between service partners.
  • Said Edge: “Within the operation there was a lot of discontent and I was challenged to find out what was going on. Three things emerged: 1) Partnership approach: ours was adversarial, with no coordination or collaboration. We needed to create an environment where we faced the customer, not each other.”
  1. 2) Contract governance: We have a well-defined governance structure that is used globally… but no one was using it. We needed to fix that.
  1. 3) “Contracting can be hard to get, especially if you’ve been in FM and are then dropped into a service delivery role. We had people telling suppliers or partners how to deliver services rather than supporting them. We needed to turn that around. It was a parent-child relationship that wasn’t working.” 
  • Said Kentish: “We did a diagnostic piece and really got under the skin of Johnson & Johnson and their providers. We asked four questions – what’s the issue? What do you think the solution is? If we were putting together a training workshop, what should it include? And lastly, what do you need individually? For the first three questions we were inundated with opinions. For the last question, nobody said anything about what they needed to change about themselves.”
  • “We looked at the knowledge, skills and behaviour that people needed to exhibit at the end of the programme that would really make a difference, making sure the training we conducted worked for people across different cultures.”



Leeson Medhurst

Workplace Consultant, 360 Workplace

  • “Technological advances and expanding choice in everything from TV channels to cars means those now entering the workforce do so with high expectations – but that can lead to more confusion. Which is why it is important to find out the facts about your work space and the people who work for you.”
  • “In the next three years we will see five generations grace our workplace. There is a lot of hysteria around what this will mean.”
  • “American psychologist Barry Schwartz wrote that the more choice we have the more freedom we have and by default, the more wealth that we have. That’s so engrained now that we just accept it as a good thing.”

“We need to think about how people interact with their workplace. It’s about the dynamic alignment of three things: space, people, technology. You need to find out how they work and how they interact because they all overlap.”

  • “It’s about balance. Some choice is better than none – but it doesn’t follow that more choice is better than some choice.” 



Nigel Stirk

Partner, OC&C Strategy Consultants

  • Stirk’s presentation focused on the financial performance of FM suppliers and other outsourced suppliers over the past four years, growth pegged at 3.7 per cent in 2015 compared to 9.3 per cent in 2012. Share prices for FM companies have underperformed the wider stock market over the past six years, too. 
  • FM customers are becoming more sophisticated as contracts mature and intermediaries add market intelligence. 
  • The role of consultants has expanded from merely negotiators of price to providers of market insight, finding the provider and deal best suited to a given client’s needs.
  • Even allowing for fierce competition and demanding customers, FM businesses often invest significant resource in bidding unsuccessfully.
  • … and even when bids are won, profit delivery is often highly inconsistent.
  • What’s more, FM contracts typically suffer from margin dilution at contract renewal – particularly in second and third-generation contracts.


Stirk’s agenda for change:

1) Build propositions that genuinely affect customer’s business-critical outcomes

2) Identify customer segments where there is clear need – and communicate in their language

3) Bid with discipline

4) Mobilise and deliver systematically

5) Think like a data business


“We need to make sure that training works for people across different cultures”

Liz Kentish, managing director at consultancy Kentish & Co

“It’s about balance. Some choice is better than none, but it doesn’t follow that more choice is better than some choice” 

Leeson Medhurst, workplace consultant at 360 Workplace

“It’s important to go beyond: to bring in better quality of life in the hospital through FM” 

Bobby Hughes, divisional director of healthcare at Engie - Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust

“The London Olympics was not only a success for GB athletics, it was a success for GB construction – and a success for GB FM” 

Tony Raikes, managing director at Vinci Facilities

“10 years ago, price was 90 per cent of an outsourcing decision. Last year, it was around 63 per cent. The second largest concern was access to talent, and the third largest was innovation” 

Peter Ankerstjerne, group marketing director at ISS World Services