Facilities managers will be ‘first responders’ in ensuring that workers feel secure going back to work when buildings fully reopen in a post-coronavirus world, says accountancy and business advisory firm BDO.
In its report, The Impact of Covid-19 on the Facilities Management M&A Market Satvir Bungar, managing director and head of facilities at BDO FM, states that when buildings do open up there will be “a heightened awareness around hygiene, food safety, HVAC, and need for new maintenance strategies to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission”.
He adds that FM professionals “will be the first responders to make sure people feel secure about going back to their working environments”.
Bungar hopes that “this starts to change attitudes towards the importance of often-overlooked management of facilities at board level and the increasing need to form effective strategic partnerships with FM operators”.
The report acknowledges that the coronavirus pandemic will continue to have disruptive and transformative consequences for both companies and the people they employ, with many buildings moving into shutdown mode.
The most immediate impact of Covid-19 for many would be a significant but temporary drop in sales meaning pre-established business plans are in “hibernation” and the key point would be preserving cash.
Actively thinking about liquidity is “in the front of everyone’s mind, such as working closely with end clients to bring settlements forward, taking advantage of the government’s raft of measures to support businesses (such as securing HMRC support to defer VAT and PAYE payments) and regular discussions with lenders to ensure operators have their support to assist in responding to the challenges arising out of Covid-19”, the report adds.
Some of the larger FM operators are reporting a mixed impact on their activities, signalling a significant downgrading to profits because of the turbulence and uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.
Similarly, many smaller operators are struggling to provide their clients with solutions.
The report notes that some organisations would be trialling remote working for the first time at mass scale, realising the benefits as well as understanding the challenges of prolonged remote collaboration, and discovering new approaches that can be applied in a ‘business as usual’ state.
During the pandemic, says the report, “the FM profession has an essential role to play, to align with client’s business continuity plans and ensuring that buildings, and their users, remain safe and operational”.
It adds that despite the various challenges, this is not a repeat of 2008 [the financial crisis] as underlying conditions for mergers and acquisitions remains positive.
“We are using this time to prepare and help our clients to be robust and ready for a sale later down the line. We are talking to trade buyers daily and their message is clear – that they remain interested and a temporary delay is not due to a permanent change in strategy.”
You can download the full report here.