14th January 2010
By Iain Murray
I have been your institute chair for over a year and a half now and life could not be busier, or more enjoyable. I won't bore you with all the things that fill it, but let's just say my commitments add up to more than an average 39 hour week. I also know that just about all of you will have let out a sigh and muttered "you and who else"? I know the answer to that is that we all are! I empathise; over the years, like most of you, I have had the phone call on Christmas morning telling me the lift is out of order in one my properties, I have been on the roof of an office building at 3am watching a chiller being lowered onto it, and I have also been found in a roof space in my best suit trying to find a leak. There are thousands of common stories that bind us all into the profession that is FM. I firmly believe that it is almost a vocation and not just a career; if you genuinely don't care, then you genuinely won't last. The rewards we get for this commitment often don't correspond with the sacrifices, but I hear a lot less moaning from FMs than I do from many other professions. We are good at grinning and bearing it.
There are some new pressures however, and the most prominent one at the moment is money. We are under severe pressure to deliver more with less, and the more includes a sustainability agenda that is growing exponentially. There are plenty of companies out there who are saying that their 'green' initiative is their top priority, what they are not saying is that savings are an even higher one. This is where the rub comes, we all know the adage spend to save and we all understand the principle. How then do we achieve it, when there is nothing to spend? So the new adage is cut to spend to save, and sometimes we will be lucky if the spend comes after the cut.
To close I give you an update on the quote FM World attributed to me when I took the chair in 2008: "FM is recession proof". I still believe that we are faring better than our peers; I still believe that good FM businesses are prospering, and I still believe that I would rather be an FM than a surveyor. The down side is that like you I am having to work harder than ever before to continue to prosper, and since our weeks used to be 70 to 80 hours long, I don't know where we are finding the time, we just are! Must go, that's an email coming in on my mobile - it's only 7.28pm on Saturday after all.